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Japan again dashes Manu Samoa World Cup hopes

29 September 2023: Manu Samoa’s World Cup hopes are over after a disappointing error-ridden and ill-disciplined performance against Japan in their do-or-die Pool D encounter at Stadium de Toulouse at 800 this morning Samoa time.

Down 17-8 at halftime and clinging on to a glimmer of hope after Seilala Lam’s try just before the break, Manu Samoa were not able to exploit their advantage with Japan down to 14 men and got into further trouble when wing Ben Lam was given a yellow card for a high tackle, and Japan scored their third try from the resulting play. The card was later upgraded to a red card and it was all downhill from there.

A spirited performance with 14 men in the second half resulted in late tries to Duncan Paia’aua and Christian Lealiifano. But it was too late in the end.

Japan were clinical and in control and their ruck speed caused havoc with their well organised defence, not committing too many into the rucks, their tackling was efficient and they won many turnovers from the breakdown.

It was the third consecutive time Japan had beaten Manu Samoa at the World Cup.

Manu Samoa fans
Manu Samoa fans

Manu Samoa fans cheering on a late spirited effort with 14 men.

A disruptive start to the game with captain Chris Vui withdrawing with injury forcing coach Vaovasamanaia Seilala Mapusua to change his starting XV with Steven Luatua coming on at lock and Fritz Lee assuming the captaincy. Further disruption hit the team when Taleni Seu came off only a few minutes after the opening whistle with a leg injury which led to Theo McFarland moving to blindside flanker and Brian Alainuuese coming on at lock.

Samoa’s last pool game is against Pool D leader, England in Lille next weekend.

FULLTIME: Manu Samoa 22-28 Japan (HT: 8-17)
Tries: Seilala Lam 37′, Duncan Paia’aua 65′, Christian Lealiifano 78′
Conversions: Christian Lealiifano 2
Penalties: D’Angelo Leuila
Yellow Card: Jonathan Taumateine
Red Card: Ben Lam