Japan made to work for victory over RWC debutants Chile

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Japan 42-12 Chile: World Cup debutants keep pace but Japan prove too strong

Japan made the most of Chile’s two yellow cards to beat World Cup debutants in their opening Pool D clash, with a brace by Amato Fakatava and other tries from Jone Naikabula, Michael Leitch, Ryoto Nakamura and Warner Dearns, all six being converted by Rikiya Matsuda.

Last Updated: 10/09/23 2:53pm

Japan ran in six converted tries as they kicked off their Rugby World Cup campaign with a 42-12 bonus point win against debutants Chile, who put on a brave face in searing heat and scored two tries in Pool D on Sunday.

After opening the scoring through a Rodrigo Fernandez early try, the South American team, the lowest ranked at this World Cup, added another from Alfonso Escobar with Santiago Vila slotting over the conversion.

Japan made the most of Chile’s two yellow cards to prevail with a brace by Amato Fakatava and other tries from Jone Naikabula, Michael Leitch, Ryoto Nakamura and Warner Dearns, all six being converted by Rikiya Matsuda.

A rousing rendition of the national anthem was followed by a spirited start for Chile, the first World Cup debutants since Russia in 2011, and then a dream try in the sixth minute, manufactured with Latin flair and finished off with a dollop of good fortune.

Japan's Rikiya Matsuda kicks a conversion

Japan’s Rikiya Matsuda kicks a conversion

Full-back Inaki Ayarza broke through two tackles to set up the opportunity, but captain Martin Sigren looked to have spoilt it when the ball was knocked out of his hand in the tackle.

It, however, went backwards and quick thinking fly-half Fernandez pounced on the loose ball, dribbling it forward and then diving on it to dot down. A check by the Television Match Official confirmed the try to the delight of the capacity crowd.

Chilean euphoria lasted less than 120 seconds as they dropped the ball from the kick-off, allowing Japan to score as lock Fakatava showed a fleetness of foot to burst through and sprint away from the defenders for a quick reply.

Basic errors betrayed Chile’s naivete and a late tackle from Matias Dittus on fellow prop Koo Ji-won meant a 10-minute spell in the sin bin, during which time Japan went in the lead on the half-hour mark as winger Naikabula stretched over for their second try.

Japan's Michael Leitch, left, attempts to beat Chile's Domingo Saavedra

Japan’s Michael Leitch, left, attempts to beat Chile’s Domingo Saavedra

Sigren was also cautioned after head contact in a tackle on Kotaro Matsushima and with the numerical advantage Japan were able to maul over on the stroke of halftime as Fakatava claimed his second try and stretched the lead to 21-7.

But if it was expected the second half would signal the end of the rookies resistance, the opposite was true as Escobar burst over for a 48th minute try to fire up the crowd and cut Japan’s lead to nine points.

That was as good as it got for the gutsy Chileans, with Leitch scoring Japan’s fourth try in the 53rd minute, centre Nakamura the next 10 minutes from time before 21-year-old Dearns used all of his 2-metre frame to stretch over and score at the end of the game.

What’s next?

It is England up next for Japan on Sunday, September 17 at the Stade de Nice in Nice.

Meanwhile, Chile will be looking to get on the board when they face Samoa on Saturday, September 16, at the Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux

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