Saturday, July 9, 2011


Japan v Tonga in Suva (Pacific Nations Cup)

Venue: National Stadium


Tonga’s rugby standing is very high after they took apart hosts Fiji in last weekend’s opening Pacific Nations Cup round. This performance will sound alarm bells throughout a Japanese team that were humbled by Samoa in Tokyo. It is going to be a big hurdle for the Japanese to bounce back. But bounce back they must if John Kirwan’s side has any chance of winning the Cup. Also, the Rugby World Cup finals are just around the corner and the Japanese will need to significantly lift their game if they are to have any impact on the world stage come September-October when they face Tonga again in Pool A.

Japan’s head coach John Kirwan has made a number of changes from last week’s side. ‘The pack shows two changes with Justin Ives replacing Toshizumi Kitagawa and Michael Leitch in for Tadasuke Nishihara.Ives came off the bench last week, while Leitch was a late withdrawal. However, the Toshiba Brave Lupus flanker has recovered from an ankle injury and is back on the flank alongside captain Takashi Kikutani and Ryu Koliniasi Holani. Ives with partner Luke Thompson in the second row and the pair will pack down behind Hisateru Hiroshima, Yusuke Aoki and Kensuke Hatakeyama.

In the backs, there are recalls from injury for James Arlidge, Hirotoki Onozawa and Koji Taira. Arlidge takes over the No. 10 jersey from Shaun Webb, who switches to fullback, Onozawa replaces Takehisa Usuzuki, while Taira returns to partner Ryan Nicholas in the centres in place of Yuta Imamura.
Kosuke Endo and Fumiaki Tanaka keep their places at wing and scrumhalf, respectively.’

Last Five Encounters
26.06.2010 Japan 26-23 in Apia (Pacific Nations Cup)
27.06.2009 Japan 21-19 in Lautoka (Pacific Nations Cup)
16.06.2008 Japan 35-13 in Sendai (Pacific Nations Cup)
02.06.2007 Japan 20-17 in Coff’s Harbour (Pacific Nations Cup)
04.06.2006 Tonga 57-16 in Fukuoka (Pacific Five Nations)

It’s been five years since Tonga defeated Japan.

GWC Rugby Rankings
World Table-Tonga 11th, Japan 14th

IRB Ranking Points
Tonga 71.63, Japan 69.89

Prediction: Tonga by 8 points

10[1]  20[1]

Team lineups  at

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