You are here
Team USA got off to a sluggish start to day two, barely eking past a Japanese side that surrendered a staggering 122 points in pool play. The Brave Blossoms led in the second half, but the Eagles captured a 19-14 lead and were fortunate to hold onto it.
It started sloppy, as mishandles and a lack of intent from the Eagles meant no line breaks for the first several minutes. Eventually, Carlin Isles would probe up one sideline and draw enough attention for Danny Barrett to jog in on the opposite touch line after the ball was shifted his way. The conversion was good – 7-0.
Japan took the next restart, but an interception from Andrew Durutalo gave the USA the ball. Folau Niua lost it in the next tackle, and Japan was able to beat a scrambling defense for the tying converted try.
Japan then nearly doubled up the score, but a try-saving tackle and poach attempt by Niua resulted in a penalty. The Eagles punted for touch with time for just one more play in the half. They won the lineout, but Japan pressured defensively, forcing a turnover and earning the go-ahead score. The Brave Blossoms led 14-7 at halftime.
The second stanza didn’t start well, either. Niua was bossed in a tackle, resulting in a turnover. Luckily, Japan missed on the ensuing lineout, and Barrett bowled over two defenders en route to a try. With the conversion, the score was knotted at 14-14.
After forcing passes, some very poor, to Isles much of the first half, he was finally put in space with a good ball to work with not long after Barrett’s try. He sped into the corner for the go-ahead, but the conversion was missed – 19-14.
A flurry of penalties gave Japan plenty of opportunity to level the table or steal the win in the dying minute. The last of which was on Durutalo, who tackled a Japanese ballcarrier without retreating 10 meters from the previous penalty. It happened right in front of the posts, likely preventing a try.
It could have drawn a penalty try, but instead Durutalo was binned and play carried on. Niua put in a big tackle, and Barrett poached it to seal the win.
The prize is a Challenge Trophy semifinal meeting with Kenya, who beat Russia 24-5 in their quarterfinal, at 9:00 p.m. ET.