Narrow defeat to New Zealand proves that Jamie Joseph’s side will be no pushover for England at Twickenham on November 12
Japan have set their sights on England after coming up just short of a upset against New Zealand in Tokyo.
Despite his side hanging on to win a gripping game, there could still be repercussions for Ian Foster after a red card to Brodie Retallick leaves the outstanding lock likely to miss the All Blacks’ tour of the UK.
Having beaten South Africa, Scotland and Ireland over the past decade, Japan were typically spirited from start to finish and scored four tries. Indeed, the result was in doubt until the 81st minute when a breakdown turnover from Dalton Papali’i allowed Richie Mo’unga to kick a penalty.
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At the final whistle, Japan coach Jamie Joseph heralded a strong set-piece display and pointed to the benefits of three warm-up matches against Australia A. His focus now turns to Twickenham on November 12.
“The key for us really is to go to England now and replicate that performance against a better side,” Joseph said.
Although they were missing a number of front-line players, including Ardie Savea, Sam Whitelock and all three Barrett brothers, and had not played since The Rugby Championship ended in September, New Zealand opened up a 21-3 lead in the first half.
Retallick galloped over for the first try following a neat wrap-around play, no doubt engineered by Joe Schmidt, and a charging run from Samisoni Taukei’aho. Braydon Ennor added the second to reward a flurry of offloads and Sevu Reece capitalised on another first-phase move for number three. He shot off his wing on the back of a long line-out throw to gather Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s sharp inside pass.
Joseph’s team had already put together polished passages of attack, some of which were derailed by errant offloads. They refused to fold, though, and would be rewarded with two tries before half-time.
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