Rude wel­come for Joseph as Pu­mas maul Ja­pan

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Ar­gentina spoiled Jamie Joseph’s first game as head coach of Ja­pan by crush­ing the Brave Blos­soms 54-20 in swash­buck­ling style yes­ter­day.

The ma­raud­ing Pu­mas bared their claws against a new-look Ja­pan side, dom­i­nat­ing in all ar­eas with fly-half Ni­co­las Sanchez or­ches­trat­ing a com­fort­able vic­tory in the Tokyo sun­shine.

Sanchez scored 29 points, boot­ing 19 points and adding a pair of tries, while Ma­tias Moroni and San­ti­ago Cordero also touched down twice as Ar­gentina showed glimpses of the form that swept them to the semi-fi­nals of last year’s World Cup. A late try from sub­sti­tute To­mas Cubelli brought up Ar­gentina’s half-cen­tury and will give New Zealan­der Joseph plenty to pon­der be­fore three fly-away tests in Europe.

“Ar­gentina have played New Zealand, South Africa and Aus­tralia twice each-we’ve had one scrum ses­sion,” Joseph told re­porters. “At the start we had plenty of en­ergy, put pres­sure on Ar­gentina and cre­ated a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties,” he added. “And with the game gone in the last 20 min­utes we saw the at­ti­tude of a team that never wants to give in.” Ja­pan, who them­selves lit up the World Cup by fa­mously win­ning three matches un­der Ed­die Jones, be­gan brightly as Yu Ya­mada’s early penalty opened the scor­ing. But from then on it was one-way traf­fic.

Moroni raced down the right wing to score and Ar­gentina be­gan to turn the screw af­ter Sanchez col­lected a pass from scrumhalf Martin Lan­dajo to score, be­fore his trusty right boot forged a 21-6 half­time lead for the vis­i­tors. The flood­gates opened when Cordero touched down in the cor­ner mo­ments af­ter the restart and Moroni fin­ished off a slick break­away move af­ter 49 min­utes. Amanaki Mafi bull­dozed over for Ja­pan soon af­ter, but Sanchez capped a breath­tak­ing team try for Ar­gentina be­fore Cordero scored again and Cubelli com­pleted the rout. “It was a tough game,” Lan­dajo said diplo­mat­i­cally. “Ja­pan are a good at­tack­ing side and are hard to de­fend. But we in the sec­ond half we got some op­por­tu­ni­ties and took them.” A late con­so­la­tion from Lo­mano Le­meki did lit­tle to pa­per over the cracks for Ja­pan, whose mo­men­tum has stalled woe­fully since the World Cup. The Ja­panese look a shadow of the team which pro­duced the big­gest shock in the tour­na­ment’s his­tory by stun­ning mighty South Africa 34-32 and then top­pling Samoa and the United States.

Asia’s top side, who lost a pair of home tests against Scot­land ear­lier this year, face Ge­or­gia in Tbil­isi next week and then Wales and France away later this month. — AFP

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