The Latest: Japan reaches first World Cup quarterfinal

By Associated Press 14 October 2019, 12:00AM

TOKYO (AP) — The Latest on Day 24 of the Rugby World Cup in Japan (all times local):

9:45 p.m.

Japan got the chance to prove it was a worthy quarterfinalist and took it bravely with a 28-21 win over Scotland to bring some joy to a host country reeling from a ferocious typhoon overnight.

The tournament host swept Pool A and will play South Africa next week. And it has form against the two-time champion, after producing the so-called Miracle of Brighton to upset the Springboks in 2015.

Scotland goes home.

Winger Kenki Fukuoka scored a try in the first half and touched down again three minutes after the break as Japan secured a four-try bonus point with almost half a game to play at a Yokohama stadium packed with 72,000 people almost entirely wearing red-and-white striped shirts.

The game that almost didn't happen because of Typhoon Hagibis then become a classic. Japan led 21-7 at halftime with three tries after conceding early when Scottish flyhalf Finn Russell strolled through some weak defense in the seventh minute.

It had barely restarted when Fukuoka stripped the ball from Chris Harris and ran away to extend the lead to 28-7.

That's when Scotland threw caution to the wind. Two tries in six minutes to front-rowers Willem Nel and Zander Fagerson narrowed the gap to seven points and set up a tension-filled last 25 minutes.

Both teams threw everything into attack and defended grimly. The Scots repelled 22 phases from Japan on the hour before a relieving penalty.

Three minutes from fulltime, Matsushima accidentally carried the ball back over his line, giving Scotland a five-yard scrum and a chance to equalize. But the Japanese defended their line, won back possession and wound down the clock.


8:45 p.m.

Japan is leading Scotland 21-7 in the last of the 40 pool games and is potentially 40 minutes away from reaching the quarterfinals for the first time.

Scotland needs a win to have any chance of progressing to the knockout stages and took an early lead when flyhalf Finn Russell beat two defenders in a solo run from close range and touched down near the posts. 

Japan responded with three tries, using its speed to attack Scotland out wide

After opting against a penalty attempt within range, Yu Tamura didn't have the distance to land a long-range effort before Japan decided to go ball-in-hand to score.

From halfway, Japan spread the ball left to find both speedsters in space. Kenki Fukuoka almost got around his opposite but lost his footing in the tackle and somehow managed a one-handed offload on his inside to Kotaro Matsushima, who sprinted away to score.

A jinking run from Matsushima was the spark for Japan's second try, with prop Keita Inagaki diving over under the crossbar following a string of inside passes

Tamura missed another penalty attempt from near the right touchline but again it resulted in a try another minute later.

After a Scottish 22-meter restart, Japan spread the ball left, where Tim Lafaele grubbered a kick through for Fukuoka to grab one-handed and stumbled over to score.

Tamura converted from the sideline right on halftime.


7:45 p.m.

The game that caused so much angst for organizers has finally kicked off at the Rugby World Cup. Players from Japan and Scotland lined up on the field in Yokohama and, for a minute, the 72,000-strong crowd went silent.

That was to pay respects for the dead and injured from the ferocious typhoon which hit Japan overnight and which almost caused the last of the 40 pool-stage games to be canceled.

Scotland needs to beat Japan to have a chance of progressing to the quarterfinals. Japan needs to avoid defeat to advance to the knockout stage for the first time.


7:40 p.m.

Canada's players have been helping locals to clean up the damage in the town of Kamaishi following the impact of Typhoon Hagibis.

After Canada's final Rugby World Cup match against Namibia in Pool B was called off on safety grounds, the players and management took to the streets to help with the clean-up operation in Kamaishi — up north — following widespread damage.

"In times like this there are a lot more important things than rugby and when we got here we saw people's houses absolutely destroyed, water (rising) up the walls," Canada flyhalf Peter Nelson said. "We're just trying to our very small part and help them in any way we can."

Rugby World Cup organizers released video footage of Canada's players grabbing shovels and brooms to help sweep debris off the roads and from inside people's homes, as well as clearing away large chunks of soggy mud.

"We felt for the people of Kamaishi," lock Josh Larsen said. "About 15 of us came down, (we're) happy to help."


