MX23RW : Saturday, September 25 00:37:20| >> :120:24529:24529:
Oct 11, 2015 at 8pm UK at Kingsholm
Ngwenya (25'), Wyles (72')
Matsushima (7'), Fujita (28'), Mafi (62')

Live Commentary: USA 18-28 Japan - as it happened

Take a look back at the final game of the pool stage with Sports Mole's text coverage of Japan's World Cup triumph over USA.

Japan finished an impressive World Cup campaign with a victory as they beat Pool B rivals USA 28-18 at Kingsholm Stadium in Gloucester.

Tries from Kotaro Matsushima, Yoshikazu Fujita and Amanaki Mafi, as well as 13 points from Ayumu Goromaru secured the win as Japan were forced to hold off a resilient USA side, who crossed over with scores from Takudzwa Ngwenya and Chris Wyles.

Japan settle for third spot in Pool B, and become the first side to win three games and exit the tournament at this stage, while USA head home with four defeats to their name.

Read below to find out how the drama unfolded.

Good evening everyone! The pool stage of the World Cup comes to an end at Kingsholm Stadium as everyone's new favourite side, Japan, take on USA. A Scotland win over Samoa yesterday dashed Japan's hopes of reaching the last eight, but they go for a third Pool B victory against the winless Americans tonight.

Japan's performances have arguably been the story of the tournament so far. The victory over Japan will never be forgotten, and there is certainly plenty of excitement surrounding this side as they prepare to host the 2019 World Cup. Three wins from four pool games would be fantastic return for Eddie Jones and his players.

USA's form means that they will once again have to go through qualifying to reach the next tournament. Battling displays in defeat to Scotland and Samoa were promising, but they were outclassed in a 64-0 loss to South Africa in their last outing. They are once again underdogs tonight, but can they sign off in style?

Our man Dan Lewis is in place for tonight's game. Here are his pre-match thoughts.

"So after three weeks of much entertainment and excitement, the 2015 Rugby World Cup's pool phase comes to a close in Gloucester this evening. While there may be little riding on the game in terms of the final positions of these two sides, both will be desperate to end on a positive.

Japan in particular will be keen to make it three wins from four, with the next instalment of this competition due to be held in their Far East homeland."

Could Eddie Jones be heading to Twickenham? The temptation to lead a team in a home World Cup must be great, but he leaves the job tonight and if reports are to be believed, he is one of the contenders to possibly replace England coach Stuart Lancaster, who could be out of a job very soon. He has shown at this tournament just how capable he is at the highest level.

It might not be the biggest, but Kingsholm Stadium is a classic rugby venue!

Here are the two sides for tonight's game.

USA: Chris Wyles (capt); Takudzwa Ngwenya, Seamus Kelly, Thretton Palamo, Zach Test, AJ MacGinty, Mike Petri; Eric Fry, Zach Fenoglio, Titi Lamositele, Hayden Smith, Greg Peterson, Al McFarland, Andrew Durutalo, Samu Manoa.
Replacements: Phil Thiel, Oli Kilifi, Chris Baumann, Cam Dolan, John Quill, Danny Barrett, Niku Kruger, Folau Niua

JAPAN: Ayumu Goromaru; Yoshikazu Fujita, Harumichi Tatekawa, Craig Wing, Kotaro Matsushima, Kosei Ono, Fumiaki Tanaka; Keita Inagaki, Shota Horie, Hiroshi Yamashita, Luke Thompson, Justin Ives, Michael Leitch (capt), Michael Broadhurst, Ryu Koliniasi Holani.
Replacements: Takeshi Kizu, Masataka Mikami, Kensuke Hatakeyama, Shinya Makabe, Amanaki Lelei Mafi, Hendrik Tui, Atsushi Hiwasa, Karne Hesketh

More from Dan, who is in position in Gloucester.

"We could witness some history this evening at the Kingsholm, too, as Japan may become the first side to ever win three fixtures in the pool phase but still exit the competition. They have won many admirers both in the UK and back home, and they are backed by a fantastic army of supporters once more this evening."

Here we go then. The two sides are out on the pitch now. Just a few handshakes and the national anthems before the rugby takes centre stage on the final night of the pool stage.

AJ MacGinty gets the game underway for USA and a drop Japan's Luke Thompson gives away an early scrum.

A forward pass from USA allows Japan to get the ball further up the pitch, and the Americans get away with a questionable lineout as they provide all of the early pressure.

