Fa’atau seals the deal in Japan

Samoa fought back after being behind at the break to record a 13-3 victory over Japan in Sendai on Saturday, with Lome Fa’atau putting the Pacific Nations Cup game beyond the locals by scoring the only try of the game.

But Samoa coach Michael Jones admitted his side were lucky to leave the Yurtec Stadium with a victory over a side that dominated both possession and territory.

Japan’s failure to convert that pressure into points on the board ultimately cost them when a try against the run of play by Fa’atau 11 minutes from time sealed Samoa’s first victory since their opening match against Fiji.

The sides had been locked at 3-3 until the only try of the match, which came a minute after fly-half Eiji Ando missed a penalty from 35 metres out, albeit in front of the posts. That miss, allied with two in the first half, was to prove costly.

From the resulting drop-out, Japan were penalised for holding on and a quick tap saw Manu Samoa work the ball out wide, where the impressive Kosuke Endo appeared to have stopped his opposite wing Alesana Tuilagi.

However, Tuilagi managed to offload magnificently out of the tackle to Fa’atau, who duly raced 50 metres to score with full back Loki Crichton kicking the conversion and then an 80th minute penalty to deny Japan even a consolation bonus point.

“I told our players we got out of jail – it was definitely Japan’s day,” admitted Jones.

His former All Black teammate John Kirwan added: “It was a great Test match. It was won and lost on an incident. I thought we deserved to win or draw, but that’s the way it goes. You get punished for your mistakes.”

Kirwan, though, will have been pleased with the way his charges bounced back from their 71-10 mauling by Australia A last weekend, not to mention the defence as the slighter Japanese stopped and drove back their bigger Samoan opponents.

Japan had led 3-0 at half time after Endo’s 16th minute penalty, although that lead evaporated within seven minutes of the restart when it was cancelled out with a penalty from Crichton, moved from fly-half to fullback this week by Jones.

The scorers:

For Japan:
Pen: Ando

For Samoa:
Try: Fa’atau
Con: Crichton
Pens: Crichton

The teams:

Japan: 15 Bryce Robins, 14 Christian Loamanu, 13 Yuta Imamura, 12 Shotaro Onishi, 11 Kosuke Endo, 10 Eiji Endo, 9 Tomoki Yoshida, 8 Takuro Miuchi (c), 7 Glen Marsh, 6 Hare Makiri, 5 Luke Thompson, 4 Hitoshi Ono, 3 Tomokazu Soma, 2 Yuji Matsubara, 1 Tatsukichi Nishiura.
Replacements: 16 Mitsugu Yamamoto, 17 Ryo Yamamura, 18 Takanori Kumagae, 19 Yasunori Watanabe, 20 Yuki Yatomi, 21 Koji Taira, 22 Go Aruga.

Samoa: 15 Loki Crichton, 14 David Lemi, 13 Anitelea Tuilagi, 12 Seilala Maposua, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Elvis Seveali’i, 9 Junior Poluleuligaga, 8 Alfie To’oala, 7 Justin Purdie, 6 Leo Lafaialii (c), 5 Daniel Leo, 4 Iosefa Tekori, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Muliufi Salanoa, 1 Justin Vaa ,
Replacements: 16 Tamato Leupolu, 17 Donald Kerslake, 18 Filipo Levi, 19 Semo Sititi, 20 Steve So’oialo, 21 Josh Keil, 22 Lome Fa’atau.

Referee: Tim Hayes (Wales)
Touch judges: David Changleng (Scotland), Taizo Hirabayashi (Japan)

With thanks to the IRB & 365 Digital

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