INCHEON, South Korea (April 22) – The 2017 Asia Rugby Championship got underway Saturday at Incheon Namdong Asiad Rugby Field with Japan defeating South Korea 47-29.
The visitors outscored their gallant hosts seven tries to five to ensure they head into next week’s rematch between the two teams in Tokyo with a bonus-point win.
“Hats off to South Korea, they played with a lot more spirit than we did,” said Japan coach Jamie Joseph, who was particularly disappointed with the defensive effort of his side.
Japan got off to the best possible start with Ryoto Nakamura and Kazuhiko Usami both crossing the chalk in the opening seven minutes.
But South Korea hit back with two quick tries of their own through Han Kun-kyu and Kim Jeep as their forwards took the game to Japan.
Further tries from Nakamura and Usami and a try on debut from Ryuji Noguchi saw the teams turn around with Japan leading 35-12, before the second half started in sensational style with No. 8 Lee Yong-seung touching down within 20 seconds of the restart.
Scrumhalf Shin Ki-cheol then dived over following some good work from his pack as the hosts closed to within 11 points.
Noguchi and Shintaro Ishihara ensured Japan would come away with the win, before Chang Yong-heung closed the game out in sensational style finishing off a move that started on the Korean goal line.
“We’re pretty happy,” said South Korea assistant coach Deon Muir. “The forwards gave us a platform from which we could build, though a few penalties eventually cost us.”
Joseph, meanwhile, said there was plenty to work on in the next week.
“You are always going to make mistakes in attack when you play together for the first time and that doesn’t bother me,” he said. “But defensively we missed a lot of one-on-one tackles and we weren’t desperate at times to get back.”
Article by : Rich Freeman
photo by : Korea Rugby Union