Wal­la­bies open tour with Ja­pan romp


THE Wal­la­bies have their spring tour off to a flyer with a 63-30 romp over Ja­pan in their test at Yoko­hama.

Play­ing at the venue which will host the 2019 Rugby World Cup fi­nal and their first match against Ja­pan on home soil, Aus­tralia hit the ground run­ning.

With reg­u­lar play­maker Bernard Fo­ley out sick, Reece Hodge made his test de­but at first fiveeighth yes­ter­day and didn’t miss a beat.

The 23-year-old, who has played all of his Wal­la­bies’ tests this year on the wing, had a hand in many of their nine tries, feed­ing a back­line hun­gry for points, while he was on tar­get with all con­ver­sions.

The vis­i­tors led 35-3 at half­time, with cen­tre Te­vita Kuridrani col­lect­ing two of his tre­ble for the match. Star full­back Kurt­ley Beale and winger Marika Koroi­bete were in the thick of the ac­tion.

The 40,000-strong crowd came alive early in the sec­ond half when South African-born lock Wimpie van der Walt scored on de­but, with a penalty goal soon af­ter by Rikiya Mat­suda boost­ing their tally by 10.

But af­ter some strong lead-up work by Henry Speight, Samu Kerevi gal­loped away for his sec­ond try of the day to stall Ja­pan’s mo­men­tum.

Aus­tralia’s for­wards de­served credit for the try-scor­ing spree, with hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, flanker Sean McMa­hon and tryscor­ing lock Rob Sim­mons among their best.

Ja­pan’s rookie lock Ki­azuki Hi­meno scored at full­time, while their Melbourne Rebel back­rower Amanaki Mafi, who last month was named Aus­tralia’s Su­per Rugby player of the year, was also re­warded with a late try.

The mar­gin meant the Wal­la­bies were able to empty their bench, giv­ing lock Matt Philip his de­but, and their starters some ex­tra rest be­fore tak­ing on Wales next Sun­day fol­lowed by tests against Eng­land and Scot­land. - AAP

Samu Kerevi launches him­self at the try­line for the Wal­la­bies in Yoko­hama yes­ter­day.

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