Jittery Japan open Rugby World Cup with scrappy win

The hosts overcome opening-night nerves to get their World Cup campaign off to a winning start after defeating Russia 30-10.

21.9.2019

Winger Kotaro Matsushima scored a hat-trick as Japan overcame a severe case of opening-night nerves to give the host nation a winning start to the Rugby World Cup.

The hosts overcome opening-night nerves to get their World Cup campaign off to a winning start after defeating Russia 30-10.

After an opening ceremony featuring a dazzling laser light show and appearances by Japan's Crown Prince Akishino and All Blacks great Richie McCaw, there were quickly a few fireworks on the pitch.

"You get out there and realise just how much pressure there is on the night," Japan coach Jamie Joseph told reporters.

The Bears also bullied Japan's scrum on more than one occasion and troubled the hosts with their direct running, a tactic Japan's other Pool A opponents will look to emulate with greater efficiency.

"It is playing at an intensity and focus our players aren't used to. They kept the ball in play as much as they could. Our boys are just not used to that," Russia's Welsh coach Lyn Jones said.

The Russians next take on Samoa on Sept 24, while Japan go up against the number one-ranked Irish in Fukuroi City on Sept 28 in a match the hosts will be desperate to win if they wish to progress to the quarter-finals for the first time.

Read more: The Sydney Morning Herald

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21 September 2019, Saturday News

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