Kirwan relieved with draw

Japan coach John Kirwan admitted his side “got out of jail” after snatching a dramatic injury-time draw in the World Cup clash with Canada.

Kirwan’s men scored a try well past the 80-minute mark after referee Jonathan Kaplan refused to halt the game with Canada leading 12-5 despite the ball going out of play for a line-out.

The 12-12 draw gave Japan the advantage in the battle to avoid the Pool B wooden spoon having completed all their matches, with bottom-placed Canada still to face Australia in their final game.

“It was like getting out of jail,” Kirwan said after watching Koji Taira’s dramatic late score and Shotaro Onishi’s nerveless conversion.

“I thought we were pretty average but you can’t question our courage and commitment. We showed a lot of courage.”

Kirwan’s assistant Christopher Gibbes added: “It was a see-saw battle, an emotional roller-coaster.

“We have been saying we had to play 80 minutes and this time the gut stood out.”

Although the 1995 and 2003 finals both finished level and went to extra time the only previous draw at a Rugby World Cup was at Christchurch in 1987 when Scotland and France finished locked at 20-20.

365 Digital

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