Rugby | Japan secure bonus-point win over Russia
3 - Kotaro Matsushima is the first player to score a hat-trick for Japan in a @rugbyworldcup match; overall he now has 4 RWC tries for Japan, the joint most for the nation (also Eiji Kutsuki). Blossoming. #RWC2019 pic.twitter.com/MyBHGIlrdx — OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) September 20, 2019 He burst past Russia captain Vasily Artemyev to score his second try after being picked out by Ryoto Nakamura. Tamura converted his kick to make it 12-7 at the break, and added a penalty early in the second half to extend Japan's lead to eight points. Pieter Labuschagne then crossed the whitewash for Japan's third try in the 46th minute as Russia began to visibly tire. Labuschagne dispossessed Andrei Ostrikov before sprinting 35 yards with the ball, eluding the Russian players on his heels to add another five points to Japan's tally. Iurii Kushnarev converted a penalty for Russia 20 minutes from time, before Tamura responded in kind three minutes later. Matsushima completed his remarkable hat-trick in the 68th minute, catching Artemyev's mishit clearing kick to secure a bonus point for the hosts, becoming the first Japan player to score three tries in a World Cup match. Rikiya Matsuda converted to make it 30-10, and the hosts ran out as comfortable winners.
48 - @JRFURugby beat 48 defenders against Russia, their most in a @rugbyworldcup match and the 13th time any side has beaten as many in a match in the tournament's history. Elusive. pic.twitter.com/10igNKM6MS — OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) September 20, 2019 It's the strong start the hosts needed, and they will be intent on making it out of the group stages this time around following the disappointment of becoming the first team in Rugby World Cup history to win all three pool matches and still fail to progress in 2015. "With what we did in 2015, the memory is still strong with the Japanese public," Japan captain Michael Leitch told BBC Radio 5 Live after the game. "To have a World Cup on home soil is a great opportunity to inspire the public. We will have another full ground next week and we need to take these opportunities to show Japan that we can play." Next up for Japan is a clash against Ireland, who face Scotland on Sunday, while Russia will take on Samoa in their second match.