7:10 p.m.

Wales will play France in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals after laboring past Uruguay 35-13 to top Pool D.

The Welsh swept a pool for the first time since 1987.

Their victory left Australia to play England in another quarterfinal.

Coach Warren Gatland gave 11 Wales players their first starts in the tournament and said he'd consider them for the quarterfinals team if they impressed, but few impressed in a dominating display plagued by unforced errors.

In the face of Uruguay's scrambling, scrappy defense, Wales could score only four legitimate tries and received a penalty try.

Two more tries were ruled out on video review, and three others were bombed. Winger Hallam Amos had three ruled out, all of them his own fault.

The fumbling and bumbling meant Uruguay was in the match at halftime, trailing only 7-6. While the Teros never looked like winning, they managed to humble the Welsh by scoring their only try while down to 14 men.


6:10 p.m.

Wales was laboring to lead Uruguay 7-6 at halftime of their Pool D match in Kumamoto.

Wales is trying to top the pool to line up a quarterfinal against France and not England, and struggling to find separation from the Lelos.

Uruguay was putting up great defense right up to and over the offside line, but an almost brand new Wales side from that which overcame Fiji on Wednesday wasn't helping itself with unforced errors.

Wales dropped the ball frequently, and had two tries disallowed for a foot in touch and a forward pass.

Its only try came after sustained pressure inside the Uruguay 22, and after Uruguay conceded five penalties. Prop Nicky Smith burrowed over in the 17th minute after 14 phases and Leigh Halfpenny converted.

Uruguay replied with two Felipe Berchesi penalties to make Wales worried at the break.


4:45 p.m.

Tonga has beaten the United States 31-19 to avoid finishing last in Pool C, helped by a farewell try from retiring captain Siale Piutau.

Piutau scored Tonga's third try with just under 20 minutes to go. Fullback Telusa Veainu skipped in to dive on a chip through after the final gong to seal victory.

U.S. flanker Tony Lamborn's score up against the post with three minutes to go closed the gap to five points and made it interesting. Tonga went back down the other end and Veainu sealed it.

The Tongans leave Japan with a win and avoid a sixth straight loss at Rugby World Cups, which would have been a Tonga record.

The U.S. didn't avoid a 10th straight defeat, which equals its worst run at the Rugby World Cup.

Before kickoff, the U.S. and Tongan players stood in silence with heads bowed in a moment's silence for those affected by Typhoon Hagibis. The powerful typhoon ripped through parts of Japan's eastern Pacific coast on Saturday, bringing damaging winds, torrential rain and flooding, leaving at least 19 people dead and more than a dozen missing.

Tonga should have won by more in Osaka and left at least five tries out there at Hanazono Rugby Stadium, four of them missed in the first half.

They got four tries anyway through loosehead prop Sigfried Fisi'ihoi, centers Malietoa Hingano and Piutau, and fullback Veainu.

The U.S. led 12-7 at halftime through a quick double by replacement back Mike Te'o despite conceding twice as many meters as the Tongans and missing 31 tackles in the first 40.


3:40 p.m.

The United States leads Tonga 12-7 at halftime in Osaka as the Rugby World Cup returns after Typhoon Hagibis.

Replacement back Mike Te'o scored two tries in four minutes for the Americans, who had been 7-0 down.

The players earlier stood in silence with heads bowed in a moment's silence for those affected by Typhoon Hagibis. The powerful typhoon ripped through parts of Japan's eastern Pacific coast on Saturday, leaving at least seven people dead and 15 missing.

Tonga loosehead prop Sigfried Fisi'ihoi rammed his way over for the lead for Tonga in the 17th minute at Hanazono Rugby Stadium.

Tonga should have had another four tries in the first half.

The Tongans wasted two breaks to within a couple of meters of the U.S. line by scrumhalf Sonatane Takulua. Fullback Telusa Veainu ruined a third chance inside the first 13 minutes when his pass went astray with a two-man overlap waiting to score.

Fisi'ihoi missed out on a second when he dropped the ball as he charged for the line just before halftime. U.S. scrumhalf Ruben De Haas was tackling him but he still should have held on.

The U.S. was slow to get going but struck twice in four minutes through Te'o, who was on the field as an injury replacement for captain Blaine Scully.

