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Japan end World Cup campaign with 28-18 victory over United States at Kingsholm

Published 11/10/2015

Eddie Jones' Japan side collected three wins in Pool B
Eddie Jones' Japan side collected three wins in Pool B

Japan ended their World Cup campaign exactly how they started it - by making history.

Three weeks after causing the sport's greatest upset through defeating twice world champions South Africa in Brighton, Eddie Jones' team saw off the United States 28-18 at Kingsholm.

By doing so, they became the first team in 28 years of World Cup rugby to win three pool games and not secure a quarter-final place.

Japan finished two points behind Pool B runners-up Scotland after tries by wings Kotaro Matsushima and Yoshikazu Fujita and substitute Amanaki Mafi saw them home to a hard-earned victory.

Full-back Ayumu Goromaru, one of the tournament's outstanding players, kicked both conversions and landed three penalties as Japan, who were guided to their best World Cup performance by coaching mastermind Jones, concluded a campaign that saw them beat the United States, South Africa and Samoa - losing only to Scotland.

The Americans replied with tries from wing Takudzwa Ngwenya and full-back Chris Wyles, while fly-half Alan MacGinty booted a penalty double and one conversion, but they became the latest team to be undone by Japan's excellence.

The United States also ended the pool stage as one of only two teams not to collect a point from four games, joining Uruguay, who finished bottom of the competition's toughest group behind Australia, Wales, England and Fiji.

MacGinty struck first for the USA with an early long-range penalty, but Japan's proved swift and incisive when they launched a brilliant counter-attack from deep inside their own half.

Fujita and fly-half Kosei Ono were architects of the adventure, and a flowing move was finished majestically by Matsushima, before Goromaru's conversion made it 7-3.

It was a notable statement of intent by Japan, but they were rocked by a slick score from their opponents after 26 minutes when Biarritz speedster Ngwenya was freed in space by a long midfield pass from skipper Wyles, and he enjoyed a clear run to the line.

But America's lead lasted just two minutes as the Japan forwards rumbled to within touching distance of the line, and Fujita finished things off before Goromaru's conversion established a six-point advantage.

And a Goromaru penalty shortly afterwards took him past 700 Test match points - only 12 other players have achieved that feat - as Japan opened up a 17-8 interval lead.

Goromaru opened the second-half scoring through another successful penalty as Japan began to pull away, and, although the United States' forwards continued working hard at close quarters, they lacked the fluency required to break down a well-organised defence.

MacGinty then kicked his second penalty, but Japan claimed a third try from Mafi less than 60 seconds after American prop Eric Fry was sin-binned for hacking the ball out of scrum-half Fumiaki Tanaka's hands.

Wyles' touchdown nine minutes from time, converted by MacGinty, gave the Americans hope of a losing bonus point, but Goromaru ripped it away from them by completing his penalty hat-trick with just four minutes left.

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