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Dublin: 9°C Tuesday 18 May 2021


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Next up, it’s the Pool A match between Tonga and Japan from the Okara Events Centre in Whangarei.

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Full-Time: Tonga 31-18 Japan

Tonga: Lilo; Vainikolo, Piutau, Fatafehi, Hufanga; Morath, Moa; Tonga’uiha, Lutui, Filise; Lokotui, Hehea; Kalamafoni, Vaiomounga, Ma’afu.

Japan: Webb; Endo, Tupuailei, Nicholas, Onozawa; Arlidge, Tanaka; Hirashima, Horie, Hatakeyama; Thompson, Kitagawa; Taniguchi, Leitch, Kikutani.

The match has started…

Tonga are jubilant as they finally cross the Japanese line. The referee has to consult the TV judge but the try is awarded. Vili Ma’afu is the scorer.

The TMO’s decision is pending on a Japanese try… It’s given! Seemed to us to be a double movement, but we don’t make the decisions. It’s Hatakeyama’s try.

Tonga go straight up the pitch and over! No doubt about this one as Lokotui crosses for his first international try. Kurt Morath converts.

A superb try for Japan from Michael Leitch, who had saved a Tongan try only minutes earlier.

“You can take as long as you like as long as you kick ‘em over!” Morath is successful with his first penalty of the game.

Japan fly-half James Arlidge is sent to the sin bin for stepping offside as Tonga pile on the pressure. Morath makes no mistake from the penalty. Big blow for Japan with Arlidge their key playmaker. Webb goes into the No.10 position.

Japan are already up to seven handling errors, which goes a long way to explaining their current predicament.

Shaun Webb lands his first penalty of the game for Japan.

This all bodes well for an explosive second half. Tonga have made the most of Japan’s handling errors, while Japan have exposed the holes in Tonga’s defence.

We’re back on…

Brilliant play from Onozawa to deny Tonga, who had broken brilliantly with Vainikolo.

No problem for Morath as he restores Tonga’s eight point advantage with another penalty.

A stunning try from Fetu’u Vainikolo, who has been exceptional in the second half. He takes a fine pass from Piutau before barging over. Morath converts superbly.

Japan are denied a try by the TMO. Not enough evidence to give it.

Alisa Tupuailai works the angles to score his 21st try in 19 tests for Japan.

Morath extends Tonga’s lead further with another penalty.

Tonga have this one sewn up, as Japan seek the consolation prize of a bonus point.

Tonga punish Japan for making too many mistakes, coming away with three tries. Kurt Morath was in fine form from dead ball situations, bagging 16 points in total. Japan did not disgrace themselves but some sloppy defensive play cost them in the finish. That’s all for this morning…

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