Joseph Says Defence Will be Key Against Tonga
OSAKA, Japan (Aug. 2) – Japan coach Jamie Joseph said he was expecting a tough game against “a very confrontational” Tonga side on Saturday as the Brave Blossoms continue their Pacific Nations Cup campaign at Hanazono Rugby Stadium.
“I watched last week’s game between Samoa and Tonga and it was physically like no other. And that’s what is coming at us. They will try to outmuscle us,” he said.
Joseph said he very pleased with the first 40 minutes of last week’s game against Fiji, but said his side dropped off in the second half.
“We started very well and were very clinical and executed the game plan perfectly. But in the second half we made a lot of mistakes and missed a lot of tackles”
Defence he said would be key on Saturday.
“The Tongans are very big men, huge and powerful and they will be very direct I imagine. They will try to use their size and attack us through the pick-and-go, and their big outside backs. We will need to shut down their space through our line speed.”
Right wing Kotaro Matsushima said the team will look to put boot to ball in attack and try to be patient in defence.
He also hoped the conditions would suit the hosts.
“They are such a physical side. How much they can play in this heat and humidity is an important factor,” he said.
“We’ve been able to play under different game plans. I hope we can demonstrate the depth of our play – that we can play both structured and unstructured rugby.”
Tonga coach Toutai Kefu, meanwhile, said he was very impressed with the Japan performance in Kamaishi.
“I thought it would be a lot closer or even that Fiji would win,” he said.
But he was hopeful his side would perform well on Saturday.
“We want to put out a performance that is inspiring not only to the Tongan people but also to the Japanese people,” he said. “Last time we played Japan, they beat us quite convincingly so you’d have to say they are the favorites after last week’s performance. But we are improving every week.”