Japan smash Tonga 65-15 to claim Pacific Challenge

By Sulamanaia Manaui Faulalo 20 April 2024, 4:10PM

Japan XV defeated Tonga A 65-15 to win the 2024 Pacific Challenge in what has been a dominant display from the start of the tournament by the young Japanese players.

The match was off to a fast start with Japan XV scoring a try within the first two minutes. Kotaro Okawa’s break down the middle through Tonga A’s defence allowed him to pass it out to his winger Yoshitaka Yazaki, who finished the move.

 From there, Tonga A struggled to find their footing, and Japan XV continued to dominate for the first 30 minutes.

Tonga suffered a setback when their hooker Kalisitiane Fiva was injured, but replacement Brandon Televave stepped up to fill the void. 

Despite losing captain Yoshiaki Taian within the 20-minute mark, Japan stayed strong with two tries from left-wing Khaki Ebisawa and one try from inside centre Takaya Mothashi, all before the 30-minute mark. 

The heat was taking its toll on many of the players, but both teams continued to put in equal effort. 

After 30 minutes, Tonga A scored their first try thanks to centre Lamipeti To’osavili Havea, who took advantage of scrum-half Feleti Inoke’s fast tap off the mark. 

However, Tonga A's fly-half Patelesio was unable to convert the try. Tonga A seemed to gain motivation from Havea’s try, and a scrum on  Japan’s  five metre mark allowed Tonga A number eight Joseph Petelo Tongia to go down for a try.

Japan XV led 31-15 at half time.

Tonga A started the second half with a strong defence line from forwards Edward Malcolm Whyte and Joseph Petal Tongia, but it didn't take long for Japan XV to break through.

 In the 53rd minute, a quick tap from replacement forward Mutsuki Urade, followed by another try from Asahi Doei, extended Japan XV's lead.

Despite their best efforts, Tonga A was unsuccessful in scoring any tries in the second half, and Japan XV's last two tries were scored by replacement hooker Kenji Sato, who bowled through Tonga A’s frontline. 

Japan XV came out on top, securing the 2024 Pacific Rugby Challenge title.

By Sulamanaia Manaui Faulalo 20 April 2024, 4:10PM
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