PENALTY! USA 3-0 SCOTLAND: Confident start from MacGinty, who gets the first points on the board with a long penalty after Japan are penalised for not rolling away from the tackle.

TRY! USA 3-7 JAPAN (MATSUSHIMA): Superb rugby from Japan! Yoshikazu Fujita starts the move with a fantastic break and low kick, and Japan recycle the ball well after being held up. The ball is moved across the line quickly and it's Kotaro Matsushima who crosses over on the left wing. Ayumu Goromaru does the rest with the conversion.

Superb noise coming from the crowd. As you can imagine, the chants of "USA, USA, USA!" are pretty frequent. Japan have been awoken by that try and they are showing patience with the pass once again.

Japan are putting the pressure on USA, who are being forced to make tackle after tackle as a scrum goes to the leading side. Jones will be enjoying what he is seeing now as his team continue to make up more ground.

Excellent from USA as they survive a long spell of pressure and turn it over as Andrew Durutalo steals the ball at the breakdown. Impressive rearguard effort on show there.

Mr Lews has his say on the early stages of what could be an exciting encounter.

"It had been a positive enough start to the contest from the US, but how about that reply from Japan? The attack epitomises exactly what the Brave Blossoms are all about, recycling possession and getting themselves over the line. Brilliant rugby."

Fumiaki Tanaka pulls the ball away from a ruck and puts the kick in a good spot for Fujita to get his legs going, but a couple of unfortunate bounces sends the ball out of play.

Good thinking from MacGinty with two players out wide, but his high kick is not collected by a teammate. He knew the advantage was with USA, though, and he kicks for touch to take the lineout.

Japan recover once again as a foolish short lineout ends with USA knocking on, and the pressure is slowly relieved. Some of the tackling from Japan has been fantastic, with Ryu Holani standing out in the first half.

TRY! USA 8-7 JAPAN (NGWENYA): We could have a very good game on our hands in Gloucester. Patience is the key for USA, who slow down the tempo and go through the phases close to the line. Japan hold on for as long as possible, but USA then shift the ball wide and a long pass from Wyles creeps to Takudzwa Ngwenya, who holds his width on the right to complete the 20th phase by crossing over. MacGinty is unable to add the conversion.

TRY! USA 8-14 JAPAN (FUJITA): Oh dear. It all goes wrong for USA moments after they were celebrating. They fail to regain possession from the restart and after a dance in midfield from Matsushima in midfield, Japan drive up the field with some brutal play from their forwards. In truth, the USA's defence is not good enough and it's young wing Yoshikazu Fujita eventually spots the gap to dive over the line. Goromaru converts.

Japan appear to be clicking through the gears then. It's certainly not been a polished display from either side, with strange decision making and individual mistakes affecting the rhythm at times, but that is not having an impact on the excitement at Kingsholm Stadium.

PENALTY! USA 8-17 JAPAN: Goromaru channels his inner Jonny Wilkinson with his pre-penalty routine once again, before splitting the posts with the effort to give Japan a nine-point cushion.

Plenty to like about this Japan side, but they turn the ball over sloppily to invite pressure, and their eagerness to run the ball out close to their own line rather than kick ends with Tatekawa being brought down as the scrum goes to USA.

Better from Japan. USA come out of the scrum, but they seem to get their lines wrong either side of the ball and the decision out of the ruck goes against them.


Well, if anyone thought this game would be flat, they have been proved wrong. Japan continue to excite, while USA have played some good rugby either side of spells filled with individual mistakes. It could be tough for them to come back, but the Americans should take confidence from the fact that Japan have also made some questionable decisions at times.

Our very own Dan Lewis is at Kingsholm Stadium tonight. Read his half-time report now as we prepare for the final 40 minutes of the pool stage.

Kotaro Matsushima of Japan is held back during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool B match between USA and Japan at Kingsholm Stadium on October 11, 2015 in Gloucester, United Kingdom.© Getty Images

More from Dan as Japan push for victory in Gloucester.

"A decent enough opening 40 minutes of rugby, then, which threatened to truly burst into life without actually doing so. Plenty to look forward to in the second half as both sides inevitably look to go out with a bang. Japan are on the brink of becoming the first side to win three of their pool fixtures but still crash out - bittersweet indeed!"

The players are heading back out for the second half. Can USA produce the comeback they need to avoid a fourth successive Pool B defeat?

Kensuke Hatakeyama and Amanaki Mafi are on as Japan start the second half in control of the ball. Yamashita and the impressive Holani are the players who have left the field.

