Japan 30-10 Russia: Rugby World Cup match report and scorers

Japan's Kotaro Matsushima scores his side's second try
Japan's Kotaro Matsushima scores his side's second try

Japan launched Asia's first Rugby World Cup with a victory the host nation craved as they beat Russia 30-10 at Tokyo Stadium.


Japan 30-10 Russia

Japan tryscorers: Matsushima (3), Labuschagne
Japan conversions: Tamura, Matsuda
Japan penalties: Tamura (2)

Russia tryscorers: Golosnitsky
Russia conversions: Kushnarev
Russia penalties: Kushnarev


Match highlights

Japan v Russia (30-10) | Rugby World Cup 2019 Highlights

Match report

Japan launched Asia's first Rugby World Cup with a victory the host nation craved as they beat Russia 30-10 at Tokyo Stadium.

Four years after causing the World Cup's biggest shock by beating South Africa, Japan again took centre stage, but they were made to work hard by an unheralded Russian outfit.

Russia, making a first appearance on rugby union's global stage since 2011, led for most of the first half following wing Kirill Golosnitskiy's early try, but hat-trick hero Kotaro Matsushima sparked Japan into life.

The elusive wing claimed a try double before the break, then flanker Lappies Labuschagne dealt Russia a major blow by collecting an opportunist touchdown early in the second half.

And it was Matsushima who secured a bonus point when he completed his hat-trick 11 minutes from time, while fly-half Yu Tamura kicked two penalties and a conversion, with Rikiya Matsuda converting the final try.

Russia could not add to Golosnitskiy's try, apart from Yury Kushnarov's conversion and penalty as Japan confirmed a winning start in Pool A - a group that also includes Scotland and Ireland.

After a colourful and vibrant opening ceremony, which included World Rugby chairman and former England captain Sir Bill Beaumont making an official welcome, Russia dimmed the lights by scoring a fifth-minute try.

Japan full-back William Tupou made a hash of collecting a kick inside his own 22, and Golosnitskiy capitalised on his hesitancy to claim the competition's opening try, with Kushnarev converting.

Russia, ranked 10 places below their opponents in the world rankings and coached by Welshman Lyn Jones, showed no sign of nerves as they looked to rattle Japan through some strong early ball-carrying.

Russia posed plenty of questions, but Japan found an answer seven minutes later when some slick handling among their backs produced the required result when Matsushima finished impressively.

Errors, though, continued to abound in stamina-sapping conditions that saw players from both sides regularly taking on water.

Matsushima was denied a second try when replays showed the ball slipped agonisingly from his grasp as he crossed Russia's line, but he made amends four minutes later by breaching the opposition defence, with Tamura's conversion giving Japan a 12-7 interval advantage.

A Tamura penalty early in the second period extended Japan's lead, before Russia began to show signs of creaking when Labuschagne galloped clear on a 35-metre run that confirmed his team's third try.

Kushnarev and Tamura exchanged penalties during the final quarter, with 26-year-old Matsushima then finishing as he had started with another score to confirm a memorable contribution on the competition's opening night.

Reaction

Japan head coach Jamie Joseph admitted the World Cup hosts need to cut out the mistakes after battling to a 30-10 victory over Russia in the tournament opener at Tokyo Stadium.

He said: "The game was a challenge for us and the boys were nervous.

"We said before the game, it is all about expectation and the guys always prepare well but you realise just how much pressure there is on the guys and we're proud of the way they came through in the end.

"We made a lot of unforced errors. Our kicking game was pretty poor so we're going to fix it up quickly.

"But you really take your hat off to the Russians, they really took it up to us and they really put us under a lot of pressure. You've got to congratulate them."

Kotaro Matsushima collected a try double before half-time and then completed his treble with 11 minutes from time, fittingly claiming a bonus point for Japan.

He said: "It is my first three tries as a Japanese player. We were able to connect with each other and the roar of the fans became our driving force.

"I want our strong momentum to win to carry into the next match (against Ireland on 28 September)."

Russia captain Vasily Artemyev took some heart from his side's display.

He said: "You could see throughout the game we stuck to our game plan. A few penalties and a couple of missed opportunities, those are the things that made the difference in the end."

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