USA Rugby – Japan Live Blog

Chris Wyles
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Chris Wyles
Chris Wyles

RugbyWrapUp is in LA with a live blog of the Pacific Nations Cup match between the USA and Japan. Join us all night for live updates.

0:00 Ready to kick off here, after the Eagles sang a spirited, though somewhat off key, rendition of the national anthem. Suniula will kick, Japan will receive to start the match.

1: Japan goes blind off the kick and tries to run it out of their 22, a brief overlap, then Sau boots it to halfway.

1: Clever handles the lineout, and Manoa moves into the backs to run the ball for the first time. Wyles kicks, under pressure form the Japanese. Brief exchange, poor kick chase from Japan allows the US to regain the ball around halfway.

2: Wyles kicks it out, and the Brave Blossoms have a lineout of their own near midfield

3: Japan tries to get the maul going, take it blind, but winger Fukouka is forced out. US takes a quick lineout and runs well, breaking into the Japanese half for the first time.

4: Petri kicks it away, Japan wins a brief kick exchange, advancing the ball about 20 meters, where they have a lineout after Wyles doesn’t get all of it.

5: Quite the kerfuffle at the lineout, the US feels Japan’s channel is not quite kosher. Garner disagrees, we get on with it, and Japan begins to drive, but they knock on. US plays the advantage, but it isn’t going anywhere.

6: Petri gets a good kick away, the Brave Blossoms forget theyre not the All Blacks and a pass goes terribly astray. End to end tuff, Scully almost scores a magnificent solo try, but knocks on. Good recovery from the US after Japan kicked into the US 22, after a frantic few minutes, it will be a Brave Blossoms lineout at midfield.

7: Garner contines to play long advantages, bu the first full penalty of the game goes to US, as the Japanese tackler did not release.

8: Crowd gets a USA-USA-USA chant going. Not a massive crowd here, but a rowdier one than the corresponding fixture last year against Tonga.

9: US loses the lineout, but things go horribly wrong for Japan. A careless pass leads to a try, picked off by Cam Dolan, and that was just awful on Japan’s part. They look all out of sorts early on here. 5-0 USA leads

10: Automatic conversion for Wyles dead in front of the posts. 7-0 USA leads

11: Japan gathers the kick, but they commit a penalty. US loses the ensuing lineout, which now looks like a real problem area going forward in the match. After a brief passage of play, Japan has their first possession inside the US 22.

12: Japan gets the rolling, its moving horizontally, not verically, but they creep to within five meters, Garner playing advantage, and Tanaka will have to take it out, he does, he goes in untouched for the try. 7-5 USA leads

13: An easy conversion for Japan, we’re all square after thirteen minutes in LA.

14: Japan gathers the restart, sees nothing is on, kicks away. Tim Maupin had a golden opportunity but knocks on. First scrum of the match to Japan.

16: Huge hole opens up, Scully scrambles, but Japan has a massive overlap here and a try is butchered!!!! Just astonishing stuff from wing Kenki Fukuoka. He’ll be on highlight reels for all the wrong reasons for that one. Was in the try zone, and just dropped it, 5 meter scrum to the USA.

17: Eagles scrum under huge pressure, but Dolan gets it away and the Eagles win their third penalty of the match. Might see a warning for not releasing soon here. Wyles kicks it out, finds a good touch, and the US is on the attack. Impossible to say how that drop will impact the match, but it was truly a shocker.

18: Blaine Scully is making the field his playground with huge runs. The US catches a break as a Japanese kick goes into the massive try zone here, the kick chase was good. Poor choice on the 22, the US tried to get clever, and now they’re under pressure. Kick it out, and Japan has the ball at midfield. There’s constant overlaps on the left side, and Japan is trying to exploit them.

19: Trying, and succeeding. Penalty to Japan, Garner is talking to Clever about what might have bordered on a professional foul. Easy kick here for Ayumu Goromar, who did look a little shaky in warmups. Makes no mistake there, and Japan takes the lead. 10-7 Japan leads

22: The US puts pressure on the restart, and a poor clearance from Harumichi Tateka means that the US has a lineout just beyond their 22.

