Wales edge Asian champions Japan

Inexperienced Wales side secures narrow 22-18 victory against Japan in their first Test as All Blacks beat France.

The young Wales side were outscored two tries to one but clawed their way back as Asian champions Japan paid the price for missing three kicks [AFP]
The young Wales side were outscored two tries to one but clawed their way back as Asian champions Japan paid the price for missing three kicks [AFP]

A second-string Wales team twice came from behind to beat Asian champions Japan 22-18 in the opener of their two-Test series on Saturday.

It was Japan’s 12th straight defeat to Wales, including three losses in World Cup matches, since their first encounter in 1973.

“I’m hugely proud,” said Wales coach Robin McBryde.

“We didn’t deal well with the (hot) conditions in the first half, but showed really good character to come through,” he said.

Early lead

Full-back Ayumu Goromaru gave Japan a 6-0 lead with two penalties but Welsh stand-off Dan Biggar pulled two penalties back, one with a long shot from near the centre line, to level at 6-6.

Full-back Liam Williams saved a try, but the Japanese threatened the Welsh side several times and finally scored to take a 11-6 lead again shortly before the break.

Japan won a line-out close to the Welsh goal line, allowing right-flanker Michael Broadhurst to touch down near the right corner in the 38th minute, too far out for Goromaru to convert.

Goromaru missed two penalty shots while Biggar scored one penalty to trail Japan 9-11 at the beginning of the second half.

Wales encamped in the Japanese field for most of the second half, playing close to the Japanese try line and took the lead for the first time when Biggar added another penalty in the 59th minute.

The visitors stretched their lead when right-winger Harry Robinson completed a fluent passing play to score a converted try on the right field in the 63rd minute.

Right-winger Yoshikazu Fujita kept Japanese hopes alive with a try in the 69th minute and Goromaru capitalised to close the gap to 18-19.

But a Japanese high tackle gave Wales another penalty chance, which substitute Rhys Patchell cashed in on in the 78th minute to complete the scoring.

“I’m very disappointed with the game. We could have won. But I’m very proud of my players,” Japan coach Eddie Jones said.

The two teams will play each other again next week at the Prince Chichibu stadium in Tokyo.

Wales’ best players and their head coach Warren Gatland are touring Australia with the British and Irish Lions.

New Zealand win

The All Blacks stretched their Eden Park winning streak to 30 in 19 years on Saturday when they beat France 23-13 in an untidy encounter.

They scored two tries to one in the All Blacks’ first clash against France since their 8-7 victory in the World Cup final at the same ground two years ago.

France, the last team to beat the All Blacks at Eden Park in 1994, signalled an intent to repeat that triumph when Wesley Fofana scored the opening try after Florian Fritz had waltzed past Ma’a Nonu.

But in front of a full house of 46,000, the All Blacks came back to turn the game with two tries in five minutes late in the half for a 17-10 lead.

The second half saw just two All Blacks penalties and one to France, with both sides committing basic errors.

In a game that never reached great heights, multiple mistakes led to frequent turnovers and tries went begging at both ends of the field in the second spell.

“Obviously we’re not happy with the performance,” All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said.

“We know it was ugly at times but we also know it was the first game of the season.

“There’s a lot of us working on new things and when you’re doing that you’re going to create mistakes.”

Source: AFP

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