Japan 30-10 Russia: Kotaro Matsushima bags a hat trick as hosts survive early scare to kickstart their campaign with win over Russia
- Russia had taken the lead after five minutes through a Kirill Golosnitsky try
- Japan went into the break with the lead after a Kotaro Matsushima double
- Captain Pieter Labuschagne put Japan in the driver’s seat with a second half try
- The win gives Japan a perfect start to their World Cup campaign on home soil
- Matsushima made it three tries on the night as he broke free to score a third
Japan have got their Rugby World Cup campaign off to a strong start after seeing off Russia in their opening game at the Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo.
The hosts were made to work hard for the victory in front of an expectant crowd in the competition’s debut game, as a fifth minute try from Kirill Golosnitsky surprised Jamie Joseph’s side.
Japan fought their way back into the game to go into the half time break ahead after winger Kotaro Matsushima scored twice to give his team a 12-7 lead.
Kotaro Matsushima scored this World Cup’s first hat trick in Japan’s win over Russia
Japan fought back from an early scare to see off Russia in their Group A game in Tokyo
There was a full house at the Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo ahead of the World Cup opener
A Matsushima double brought Japan back into the game after an early Russian scare
That lead was further extended by three points when they converted from a penalty conceded by Russian centre Dimitry Gerasimov for slowing up the recycling the ball.
Pieter Labuschagne capitalized shortly afterwards after ripping the ball high up the pitch as the Japan captain put his side in the driving seat.
Russia worked hard to fight their way back into the game, having attempted to muscle their way past their counterparts as they tried to open a pathway to the tryline.
However, Lyn Jones’ side quickly learned how much energy that tactic would consume, as the Russians looked exhausted in what were humid conditions in Tokyo.
Pieter Labuschagne is congratulated by his team-mates after giving Japan a comfortable lead
Russia had taken the lead after only five minutes as Kirill Golosnitsky broke through to score
Golosnitsky’s team-mates were in dreamland after taking an unlikely lead against the hosts
The exhaustion of players from both sides will have given an indication to the rest of the competition what to expect when they take to the field in the coming days.
Russia took their points tally to double figures after fly-half Yury Kushnarev converted a penalty in front of goal after Japan were ruled to have been offside.
Jamie Joseph saw glimpses of the fast hands and passing that Japan have developed a reputation for, but the hosts looked error-strewn in their first outing.
Matsushima capped a fine individual performance by scoring his third try of the game when he broke free to give Japan a victory and a bonus point.
The scoreline makes for reading that suggests Japan were comfortable, but in reality they were made to work hard in front of an expectant crowd.