Sakura Fifteen to Take on Scotland in Final WXV Match

Japan Head Coach Lesley McKenzie has today named the Sakura Fifteen side to face Scotland in their third and final WXV2 match at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town on Friday, 23 October. Kicking off at 14:00 local time, 21:00 JST, the Sakura Fifteen will be looking to finish the tournament strongly, following their 32-10, four-try, bonus point win over Samoa last Saturday and their 28-12 loss to Italy in their opening match the weekend prior.

Japan currently sit in third place within the six-team tournament, with one win from two matches. They would need to defeat Scotland by 15 points or more and score a bonus point, while denying their opponents a losing bonus point to move above the second-placed Scots in the final tournament standings. With Scotland having scored bonus point victories over both South Africa and the USA, they will provide a stern test for a Sakura Fifteen looking to secure back-to-back wins after having their six-match win-streak brought to an end by Italy two weeks ago.

McKenzie has made the slightest of changes to the team that defeated Samoa, with one new player coming into the matchday 23, along with two positional changes.

In the front-row, loosehead prop, Hinata Komaki moves back to the bench to make way for the experienced Sachiko Kato who packs down alongside Kotomi Taniguchi at hooker and Yuka Sadaka at tighthead. Nijiho Nagata joins Komaki on the bench as the other reserve prop, while Asuka Kuga is the reserve rake.

The second-row sees the same locking combination for the third week running, with Masami Kawamura and Otoka Yoshimura starting in the engine room, while Jennifer Nduka starts that match from the pine.

In the backrow, Japan’s most capped player, Seina Saito will play her 40th test for her country from number-eight, while Sakurako Korai and Sakura Fifteen Captain, Iroha Nagata who both scored tries against Samoa, start at blindside and openside respectively. Ayano Nagai starts from the bench as the backrow replacement.

In the halves, Moe Tsukui comes into the team for the first time this tournament at halfback. She will play alongside Ayasa Otsuka at flyhalf who enjoyed a strong game against Samoa. The starting centres see a direct positional swap with Kaneko Kobayashi moving this week to inside-centre, while last week’s try scoring centre, Haruka Hirotsu moves to outside-centre.

The back-three once again sees Komachi Imakugi on the left wing, with Misaki Matsumura, the 18-year-old speedster covering the right-wing and Sora Nishimura slotting in at fullback. The backline reserves consist of Kotono Yasuo and Minori Yamamoto. They are joined by Nao Ando, who scored a well worked try last weekend against Samoa.

Commenting on the team selection, Sakura Fifteen High-Performance Advisor Simon Middleton said:

“Scotland are a very good side with many players contracted in the English game. They have a strong set piece, are well organised in defence and have good connections in attack. They have some very good, experienced players with real strengths, including an attacking back-three with lots of pace, as well as an experienced pack, particularly with their back-row. So for us, it’s about looking at how we played against Samoa and how we can build on what was a very good performance. We will look at Scotland and see how we can use our strengths to exploit areas of their game and apply pressure.”

The match will be telecast live and available on catch-up via JSports On-demand, and delayed telecast will be shown on J SPORTS 1 from 13:00 JST on Saturday 28 October. The entire WXV tournament will also be available on RugbyPass TV, World Rugby’s new global streaming platform.

Team List:

1Sachiko KATOYOKOGAWA Musashino Artemi-Stars164892000/2/1921
2Kotomi TANIGUCHIYOKOGAWA Musashino Artemi-StarsNKS Corp163741995/4/1012
3Yuka SADAKAHirosaki sakura ovalsSEINAN Corp.1671001994/11/219
4Masami KAWAMURARKU GRACEMorooka Co.,Ltd.173701999/7/1310
5Otoka YOSHIMURAARUKAS QUEEN KUMAGAYARissho Univ.174832001/5/1514
6Sakurako KORAINippon Sport Science Univ.Nippon Sport Science Univ.168742003/4/98
7Iroha NAGATAARUKAS QUEEN KUMAGAYAKanto Foods Co.,Ltd.167701998/12/2126
8Seina SAITOMIE PEARLSSumitomo Wiring Systems167731992/5/3039
9Moe TSUKUIYOKOGAWA Musashino Artemi-StarsLIBEST Corp.153532000/3/2827
10Ayasa OTSUKARKU GRACEIBARAKI TOYOPET Co.,Ltd.163631999/5/520
11Komachi IMAKUGIARUKAS QUEEN KUMAGAYARissho Univ.158622002/1/619
12Kanako KOBAYASHIYOKOGAWA Musashino Artemi-Stars162701998/11/1311
13Haruka HIROTSUNanairo PRISM FUKUOKAWaseda Univ.169682000/10/294
14Misaki MATSUMURATokyo Sankyu PhoenixWaseda Univ.169682005/3/64
15Sora NISHIMURAMIE PEARLSChoko Co.,Ltd.167682000/9/297
16Hinata KOMAKINippon Sport Science Univ.Nippon Sport Science Univ.166782001/5/913
17Asuka KUGEARUKAS QUEEN KUMAGAYAGoto Hygine Consultant163751994/9/227
18Nijiho NAGATA162802000/12/615
19Jennifer NDUKAHokkaido Barbarians DianaMedical System Network165742000/10/184
20Ayano NAGAIYOKOHAMA TKMYokohama Mirai Healthcare System168841997/10/1420
21Kotono YASUOBRAVE LOUVEToyo Univ.156612001/10/28
22Minori YAMAMOTOWorcester Warriors Women169701996/12/927
23Nao ANDOBRAVE LOUVETokyo Ariake Univ.169622001/7/174