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.