PNC- Japan on the rise
Japan's outstanding 35-13 win against Tonga on home soil in the IRB Pacific Nations Cup moves them above Canada into their highest ever rankings position of 15th.
Last weekend Japan stunned Tonga in the IRB Pacific Nations Cup, beating the islanders 35-13 at Sendai City's Yurtec Stadium for their first victory in the tournament. The Japanese pack, impressive against Australia A a week ago, fronted up well to the muscular Tongans and showed sharp discipline and tactical nous early on to lay the foundations for what was to prove a comfortable victory.
Pierre Hola's penalties twice gave the Tongans an early lead but the Japanese hit back on each occasion through James Arlidge, who added two more late in the half for a 12-6 half time lead.
Arlidge punished some Tongan indiscipline at the start of the second half before the Japanese cut loose, flanker Takashi Kikutani's try giving them a deserved 20-6 lead.
On 50 minutes Tonga hit back through their number 8 Lotu Filipine and although Hola converted the try to narrow the score to 20-13 the Japanese again showed great enterprise, fitness and most of all attacking endeavour to extend their lead twice in four minutes through wing Hirotoki Onozawa and full back Shaun Webb.
With the game won at 30-13, the Japanese added a fourth try in the dying minutes through Bryce Robins to make the final score 35-13. This will add drive into their game and continue the never say die attitude they are famous for.
The Cherry Blossoms next face Fiji in Tokyo on 22 June. Two years ago in Osaka Japan let Fiji sneak in for a win after getting so desperately close, this was also repeated in the RWC in France and the home side will be full focused on not letting a game slip away again.