23: Eagles successfully gather the lineout and have a great maul going inside the 22. Trying to get int going again, but Petri will need to bring it out to the backs. Slow ball from the Eagles, but nice job clearing the rucks. Big hits coming it, and Japan’s flanker dives on the ball. Should be a warning, that was clear intent to kill the ruck.

25: Wyles right in front of the posts, can hardly miss from there, and we’re tied again. 10-10, game tied.

26: US gathers the restart, poor clearance, and Japan has an opportunity of their own. Maul doesn’t get going, and the Brave Blossoms will go through the hands. Knock on, advantage played, but it will be a scrum to the Eagles after Petri’s low kick goes off a Japanese boot.

27: Eagles scrum under pressure again, but they manage to collect. Twice tonight, we’ve seen the advantage of the new scrum protocols. There is about a 95 percent chance both of those would have gone down a year ago, and a penalty would have been called.

28: Two sweet inside pases carve the Eagles apart, and they have to scramble inside their 22. Manage to recover, but it’s frantic stuff at the Stubhub Center.

29: Japan, loose with their passing once more, but it works to their advantage. Totally broken play disorganizes the Eagles, and Japan takes it in next to the posts. Winger Akihito Yamada with the score, and it is now 15-10 Japan.

30: Goromar converts, 17-10 Japan.

31: Japan’s backs are looking dangerous, the US’ defense needs to tighten up. getting some sustained possession wouldn’t hurt either. Japan’s clearance charged down, but it comes from an offsides player, so a penalty for the Brave Blossoms, and they will get to clear.

32: Not a great kick, it must be said, but Japan gathers the lineout, and boots it down the field. US has the chance to get something going off the set piece from inside their half.

33: Dolan has been effective gathering tonight, Peri clears. Again, Jpan coming straight through the heart of the US defense, multiple missed tackles. Kock on takes a break for the Eagles, as it goes straight into Wyles’ hands. He plays a fantastic pass to Scully, who scoots down the line for the Eagles’ second try! 17-15, Japan leads.

34: Tough touchline conversion here. The lefty nails it, and once more we are tied. 17-17.

35: Lavalla thought the restart was going straight out and left it, but it bounces inbounds and the Eagles have a lineout inside their own 22. Japan commits and infringement during the ensuing maul, and the Eagles will clear their lines.

36: Acrobatic manuever there from Japan’s wing, Yamada, who gathers what was an ambitious penalty. If Yamata hadn’t reigned it in, the Eagles would have had great field position. After a couple kicks, Japan is once more in the Eagles half as we draw near to the break.

37: LaValla comes up to tackle there, and the Japanese are stuck near halfway, they keep trying to play it though. Kilifi gets a great turnover, Scully scuffs the kick, and Japan clears inside the 22. Wyles boots it deep, Japan starts to counter once more. Fantastic chase by LaValla, but Garner has been a bit generous at the breakdown tonight. Almost knocked on, and this has been a frantic end to the half. Finally put out of bounds near the Eagles ten meter line, and the US has a lineout.

39: A much needed break for both teams, with a minute to go in the half. Not enough can be said about Olive Kilifi’s effort at the breakdown a few minutes ago, it had the potential to turn into something big for the Eagles.

39: Clever has been quiet after a massive game against Scotland, but gathers the lineout here, and the Eagles maul into their own half. Manoa, who has been similarly quiet, gathers the ball at the back of the maul, but knocks on when he goes down. The Eagles feel, perhaps rightly, that the Brave Blossoms made their way through the maul illegally. Time has expired, but we will have one final passage of play.

40: Rock solid scrum from the Japanese, who try to win a penalty, they get the US moving backward, but Garner simply calls for a reset.

40: Looked like a knock on at the edge of the scrum, but Garner missed it. Japan gets the US moving backwards, and are rewarded with a penalty. Long range effort from Goromara to end the half here.

40: Goromara misses, and the teams go into the half tied at 17.

41: Ready to get going in the second half. The US will receive the ball to start things off. After a hard and fast first forty minutes, the benches will be huge late in the match.

