Joseph Proud of Effort against England but Rues Discipline

LONDON (Nov. 17) – Japan coach Jamie Joseph was upset with his side’s second-half discipline but said overall he was proud with their display Saturday at Twickenham as they went down 35-15 to England.

“We gave sloppy penalties away and allowed England back in which was a little bit disappointing, but I’m proud of the players all the same,” he said.

“Our mentality is slowly changing, we’re starting to believe that we can take these bigger teams on and that’s going to help us next year (at the Rugby World Cup).”

After England had scored early through Danny Care, Japan responded in style on the back tries by captain Michael Leitch and Ryoto Nakamura in front of a packed house of 81,151.

Yu Tamura added a penalty and conversion to make it 15-10 at the break.

“The first 50 minutes everything was going our way,” said Leitch, who led by example as Japan dominated the breakdown. “But then we had a 10-minute lapse in concentration that cost us.”

That lapse began in the 55th minute as George Ford kicked a penalty before David Wilson crossed shortly after for England’s second try.

Further five-pointers came from Joe Cokanasiga and Dylan Hartley as Japan lost their grip on possession and territory and conceded too many penalties.

“We reached halftime in a fine manner but they showed what they are made of in the second half,” said Japan No. 8 Kazuki Himeno.

“Lots of things have been exposed but there were also many positives. It’s a game we can build on.”

Former Japan coach Eddie Jones praised the second-half performance of his England side.

“Japan are a difficult side to play against if you haven’t played against them,” he said. “The way we responded pleased me. We played like England in the second half, I can only recall Japan getting in our 22 once in that second period.”

The Brave Blossoms next play Russia and Joseph is hoping his side will take away some learnings from the England game and apply them next week as they build up to next year’s tournament in Japan when they open against the same team they will take on in Gloucester on Nov. 24.

“We played some really positive rugby and, most of the time, matched the physicality…(but) we need to be able to go with the big teams without giving penalties away and our decision-making and accuracy cost us.”