Wednesday 23 October 2019

Sloppy Blossoms show weaknesses in victory

Japan 30 Russia 10

'The Brave Blossoms have the potential to cause Ireland problems, particularly out wide with their fast and loose offloading game.' (stock photo)
'The Brave Blossoms have the potential to cause Ireland problems, particularly out wide with their fast and loose offloading game.' (stock photo)
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Japan got the result they wanted, the supporters got what they came for and World Rugby went home happy.

Everyone was a winner on the opening night of the World Cup in Tokyo - except Russia, of course, who are in for a long tournament.

The spectacular opening ceremony lived up to the hype, it's just a pity the standard of the game didn't. It was wild, it was fun, but it was littered with sloppy, basic errors.

The attendance of 45,745 was 4,225 shy of capacity, which is perhaps why the game was held here and not in Yokohama at the bigger stadium where Ireland will play Scotland and where the final will be held.

Back in Yokohama, Joe Schmidt will have taken a keen interest and will feel that he can exploit Japan's weaknesses.

The Brave Blossoms have the potential to cause Ireland problems, particularly out wide with their fast and loose off-loading game. From Schmidt's point of view, the key word there is 'loose'.

Japan might be a lot of fun to watch, but they will offer up plenty of opportunities.

William Tupou had a nightmare at full-back as he couldn't get to grips with Russia's aerial bombardment.

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If Rob Kearney recovers in time, he could potentially get a lot of joy in that area unless Jamie Joseph mixes up his back-field selection.

To their credit, Russia asked plenty of questions of Japan and even threatened to spoil the party with an early try that was created in Blackrock.

Russia's captain Vasily Artemyev learned a lot during his playing days in Dublin and it was his towering kick that forced Tupou's error.

Ultimately, though, Japan had far too much quality and Russia didn't have enough fitness. Should that really come as a surprise? After all, this is a team who were beaten by a Connacht second-string side two weeks ago, as well as Jersey before that. Ireland will put up a big score.

Long after the final whistle had sounded, the Japanese players were still out on the pitch soaking up the atmosphere. They will now enjoy two extra days of rest compared to Ireland.

The hosts are up and running. Next stop Shizuoka.

Japan - W Tupou; K Matsushima, T Lafaele, R Kakamura, L Lemeki; Y Tamura (R Matsuda 60), Y Nagare (F Tanaka 60); K Inagaki (I Nakajima 54), S Horie (A Sakate 60), A Ai Valu (J Koo 54); W can der Walt (L Thompson 60), J Moore; M Leitch (c) (H Tui 71), P Labuschagne, K Himeno.

Russia - V Artemyev (c); G Davydov, D Gerasimov (V Sozonob 67), K Golosnitskiy; Y Kushnarev (R Gaisin 67), V Dorofeev; V Morozov, S Selskii (E Matveev 65), K Gotovtsev ( A Bitiev 67); A Ostrikov, B Fedotko (A Garbuzov 60) V Zhivatov (A Sychev 65), T Gadzhiev, N Vavilin.

Ref - N Owens (Wales)

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