SOURCE: The NZ Herald Samoa have gone down by 28-22 to Japan in their third match of the Rugby World Cup by 28-22
With Argentina expected to earn a bonus-point win against Chile on Sunday NZT, Japan’s last Pool D match with the Pumas next week will be a winner-takes-all fight for the second quarter-final spot.
Samoa’s bid for a first quarter-final since 1995 was terminated with the loss; their second straight defeat in the pool stages after a tough loss to Argentina last weekend.
Samoa’s loss has put Pool D leaders, England, into the quarter-finals.
The Japanese reached the quarters for the first time at their home World Cup in 2019 but their form and results this year suggested they were way off the pace to challenge again.
But the Blossoms were patient, smart and disciplined at Stadium de Toulouse, while Samoa’s discipline cost them the match after a close battle.
A late converted try gave Samoa 90-odd seconds to pull off a miracle comeback. They forced a lineout at the halfway mark but the throw-in was stolen.
Japan and Samoa have been pooled together for the past three Rugby World Cups and this is the third time in a row they have beaten Samoa at the pool stages.
Fullback Lomano Lemeki, playing after the tournament-ending injury to Semisi Masirewa, highlighted his first start in nearly two years with breaks that led to Japan’s first two tries for back-rowers Pieter Labuschagne and Michael Leitch.
Japan led 17-3 until Shota Horie’s yellow card canceled a yellow to Samoa’s Jonathan Taumateine, and Samoa drove hooker Seilala Lam over the line just before halftime.
Samoa’s second yellow card in the 47th cost the Manu dearly. Winger Ben Lam, in only his second test, shoulder-tackled Labuschagne.
The bunker declared the tackle dangerous with contact to the head, and the yellow was upgraded to a red and Samoa had to play 33 minutes with 14 men.
Japan turned the penalty into a corner lineout and mauled captain Kazuki Himeno for a third try.
Rikiya Matsuda couldn’t convert from the sideline, missing his first goalkick in the tournament after 13 successive shots across three matches.
But Matsuda kicked two more penalties to keep the scoreboard pressure on Samoa as the Manu desperately and vainly rallied to keep its tournament hopes alive.
Right down to the wire, a valiant Manu Samoa gave it their all, but could not come away with the win.