Japan down brave debutants Chile at Rugby World Cup


Japan have had to withstand a ferocious physical challenge from debutants Chile in their bonus-point 42-12 Rugby World Cup win in Toulouse as coach Jamie Joseph saluted their courageous opponents for tackling "like demons" in the searing heat.

Japan scored six tries in what looks a comfortable win on the scoreboard but was anything but in reality for the 2019 World Cup quarter-finalists on Sunday against a fired-up, emotional South American side, many of who were in tears at the anthems.

"Chile came with a really spirited performance, really hearty, tackled like demons, turned our ball over, really put us under pressure. We had to deal with that without losing confidence," Joseph said.

"The support for their team was amazing. They cheered for everything, as the Japanese do, so you really feel they had a whole bunch of people behind them."

Japan captain Yutaka Nagare conceded they struggled with the physicality of the newcomers at times.

"We struggled a little bit physically, but we executed our game plan, which was great for us," he said.

After opening the scoring through an early try from Rodrigo Fernandez, Chile, the lowest-ranked team at this World Cup, added another from Alfonso Escobar with Santiago Vila slotting over the conversion.

But Japan made the most of Chile's two yellow cards to prevail with a brace by Amato Fakatava and other tries from Jone Naikabula, Michael Leitch, Ryoto Nakamura and Warner Dearns, all six being converted by Rikiya Matsuda.

A rousing rendition of the Chilean national anthem was followed by a spirited start from the first World Cup debutants since Russia in 2011, and then a dream try in the sixth minute, manufactured with Latin flair and finished off with a dollop of good fortune.

Fullback Inaki Ayarza broke through two tackles to set up the opportunity, but captain Martin Sigren looked to have spoilt it when the ball was knocked out of his hand in the tackle.

But it went backwards and quick-thinking five-eighth Fernandez pounced on the loose ball, dribbling it forward and then diving on it to dot down.

Chilean euphoria lasted less than 120 seconds as they dropped the ball from the kick-off, allowing Japan to score as lock Fakatava showed a fleetness of foot to burst through and sprint away from the defenders for a quick reply.

Basic errors betrayed Chile's naivety and a late tackle from Matias Dittus on fellow prop Koo Ji-won meant a 10-minute spell in the sin bin, during which time Japan went in the lead on the half-hour mark as winger Naikabula stretched over for their second try.

Sigren was also binned after head contact in a tackle on Kotaro Matsushima and with the numerical advantage Japan were able to maul over on the stroke of halftime as Fakatava claimed his second try and stretched the lead to 21-7.

But the rookies continued to resist as Escobar burst over for a 48th minute try to fire up the crowd and cut Japan's lead to nine points.

That was as good as it got for the gutsy Chileans, with Leitch scoring Japan's fourth try in the 53rd minute, centre Nakamura the next 10 minutes from time and 21-year-old Dearns used all of his two-metre frame to stretch over and score at the end of the game.