Japan bounced back from a less-than impressive Asia Rugby Championship opener as they ran in 12 tries to beat South Korea 80-10 on Saturday in Tokyo.
Five tries in the first half and seven in the second saw Jamie Joseph’s side beat a spirited South Korean side, who to their credit never gave up.
“They responded well from last week’s performance,” Joseph said of his team. “Defensively we saw a turnaround in attitude. We stopped them and drove them back and stopped them from getting over the gain line. And in attack we showed confidence, skill and speed.”
Amanaki Lotoahea touched down three times and there were further tries from Samuela Anise, Yutaka Nagare, Naoki Ozawa, Akihito Yamada, Atsushi Sakate, Rikiya Matsuda, Ryohei Yamanaka, Ryoto Nakamura and Takeshi Hino.
Jumpei Ogura slotted five conversions from seven attempts, while debutant Takuya Yamasawa kicked five-from-five.
“The majority of our tries were scored by the outside backs which means the forwards were doing their job and creating space and front-foot ball,” said Joseph.
Trailing 31-0 after 33 minutes, the visitors closed out the first half with a try by Kim Hyun Soo and added a second in the 49th minute by Yu Jae Hyeok.
But they struggled to match the physicality of the Japan forwards and the speed of the Brave Blossoms backs.
“We made some good line breaks but the support wasn’t urgent enough and we didn’t look after the ball,” rued South Korea coach John Walters.
Walters said he had hoped his side would build on last week’s 47-29 loss, but admitted his side had been handed a rugby lesson.
“We knew Japan would be tough. We needed to step up and we didn’t,” he said. “We need to go back to the drawing board in terms of the clean-up and getting front-foot ball.”
Joseph, meanwhile, was pleased with the mental toughness shown by his side,
“It’s very easy to coach a team that takes responsibility for their performance. The team trained very hard this week, took responsibility for last week and got things right.”
Story By : Rich Freeman
photo credit : Kenji