Matsushima hat-trick leads Japan past Russia
TOKYO (Sept. 20) – Japan opened their Pool A Rugby World Cup campaign with a win Friday night as they defeated Russia 30-10 at Tokyo Stadium.
Kotaro Matsushima scored a hat-trick and Pieter Labuschagne also touched down as the Brave Blossoms made sure of a bonus point, despite giving up the fastest opening try in a tournament opener.
A series of errors from the opening kickoff allowed Russia to set up camp in the Japan 22 and Kirill Golosnitskiy eventually touched down with just four minutes on the clock.
But Japan responded well with Timothy Lafaele and William Tupou combining to put Matsushima away for his first try.
The wing then had what he thought was a second five-pointer disallowed before he made sure two minutes from the break as he made the most of a break from Lafaele and a clever pass from Labuschagne to make it 12-7 at the break following Yu Tamura’s successful conversion.
The Japan flyhalf extended the lead early in the second half with a penalty before Labuschagne scored a good individual try from 40 meters out after ripping the ball off a Russian forward in the tackle.
Yury Kushnarev and Tamura then exchanged penalties to make it 23-10 with 17 minutes left to play, before Matsushima rounded off the scoring and made sure Japan finished the night with five points to their name.
Jaan’s next game is against World No.1 Ireland on Sept. 28, while Russia are in action again on Sept. 24 in Kumagaya against Samoa.