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By ARU Media Unit
The U20’s championship being held at Bond University on the Gold Coast saw Samoa come from behind to claim the match and ensure they claim 3rd place in the tournament.
Samoa will play Australia in the World Rugby U20 Championship in Italy in June.
A disciplined Japan started the match as well as they capitalised on a mistake by Samoa from the kick off to remain deep with the Samoan defensive zone.
Ryuji Noguci took advantage of Japan’s territorial advantage when Samoa were penalised for offside and gave Japan a 0-3 lead.
Samoa were unable to maintain possession as Japan’s forwards allowed for clean ball for the backs.
As Japan maintained early pressure, number eight Tevita Malaefoou Tatafu dived over from the base of the ruck to score the first try of the match.
The successful conversion took the score to 0-10.
Samoa were finally able to gain some possession and pressure the Japanese as Josh Ioane converted a penalty to register Samoa’s first points, bringing the score to 3-10.
Japan continued to dominate their Pacific rivals with the Japanese forwards holding out their larger opposing pack.
An offside infringement by Samoa allowed Ryuji Noguci to increase Japan’s lead to 3-13.
Hirofumi Higashikawa scored what could have been the try of the tournament when flyhalf Taisetsu Kanai placed a well-timed grubber kick in behind the Samoan defence allowing Higashikawa to regather and burn the Samoan defence to score.
A rare missed conversion left the score at 3-18.
A determined Samoa, frustrated by their errors used their larger forward pack to smash their way through the dedicated Japanese defence, scoring a try on the cusp of half time to bring the scores closer to 8-18.
Japan registered the first points of the second half as the Japanese backs moved the ball quickly to expose Samoa outside. Hooker Kosuke Horikoshi was the last to touch the ball as ran into untouched to score in the corner taking the score to 8-23.
Japan’s pressure continued to mount on the tiring Samoan defence as Japan opted for a lineout from a penalty. Samoa’s forwards couldn’t hold out the organised Japanese defence as Tevita Malaefoou Tatafu crossed for his second try.
The successful conversion by Noguci brought the score to 8-30.
An inspired effort from Samoan captain, Josh Dowsing rallied his Samoan side as the young forward used his physicality at the breakdown to force Japan into errors.
A try followed shortly after Samoa lifted their urgency and tempo in attack allowing number eight Jordan Jacket to cross over for the try.
Malu Falaniko converted the try to give Samoa some hope of chasing down Japan with the score at 15-30.
Josh Ioane returned to his kicking roll minutes later for Samoa as the young Pacific team kept the score ticking over with a penalty from 30 metres out taking the score to 18-30.
With a wet sail behind them Samoa found the form they were searching for in the first half as Malu Falaniko and Ben Tuiomanufili crossed for consecutive tries to level the scores at 30-30.
The frenetic pace of the match increased as both teams searched for a way through in order to win the game.
With two minutes to go Samoa edged in front 33-30 with a successful conversion by Malu Falaniko which brought the Samoan fans to their feet.
When the final whistle sound the Samoans erupted having registered their first win of the tournament.