September 20, 2019
Japan see off tiring Russia after early shock for World Cup hosts• Matsushima hat-trick seals victory after very shaky start
Japan overcome dogged Russia to win opening Rugby World Cup match
The first Rugby World Cup ever to be staged in Asia is under way and the host nation have duly delivered the result the tournament organisers needed. First impressions are considered very important in Japanese culture and, while their overall performance was not exactly a technicolour dream for their coach Jamie Joseph, the Brave Blossoms’ bonus-point victory will have focused a few minds among their fellow Pool A occupants Ireland and Scotland.
There is still a fair way to go before Joseph realises his goal of steering Japan into the World Cup knockout stages for the first time but there were enough positive signs to enthuse a stadium almost entirely populated with excited red-and-white clad supporters. Right-winger Kotaro Matsushima claimed three of his side’s four tries to earn himself the honour of scoring the first hat-trick by any Japanese player at a World Cup.
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