PENALTY! USA 8-20 JAPAN: Goromaru takes his tally to four successes from four kicks with a penalty to tighten Japan's grip on this game.

USA stay strong in the tackle to hold up another Japan charge, and a whistle for holding results in the penalty being handed to the Americans, who kick for touch as they look for a response.

Fantastic defensive rugby. Japan halt the Americans when they attempt to drive forward out of the lineout, before a knock-on from Thretton Palamo when the ball is moved wide allows the leading team to relieve the pressure.

Matsushima needs a head injury assessment after a big hit and it's Karne Hesketh, the scorer of that famous try in the win over South Africa, who comes on as USA look to push their opponents back with some quicker ball movement.

Dan Lewis sums it up nicely. Plenty of possession for USA, but they do not seem to have a plan to break down Japan regularly.

"The United States seemingly struggling for ideas at the moment and failing to truly ask questions of their opponents. This is a good spell, though, and one that they really need to be making the most of if they are to pick up their first point."

PENALTY! USA 11-20 JAPAN: USA take the chance to add three points to their tally when Hatekayama is punished for not releasing. MacGinty splits the posts. They will need much more, but Japan do not have the momentum at the moment.

Good news for Japan as Matsushima proves his fitness in the backroom to come back out for Hesketh, who could be used later in the game. USA coping much better with their defensive line, which is forcing Japan to come up with different ideas.

What a tackle! Ngwenya is one of the quickest around and he looks destined to sprint clear on the right before being halted by Mafi, who does enough to bring him down at the thigh.

YELLOW CARD! Eric Fry catches the attention of the referee when he decides to kick the ball away as Tanaka prepared to go out wide from the ruck. That will earn you 10 minutes in the sin-bin.

TRY! USA 11-25 JAPAN (MAFI): You would have to say Japan are probably going to get home comfortably now. There's cheers when Japan decide to kick for touch after winning a penalty, and they are immediately rewarded. They drive forward with the maul before Mafi peels off to charge past a couple of men on his way over. Goromaru misses for the first time from close to the left touchline.

Changes are coming regularly now. Japan are starting to look dominant again. This USA side simply lacks creativity, and they have not made enough of their spells in Japanese territory. Another score for the leading side could be on the way as they begin another charge forward.

Japan make a couple of breaks to penetrate the American line, but the ball is turned over and Wyles kicks it away to earn a breather for his teammates. Around 12 minutes remaining in Gloucester.

Kelly does well at the breakout to win the ball back for USA once again. Palamo holds off a couple of challenges to carry his side forward, before replacement Danny Barrett drives them even further on. The advantage is with them and they start again after the move collapses.

More from Dan Lewis at Kingsholm Stadium.

"Things have turned massively in Japan's favour over the past 10 minutes or so, which gives the impression that this one is as good as over. But this is now a chance for the Brave Blossoms to showcase their talents once more on this world stage over the concluding minutes. They will be a big loss to this tournament."

TRY! USA 18-25 JAPAN (WYLES): Best piece of American rugby this evening, and they are back in it now. It all starts with Barrett's charge forward with that excellent carry. USA are less than a meter from the line, but MacGinty shows good awareness to take players out of the game with a long pass to Wyles, who eases over. MacGinty adds the conversion to ensure his side remain in this game.

PENALTY! USA 18-28 JAPAN: Just a few minutes after being handed a boost in their bid for a dramatic finish, USA are dealt a blow as Japan move 10 points ahead. Leitch is the man penalised for coming in at the side in the ruck. Goromaru holds his nerve with a long-range penalty which should clinch the win.

USA are looking to finish well, but Japan are refusing to make it easy. Matsushima and Mafi both bring gasps from the crowd with a couple of huge tackles to halt the American charge in the middle of the pitch.

USA win a penalty in the final minute and begin another move forward, but the ball is turned over once again as Japan fight back. Superb defence on show from a side heading for their third win.


A remarkable World Cup campaign comes to an end for Japan, who started the tournament by shocking South Africa and the world. They are the first side to win three games and exit at the pool stage. It has been a fantastic effort and they fully deserve the win.

For USA, it's a fourth successive Pool B campaign. The big feeling will be disappointment, but there have been flashes which suggest that there is more to come from this side in the future.

That's all from our live coverage. Thank you for following the game with Sports Mole and make sure you enjoy the quarter-finals with us next weekend. Goodnight everyone!

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Stuart Hogg of Scotland during the Rugby World Cup game with Japan on September 23, 2015
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