PNC - Australia A too classy for Japan
Australia A lock Peter Kimlin scored a double as Australia A defeated Japan 42-21 to complete Round 1 of the 2008 Pacific Nations Cup.
Despite an early drop goal to Japan Fly Half James Alridge, it was Australia A who burst out of the blocks in front of a strong crowd of 7,500 in slippery conditions in Hakata, Japan.
Australia A centre pairing of Morgan Turinui and Timana Tahu were menacing as they continually prised open the Japanese defence. It was Turinui in fact who scored the first try of the match in the 13th minute after yet another centre field burst and which was converted by Mark Gerrard. Gerrard himself scored just six minutes later to give Australia A a 14-3 lead and all the momentum.
Australia A continued to dominate both possession and territory but it wasn't until the 34th minute when Peter Kimlin was rewarded with the first of his two tries, converted by Gerrard, to extend Australia A's lead to 21-3. Kimlin was denied another try just minutes later when referee Willie Roos ruled a forward pass. However Australia A weren't done yet and punished Japan's poor handling by crossing over for a try right on half time, when Van Humphries capitalised on yet another bullocking run by Kimlin to score out wide and give Australia A a commanding 28-3 halftime lead.
The pain looked set to continue for Japan in the second half. James Alridge slotted another penalty for Japan in the 42nd minute, but Australia A replacement fly-half Sam Norton-Knight charged down an attempted clearance by Japan to pounce and extend Australia A's lead to 35-6, after Norton Knight's try was converted by Gerrard.
Alridge slotted another penalty two minutes later and so started an impressive fightback by the Brave Blossoms. Coach John Kirwan rang in the changes midway through the second half which brought about an immediate improvement to the Japanese Scrum and lineout in particular. Exacerbating the advantage for Japan was some ill-discipline from Australia A which saw prop Guy Sheperherdson (punching) and flanker Julian Salvi (repeated infringments) sent to the sin-bin in quick succession. The Japanese thrived against a 13-man Australia A team and Tomoaki Taniguchi crossed 0ver for 2 tries in three minutes to claw Japan back to 21-35.
Peter Kimlin was rewarded for an impressive debut with his second try in the 70th minute, which was again converted by Gerrard, to hand Australia A a satisfying 42-21 victory in their campaign opener.