41: Manoa holds onto the restart, Petri clears, and Japan has possession at midefield. Another inside ball nearly cuts the US to pieces, I’m sure Eddie Jones emphasized that at the half. Japan works their way into the 22, a kick leads to a Japanese five meter scrum. Huge moment early in the second half.

42: Eagles scrum holds for a moment before moving across the field. Garner giving everybody a VERY long leash. Holani Ryu Kolini picks off the base of the scrum and scores a try. 22-17 Japan leads.

43: Big start to the second half for Japan, not the easiest conversion in the world here for Goromaru. Apologies to him for mispelling his name earlier, the lineup sheet USA rugby handed out had that old Excel problem of cutting off certain letters. Goromaru nails it, 24-17 Japan.

44: The Brave Blossoms running riot here, not the start to the half Mike Tolkein would have wanted. Pause in the action here, Garner will consult the TMO for an unspecified offense, though a Japanese player is down.

45: A little bit of a late hit there, but certainly not a cardable offense, and Garner is satisifed. Eagles lineout in the Japanese half.

46: Thiel makes a mistake, Japan gathers, but there is a bit of a flare up over a late (and uneccesary) Japanese tackle. Poor from the Brave Blossoms, Garner could have easily reversed his call. But, it stands, and the Eagles will be under pressure once more. Japan line out 30 meters from the try line.

46: Japanese experience beginning to tell a little bit here, and the Eagles have not come out strong. Good tackle by Suniula prevents the Japenese lock from breaking through the middle, but the Brave Blossoms assaulting the line, and they have a kock on advantage. Suniula calls his backs out to the left. The US doing a good job of scrambling once more, Manoa blows up a ruck. Another big hit from Manoa, the crowd gets another USA-USA chant going, inspired by the defense. Biggest reaction of the night comes thanks to a knock which ends the play, but Garner was playing advantage. Very kickable here, Japan should take a 10 point lead.

48: Well the US  supporters clearly haven’t’t taken lessons from Twickeham. Huge noise trying to disrupt Goromaru, but he nails the kick. 27-17 Japan.

49: Clever gathers spectacularly well, Wyles knocks on, Japan plays advantage, and they’re on the move once more. Crowd really trying to get into it here. Great kick from Fukuoka means the US has a lineout seven meters from their line, dangerous situation here.

52: La Valla gathers, but lineout not straight. Japan chooses the scrum, and why wouldn’t they? It’s been a huge weapon for them. Lou Stanfill enters the match, trying to inject something new into the Eagles scrum and defense.

53: Japanese try from the scrum, they just push the Eagles back seven meters and dive on it. 32-17 Japan.

54: You always had to figure that Japan would come out on top, but unless the Eagles start to get things under control, this could get very ugly, very fast, after a decent first half. Goromura has another kickable conversion.

55: No mistake made there, the US has to find a way to stop the bleeding.

56: Japan gathers the restart, clearing kick sliced horribly by Gorumara, and this might give the Eagles a platform to attack, if they can take it. Things have been considerably slower paced this half, as might be expected. Clever tosses it off the back of the lienout, Suniula tries to get it wide. US needs to go through the phases for a while, and that’s what they’re doing, but they have lose a considerable amount of territory doing so. Almost back near halfway now. Manoa breaks, the US has momentum, they’re back in the 22. Runners getting badly isolated now, the Eagles need to start supporting their runners. Fortunate not to have turned it over a few times. Longest passage of play yet, and it will be a scrum to Japan after they hold the new prop, Lamositele, up.

59: The US has an entirely new front row, with Coolican entering.

60: New scrum, same result. Another penalty to Japan, they will clear after sustained US pressure.

62: Brave Blossoms into the US half, some nonsense happening at the lineout, Garner puts a stop to it. Lavalla disrupts the lienout, Japan’s center breaks through the line, and the Japanese are inside the US half. Their New Zealand born locks are putting in yeoman’s work tonight. Japan knocks on, the US plays adbantage, and it should be a try! Garner consults the TMO, but the try is awarded to Scully, he has a brace. 34-22 Japan leads.

63: Clever exits, Wyles nails the conversion, and a roar around the stadium. The US trail by 10 with seventeen minutes to go. 34-24 Japan leads.

