Rugby: Japan stun Samoa in test match

Winger Yoshikazu Fujita in action for Japan. Photo / Getty Images.
Winger Yoshikazu Fujita in action for Japan. Photo / Getty Images.

Asian rugby champions Japan stunned Samoa 33-14, registering a record seventh straight Test win to strike a psychological blow before they face the Pacific islanders at next year's World Cup.

Winger Yoshikazu Fujita scored two explosive first-half tries and fullback Ayumu Goromaru kicked 18 points in Tokyo as the "Brave Blossoms" beat Samoa for only the third time in 13 meetings.

"We've broken the record with seven wins in a row," Japan coach Eddie Jones told reporters. "That's a fantastic achievement. Our target next week is to make it eight," added the Australian before his team's tour of North America.

"We made hard work of it but the great thing is we created a lot of opportunities. I really liked the attitude of the players today and obviously we can improve."

Both are drawn in Pool B at the World Cup in England, alongside South Africa, Scotland and the United States.

Jones has set a quarter-final target but Japan's only previous victory at rugby's showcase tournament came against Zimbabwe back in 1991.

Japan disappointed at the 2011 World Cup under former All Black John Kirwan, beaten by hosts New Zealand, France and Tonga before drawing 23-23 with Canada.

However, Jones takes Japan into away Tests against Canada (June 7) and the United States (June 14), before a home game against Italy on June 21, on a wave of optimism.

The 54-year-old praised the influence of lock Hitoshi Ono after the 36-year-old won a Japan record 82nd cap.

"Every game he puts his body on the line," said Jones, whose team are now set to rise to 12th in the world rankings. "He's the model Japanese rugby forward player. He'll have 82 beers tonight -- that's a light night for him!"

Samoa coach Stephen Betham admitted his young side had been thoroughly outplayed. "It was a big Test for us as we build for the World Cup," he said. "We learn from our mistakes and move on. Japan work well as a unit. They have made big strides in the last couple of years."

AFP gjw

-AAP

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