Teo's first was created by a one-hand offload from No. 8 Cam Dolan. He sped away and went round behind the posts. His second soon after came from a big overlap on the right and an over-the-top pass by fullback Mike Hooley.

Both teams are eliminated from contention at the World Cup and seeking their first win of the tournament.


2:55 p.m.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt says Jordan Larmour's versatility sometimes works against him, but that he is very much in contention for a starting spot in next weekend's quarterfinal against either New Zealand or South Africa.

Larmour started at fullback in the 45-7 win over Samoa in their final Pool A match on Saturday, scoring one try and creating another for flyhalf Jonathan Sexton with a smart pass. His versatility was also on display earlier in the tournament, when he came on in the second half against Japan in a midfield role, and he can also play on the wing.

"Jordan's putting his hand up and that's one thing we really like about him. He puts his hand up no matter where he ends up," Schmidt said. "His flexibility and his enthusiasm ... he's irrepressible. The accuracy of his inside offload to Johnny for the try was top notch."

The only problem is: Where does he play?

Schmidt acknowledges it's a bit of a Catch 22 situation concerning the 22-year-old Larmour, who has 17 test caps.

"He's a youngster who we try to have involved, we're just not sure where sometimes, and sometimes he is a little bit maverick and he wanders around because he's not quite sure which position he's playing in," Schmidt said. "But part of that is probably our fault because we keep swapping him around. But we keep swapping him around because he's so versatile — and because his skill set and enthusiasm allow him to survive wherever we put him."


2:48 p.m.

The Rugby World Cup is underway again after Typhoon Hagibis.

The United States is playing Tonga in Osaka in the first of three games on Sunday to finish the pool stage.

An earlier game between Canada and Namibia was canceled because of the effects of the typhoon in Kamaishi, up north, but the U.S.-Tonga, Wales-Uruguay and Japan-Scotland matches will go ahead after organizers carried out safety inspections on the stadiums and surrounding infrastructure in the morning.

The typhoon left at least seven dead and 15 missing and the U.S. and Tonga teams and crowd at Hanazono Rugby Stadium observed a moment's silence for those affected. Players lined up and bowed their heads and the crowd stood in silence.

Hagibis roared up the eastern coast of Japan and through the Tokyo region on Saturday, unleashing heavy rains and strong winds and causing flooding.

Two games were canceled on Saturday, although one also went ahead: Ireland vs. Samoa in Fukuoka in southwestern Japan, which was unscathed by Typhoon Hagibis.

The U.S. vs. Tonga and Wales vs. Uruguay games aren't decisive for the quarterfinals but Japan vs. Scotland at Yokohama near Tokyo is. The tournament host is seeking to become the first Asian team to make the last eight of a Rugby World Cup.


1:10 p.m.

Ireland center Bundee Aki will have a disciplinary hearing in Tokyo on Monday night and is in danger of missing the rest of the Rugby World Cup after his red card for a dangerous tackle against Samoa.

Players have received three-game bans for similar offenses at this World Cup and that would mean Aki won't play again at the tournament.

The New Zealand-born Aki was red-carded in the first half of Saturday's final Pool A game for the Irish for hitting his shoulder into the head of Samoa flyhalf Ulupano Seuteni in a tackle. Ireland won 47-5 to confirm its place in the quarterfinals.

Aki started three of Ireland's four pool games. The only game he missed was the 19-12 upset by Japan, Ireland's only loss of the pool stage.

Ireland will play either defending champion New Zealand or South Africa in the quarterfinals.


12:45 p.m.

The three Rugby World Cup games going ahead on Sunday will hold a moment's silence for people affected by Typhoon Hagibis.

The powerful typhoon struck Japan on Saturday, causing extensive damage in eastern parts of the country, including the Tokyo region. It left at least seven people dead and 15 missing, authorities say, and caused the cancellation of three World Cup games over the weekend.

World Rugby says there will be a moment's silence at United States-Tonga in Osaka, Wales-Uruguay in Kumamoto, and Japan-Scotland in Yokohama.

The governing body says "the reaction of the rugby family has been incredible with messages of support, solidarity and sympathy across social media."

