The follow match highlights are courtesy of World Rugby.
A nervous start from Japan saw the possibility for an upset in the RWC 2019 opener against Russia in Tokyo this morning. Appalling ball-handling and a lack of commitment to the breakdown from the shots saw the Bears competing well in the opening half. In the second half the pieces would slot together to see Japan winning 30-10 and claiming the important bonus point.
Japan’s fight to get past Russia would be forced by a shocking start. Fullback Will Tupou kicked from his 22 from which his opposite, Vasili Artemyev received and kicked it back. His up and under was a regulation take only for Tupou to make a massive blunder from which Russia pounced.
Tupou’s error saw the ball sit-up for Kirill Golosnitskiy who ran over to score. Russia were delighted with Artemyev the first on hand to congratulate his teammate. Fly half Yuri Kushnarev added the difficult conversion to give Russia a 7-0 lead.
Similar errors would occur to Japan throughout the opening half but Russia would not convert the mistakes into further points. Instead Japan would go into the break with a 12-7 lead, doing so on the back of a double to winger Kotaro Matsushima.
The first Matsushima try was a team effort with smart play from fly half Yu Tamura and an utterly brilliant off-load from Timothy Lafaele putting Matsushima over.
A second opportunity mirroring the first eventuated and Matsushima again scored. Referee Nigel Owens awarded the try only for the TMO to confirm there had been a knock-on. Saving the day was Russian captain and fullback Artemyev whose tackle was a try-saver.
Russia would remain in the lead until the final minute before the interval. Scoring near the posts was Matsushima who finished off a 13 phase attack. Like his first try his second came from a beautiful off-load this time with the assist coming from Ryoto Nakamura.
Japan’s lead may well not have been. The officials missed a potential red card incident in which second-rower Wimpie van der Walt led with his shoulder and made contact to the head of Vasili Dorofeev. The impact forced off the Russian scrum-half and replays strongly indicated that it was intentional. For van der Walt a potential suspension is to come and possibly an early end to the RWC.
Japan were able to cool their nerves early in the second half. They would add to their scoring firstly from a Tamura penalty. Then flanker Lappies Labuschagne while completed a tackle was able to hold up the player and grab hold of the ball. He then ran 50 meters to score.
Russia’s commitment saw them fighting back and camping themselves deep in the Japanese 22. Following a ten minute period they would not break the defense to score a try though Kushnarev would land a penalty to make it a 20-10 scoreline.
Russia had earned respect which saw Tamura kicking a 65th minute penalty rather than kick for the corner. Four minutes later came the decisive bonus point as Matsushima completed his hat-trick.
Russia have not been blessed by the tournament organizers. They play their second game on Tuesday, doing so against Samoa. Japan’s next game will be against Ireland on Saturday, September 28.
Try: Matsushima (3), Labuschagne
Penalty: Tamura (2)
RR WORLD RANKINGS – During World Cup the RR Ranking Points are DOUBLED
JAP (on 76.70 points) at home -vs- RUS (on 64.81 points) in a RWC match
|Possible Outcome||Rating Point
|If JAP win by 1-15 points||0.000||76.70||64.81||No|
|JAP win by more than 15||0.000||76.70||64.81||No|
|If result is a draw||2.000||74.70||66.81||No|
|If RUS win by 1-15 points||4.000||72.70||68.81||No|
|If RUS win by more than 15||6.000||70.70||70.81||Yes|
1 Keita Inagaki, 2 Shota Horie, 3 Asaeli Valu, 4 Wimpie van der Walt, 5 James Moore, 6 Michael Leitch (capt.), 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 8 Kazuki Himeno, 9 Yutaka Nagare, 10 Yu Tamura, 11 Lomano Lemeki, 12 Ryoto Nakamura, 13 Timothy Lafaele, 14 Kotaro Matsushima, 15 Will Tupou
Replacements: 16 Atsushi Sakate, 17 Isileli Nakajima, 18 Ji-Won Koo, 19 Luke Thompson, 20 Hendrik Tui, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Rikiya Matsuda, 23 Ryohei Yamanaka
1 Valeri Morozov, 2 Stanislav Selskiy, 3 Kirill Gotovtsev, 4 Andrei Ostrikov, 5 Bogdan Fedotko, 6 Vitali Zhivatov, 7 Tagir Gadzhiev, 8 Nikita Vavilin, 9 Vasili Dorofeev, 10 Yuri Kushnarev, 11 Kirill Golosnitskiy, 12 Dmitri Gerasimov, 13 Vladimir Ostroushko, 14 German Davydov, 15 Vasili Artemyev (capt.)
Replacements: 16 Evgeny Matveev, 17 Andrei Polivalov, 18 Azamat Bitiev, 19 Andrei Garbuzov, 20 Anton Sychev, 21 Dmitri Perov, 22 Ramil Gaisin, 23 Vladislav Sozonov
Date: Friday, September 20
Venue: Ajinomoto Stadium, Tokyo
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistants: Nic Berry (Australia) & Matthew Carley (England)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)