Japan 38-19 Samoa: Brave Blossoms on the verge of history as they stay unbeaten at World Cup
By PA Media
Last Updated: 05/10/19 1:53pm
Japan are on the verge of making the World Cup knockout rounds for the first time in their history after beating Samoa 38-19 in Toyota to top Pool A.
Kotaro Matsushima scored from the final play of the match to earn Japan a crucial bonus point, sending them three points clear of Ireland.
Timothy Lafaele, Kazuki Himeno and Kenki Fukuoka also scored for Japan, while Henry Taefu accounted for all of Samoa's points.
The boot of Yu Tamura fired Japan into a 6-0 lead before Taefu got Samoa on the board from the tee after 10 minutes.
Taefu and Tamura exchanged a further kick apiece before TJ Ioane was sin-binned for a late tackle, reducing Samoa to 14 men for 10 minutes - a fifth yellow card of the tournament for Steve Jackson's side.
Japan capitalised on their numerical advantage as Lafaele touched down following a fantastic run from Matsushima, Tamura adding the extras.
Taefu's third three-pointer saw Samoa go in 16-9 down at the break and he split the posts again early in the second to further reduce the deficit, before Tamura atoned for his first miss of the match by re-establishing Japan's seven-point lead.
Jamie Joseph's men finally gave themselves breathing space with Himeno's try from a driving maul, but Taefu added a converted try to his personal points haul six minutes from time to give his side hope of clinching at least a losing bonus point.
However, Japan pulled clear in the closing minutes, as Fukuoka and Matsushima went over in opposite corners to earn Japan an important bonus point of their own.