Ireland get their revenge
MATCH REPORT: Ireland got revenge for their World Cup loss when they beat Japan 39-31 in Dublin on Saturday.
Without the services of many frontline players – mostly on British and Irish Lions duty in South Africa – the Irish outscored Japan by five tries to four in an entertaining fixture.
Leading by just two points (19-17) at half-time, the hosts came through with a strong second half performance top overpower an impressive and determined Japanese team
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Supporters returned to Lansdowne Road for the first time in 17 months to enjoy a fluctuating Test.
With seven of their contingent on British and Irish Lions duty and captain Johnny Sexton – along with Keith Earls and Cian Healy – rested, there was a fresh look to the hosts in their first meeting against Japan since the 2019 World Cup.
On that occasion, Japan pulled off an all-time shock in the pool stages and they threatened a repeat in Dublin, where around 3,000 spectators were in attendance at the venue for the first time since February last year.
It was a lacklustre and error-strewn first half from the Irish, but they went in at the interval 19-17 ahead courtesy of tries from centre pairing Chris Farrell and Stuart McCloskey and tighthead prop Finlay Bealham.
Flank Josh Van der Flier and wing Jacob Stockdale went over after the break while Joey Carbery’s four conversions were followed by two penalties that ultimately took the wind out of the sails of Japan.
The visitors’ tries came from Michael Leitch, Timothy Lafaele, Siosaia Fifita and Naoto Saito, with Yu Tamura adding 11 points with the boot.
While they led on several occasions, including a 24-19 advantage in the second half, Japan were ultimately left to reflect on successive losses, having been beaten by Warren Gatland’s Lions 28-10 at Edinburgh last weekend.
Man of the match: Hard-working forwards like James Moore, Michael Leitch and Pieter Labuschagne kept Japan in contention. Flyhalf Yu Tamura pulled the strings and created opportunities for his team – including setting up the score by Siosaia Fifita early in the second half. The best of the Irish forwards were Ultan Dillane, James Ryan and the very impressive Josh van der Flier – who came close and would have been deserved of the award. However, we are going with Irish scrumhalf Jamison Gibson Park as our Man of the Match. He did the basics well and had some sniping breaks at crucial times – including for the crucial Josh van der Flier try.
Moment of the match: Nine tries means there were several really entertaining scores. The most crucial of those were the Josh van der Flier try in the 49th minute – a score that saw Ireland regain the lead, an advantage they held to the end.
Villain: No villains. Just heroes.
Tries: Farrell, McCloskey, Bealham, Van der Flier, Stockdale
Cons: Carbery 4
Pens: Carbery 2
Tries: Leitch, Lafaele, Fifita, Saito
Cons: Tamura 4
Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Jamison Gibson Park, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 James Ryan (captain), 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Ronan Kelleher, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 John Ryan, 19 Ryan Baird, 20 Gavin Coombes, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Shane Daly.
Japan: 15 Kotaro Matsushima, 14 Semisi Masirewa, 13 Timothy Lafaele, 12 Ryoto Nakamura, 11 Siosaia Fifita, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Naoto Saito, 8 Tevita Tatafu, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Michael Leitch (captain), 5 James Moore, 4 Wimpie van der Walt, 3 Jiwon Koo, 2 Atsushi Sakate, １ Keita Inagaki.
Replacements: 16 Kosuke Horikoshi, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Asaeli Ai Valu, 19 Jack Cornelsen Panasonic, 20 Tevita Tatafu, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Rikiya Matsuda, 23 Shane Gates.
Referee: Karl Dickson (England)
Assistant referees: Luke Pearce (England), Andrea Piardi (Italy)
TMO: Claire Hodnett (England)