64: Whatever anyone says about the match (and knowing Eagles fans, they will say a lot), the US has unquestionably showed more attacking intent tonight then they have in at least a year. The turgid match against Togo last year at the same venue was not a great advertisement for rugby. So far, this has been, and the crowd has responded beautifully. In other news, Japan has the ball after the US clears from the restart.

66: Japan gets a penalty, and they will launch an attack from a good position. Goromaru’s boot has had plenty of work tonight, and once more he takes the Brave Blossomst o the edge of the 22.

65: Lineout bobbled, the US clears, but might have had the option to go through the hands. Wyles is safe as houses and sends it away, but the Brave Blossoms take a quick lineout. The Eagles have another overlap and are inside their half. Pulsating stuff. Japan turns the ball over, huge chase, Wyles turns away and clears beautifully. That deserves a round of applause. Japanese player down, a quick breather for both teams.

66: It’s worth noting, particularly with the difficulties faced by players in tough conditions in Brazil this month, that it has been an absolutely perfect night for rugby. Both teams cannot blame the elements for any tiredness. Instead, it’s been a lot of running rugby.

67: Japan mauls, they have front foot ball, but the Eagles have seemed to gain momentum. Japan holds on to the ball, and it will be a penalty to the USA.

68: Time grows short, the US has a lineout, and they desperately need to get this right. LaValla gathers and goes off the top, Suniula loops, and WYlesbreaks. ANOTHER TRY FOR SCULLY! THAT’S THREE! 34-29, Japan leads.

69: A truly special match for Wyles and Scully, who have played together beautifully tonight. Wyles ( and others) have found the right passes, and Scully is developing into a clinical finisher. This is a heck of a match. Touchline conversion to come.

69: Wyles pushes it, and that means the Eagles need another try, rather than a penalty. Still 34-29, Japan leads.

69: The Eagles unquestionably have momentum now, Petri clears, and the Japenese backline is in a a bit of disarray. You can sense that the Eagles believe they have a chance here, they are swarming to the breakdown. That does come with danger, and Japan breaks into their half when a space opened wide in the middle. It would be a shame if the Eagles were undone now.

70: LaValla has put in a massive shift tonight, he’s everywhere. The Eagles begin to push Japan back, and they have held their shape after a nervous moment or two.

71: Japan has a kickable penalty. This could put the game away. Coolican has had trouble getting out of rucks and he is finally punished for it by Garner.

72: Right in front of the posts. You can bet the Eagles crowd is trying their best to distract Goromura.

72: It doesn’t work, he nails it, and that might be the nail in the Eagles coffin. 37-29 Japan leads.

73: Japan gets a rolling maul going off the restart, the US has to be careful. Right down the throatof the US backline, Japan knocks the up and under.

75: Scrums take a while, and the US has no time to spare. They need something quickly. A penalty from this range probably won’t do it, and their scrum has been under pressure all night long. Wyles gets the ball, the Eagles do have a penalty. Poor choice by Petri, as he once more kicks it away in hope rather than expectation.

76: US wastes valuable time talking about their decision, but Wyles goes for the corner eventually. Huge moments, huge drama at the Stubhub Center.

78: US maintains possession off the lineout, but knocks on, and that might be the last, best chance gone for the Eagles.

79: Japan wins a penalty, looks like that will do it. A brave effort from the Eagles, but it is not enough, as they fall to Japan by a final score of 37-29. The scrum and a sloppy beginning to the second half undid the US, but a brave effort when all looked like it was going wrong at the fifty minute mark. Some positives to take away, especially the new attacking intent demonstrated. Some negatives as well. The long established issues with the scrum have been a thorn in the Eagles side for a long time, and ill discipline cost the team. Japan just had the extra know-how, and that will be all from the Stubhub Center.

About Nicholas Hall 143 Articles
Nick is a senior rugby player at Wheaton College in MA, which is in the Colonial Coast Conference. After being in the slightly less physical "sport" of speech and debate in high school, Nick began playing rugby sophomore year at Wheaton. In addition to writing for, Nick writes for the Wheaton Wire - the campus paper.