Japan Put Tonga to the Sword

TOULOUSE, France (Nov. 18) – Japan coach Jamie Joseph said he was “really proud of the team” Saturday after they beat Tonga 39-6 at Stade Ernest Wallon.

“I thought the decision to come here a couple of days earlier than planned was a good idea especially after a couple of tough games against the World XV and the Wallabies,” he said.

“It allowed up to reflect on those first two performances and get our game right because we hadn’t been together for a long time. I thought that was a real performance.”

Lomano Lava Lemeki touched down twice and there were further five-pointers for Amanaki Lelei Mafi, Michael Leitch and Kenki Fukuoka with Yu Tamura kicking four conversions and two penalty goals.

“I thought our attack and defense were very clinical which it needed to be against a very big and physical Tongan team,” Joseph said.

Lemeki opened the scoring in the third minute and Japan went on to lead 27-6 at the break as the forwards laid the platform from which the backs could attack.

Sonatane Takulua kicked two penalty goals for the ‘Ikale Tahi, but their efforts to add to that were thwarted by a well-organized Brave Blossoms defensive line and some committed tackling.

The second half was a closer affair as the Tongan bench defied their inexperience to create a number of opportunities for Toutai Kefu’s team.

But Japan’s defense once again held firm with a try-saving tackle from Yutaka Nagare epitomizing the spirit of the team.

“Today was a mental victory where we were able to maintain our composure and toughness right through the 80 minutes and that is something to be proud of,” Joseph said.