Japan v Romania , Japan topped Romania 33-21 on Saturday to get their June test campaign off to a winning start.
Akihito Yamada, Kenki Fukuoka and Michael Leitch scored tries while Jumpei Ogura kicked four penalties and three conversions from as many attempts.
“The game played out as we expected,” Japan coach Jamie Joseph said. “On one side of the ledger you had big guys playing a set-piece orientated game that put us under pressure. And we played our style and fortunately we came out on top.”
It was the visitors who got off to the best start with flyhalf Florin Vlaicu landing two early penalties.
But they then struggled with the heat and humidity as Japan started to get their high-tempo game in gear.
Yamada touched down following a well placed kick from Timothy Lafaele and Fukuoka scored following a good long pass from Derek Carpenter either side of an exchange of penalties between Ogura and Vlaicu as Japan went into the break 23-9 up.
“The heat and humidity was a big factor,” said Romania coach Lynn Howells. “The players found it very difficult to speak in the first 30 minutes and our communication and defense suffered.”
Japan’s good spell continued after the break with Leitch sprinting over from 30 metres out within 90 seconds of the restart.
But they then faded as the Romanian power game came to the fore.
Mihai Macovei and Fonovai Tangimana both touched down to close the gap to 12 points, the latter while Heiichiro Ito was in the sin bin for repeated team infringements.
“We started playing to their speed,” rued Japan captain Shota Horie, who was playing his 50th test match for his country.
But with 15 players back on the field, Japan regrouped and the game closed with the hosts almost claiming a fourth try.
“Japan deserved the game, they were the better side over the whole 80 minutes,” said Howells.
Joseph, meanwhile, said he was pleased with the performance and the win but admitted his team needed to play better next week when they take on Ireland in the first game of a two-test series.
“I think we can, I think we can play a lot better,” he said.
Japan v Romania
Story : Rich Freeman