Brave Blossoms host South Korea Round 2 of the Asia Rugby Championship shifts to Japan on Saturday with the Brave Blossoms hosting South Korea in a rematch of Round 1.
And it is fair to say there were contrasting moods in the two camps as they flew over this week from Incheon to Tokyo.
South Korea may have lost 47-29 but the five tries they scored highlighted the improvements made by the side under head coach John Walters and his assistant Deon Muir.
“We were happy with parts of the performance but a loss is still a loss,” Walters said Friday following his side’s captain’s run at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground.
“The boys showed good mental toughness and after taking a while to get used to the tempo of the game did well.”
Walters said the key now was to get consistency from his team and the coach did his part by making just two changes.
Veteran Kim Sung Soo returns to the side at outside centre while Chang Yong Heung is rewarded for his superb performance last week with a start on the left wing.
“We wanted some genuine pace out wide,” Walters said of Chang’s inclusion. “But he is only as good as the 14 players inside him. We need to get front-foot ball and put him in space.”
While Walters has kept changes to a minimum, Jamie Joseph has made wholesale changes following the game in which he said his side were “out passioned.”
Six of the changes come in the pack, while Rugby World Cup 2015 hero Akihito Yamada adds some pace and experience to the backline.
“Last week we gave some young guys a crack and they didn’t take it,” Joseph said. “Some have lost their job and some get another chance because you can’t drop everyone.”
The former New Zealand and Japan international said South Korea had been “more desperate, more passionate and more aggressive and I expect the same tomorrow plus 30 percent based on the confidence they have gained from that game. Tomorrow will be a tough game.”
The Brave Blossoms contain one potential new cap in Takuya Yamasawa and Joseph said he expected the young flyhalf to get some game time.
“He is a player with potential but still very young. He will get on in the second half and hopefully we will be in a better position then than we were last week.”
Story By : Rich Freeman