World Rugby canceled two games scheduled for Saturday ahead of the arrival of Typhoon Hagibis and called off a third game on Sunday morning because of the damage. The Namibia-Canada game in Kamaishi, on the northeastern coast, couldn't go ahead on Sunday because of flooding and landslides near the stadium.

Canada and Namibia were both hoping for a first win of this World Cup in their last game.

Canada coach Kingsley Jones said there was "disappointment, but (we) understand the reasons."

The Kamaishi stadium was built on the site where two schools sat before they were washed away on March 11, 2011, when the town was devastated by a magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 1,000 people.


10:55 a.m.

The Japan-Scotland match is a go.

World Rugby and Rugby World Cup organizers gave the decisive Pool A match the green light after checking Yokohama Stadium and transport infrastructure in the wake of the deadly Typhoon Hagibis.

The game is scheduled for 7:45 p.m. local time.

The winner will advance to the quarterfinals. Japan, which has won all of its three pool matches, can reach the quarterfinals for the first time. A huge local TV audience is expected after live audience records were broken when Japan beat Samoa last weekend.

Scotland has to beat Japan to advance.

"The decision was taken following a comprehensive assessment of the venue and associated infrastructure on Sunday morning in partnership with the host city," World Rugby said in a statement. " World Rugby and the Japan Rugby 2019 organizing committee would like to thank everyone involved for their significant efforts to enable the match to be played as scheduled following one of largest and most powerful typhoons to hit Japan in recent years."

Spectators are warned that catering and merchandise service will be reduced because of limitations on venue staff after the typhoon.


7:30 a.m.

At least two games will go ahead as scheduled on the last day of the group stage after Rugby World Cup organizers gave the all clear for the U.S. vs. Tonga Pool C encounter at Hanazono Stadium in Osaka and Wales vs Uruguay at Kumamoto.

Sunday's first scheduled game between Canada and Namibia at Kamaishi was canceled and organizers are assessing Yokohama International Stadium to determine if the Pool A game between Japan and Scotland can proceed in the wake of a destructive typhoon that hit Japan's main island on Saturday night.

Scotland needs a win to have any chance of reaching the quarterfinals. Japan only needs to avoid defeat to ensure its place in the knockout stage for the first time.


7 a.m.

Organizers say detailed venue inspections at Yokohama and Hanazono stadiums are underway to determine if the Japan-Scotland and United States-Tonga games can go ahead on Sunday in the wake of a destructive typhoon.

The Pool B game between Canada and Namibia was canceled early Sunday because an evacuation order remained in place in the Kamaishi area where the game was set to be played and there had been landslides and flooding in the vicinity of the stadium.

It was the third game to be cancelled at the tournament, following the early decision to call off scheduled games on Saturday between New Zealand and Italy in Toyota and England against France in Yokohama. The cancellations are unprecedented in Rugby World Cup tournaments.

"Our message to fans is to exercise due caution today as the country recovers from the storm and to keep monitoring official Rugby World Cup social and digital channels for further updates," World Rugby said in a statement.

Scotland needs a win over unbeaten Japan to have any chance of reaching the quarterfinals. If the game is canceled, both teams get two competition points and Japan will advance to the knockout stage for the first time. That game is scheduled to kick off at 7:45 p.m. local time.


6:15 a.m.

Rugby World Cup organizers have canceled a third game because of Typhoon Hagibis, deciding early Sunday morning to call off the last of the Pool B games between Canada and Namibia.

World Rugby issued a statement saying an evacuation order remained in place in the Kamaishi area where the game was set to be played and there had been landslides and flooding in the vicinity of the stadium.

Two of Saturday's three scheduled games were canceled well before the destructive typhoon made landfall and organizers will assess conditions in Yokohama before making a decision on Japan's last Pool A game against Scotland later Sunday.

"The safety of all involved in Rugby World Cup 2019 is our primary consideration and fans are advised not to travel to Kamaishi or the venue, which will be closed," World Rugby said.

Defending champion New Zealand's last group-stage game against Italy and the England-France game were the first games ever to be canceled at rugby's showpiece event.

Canceled matches are logged as 0-0 ties, and teams get two competition points each.


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By Associated Press 14 October 2019, 12:00AM

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