Japan hold off Samoa to keep RWC quarters hopes alive

Japan celebrate. Photo/ World Cup.

Japan boosted their quarter-final hopes with a hard-fought 28-22 Pool D victory over Samoa at Stadium de Toulouse, ensuring England are the second team to qualify for the knock-out stages.

Pieter Labuschagne went over to give Japan the lead before his fellow flanker Michael Leitch popped up on the wing to add a second, as Samoa’s scrum-half Jonathan Taumateine was yellow-carded.

But when Japan’s hooker Shota Horie followed him into the sin-bin, his opposite number Seilala Lam was driven over to reduce Samoa’s deficit to 17-8 at half-time.

Captain Kazuki Himeno’s try extended the lead on 50 minutes after winger Ben Lam was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle, which was upgraded to red. Duncan Paia’aua and Christian Leali’ifano scored tries to set up a thrilling finale but Samoa had to settle for a losing bonus point.

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