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Japan beats Fiji 34-21 in Pacific Nations Cup rugby

KAMAISHI, Japan (AP) — Japan took a big step forward in its Rugby World Cup preparation on Saturday with a five-try 34-21 win over Fiji in the Pacific Nations Cup.

Kenki Fukuoka, Kotaro Matsushima, Timothy Lafaele and Kazuki Himeno scored tries to give Japan a comfortable 29-14 lead at halftime.

Matsushima added another after the break as Japan secured its first win over Fiji since 2011

Sam Matavesi scored two tries for the visitors while Levani Botia added the other.

The game was played before 13,135 spectators at Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium which was built on the grounds of two schools destroyed by the massive earthquake and tsunami that decimated much of Japan's northeastern coastline in 2011.

The Sept. 20 to Nov. 2 Rugby World Cup will feature 20 teams playing across 12 cities stretching from Japan's northern main island of Hokkaido to Kyushu in the southwest.

It's the first time the event will be held outside of the traditional rugby strongholds, having started in 1987 with Australia and New Zealand as co-hosts. The tournament has also been played across Britain and Ireland, France and South Africa.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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