Nine-try Wallabies put Japan to the sword
Australia continued with their superb recent form when they secured an impressive 63-30 victory over Japan in Yokohama on Saturday.
As the scoreline suggests, this was a one-sided affair with the Wallabies dominating for large periods and they eventually outscored the Brave Blossoms nine tries to three with Tevita Kuridrani leading the way with a deserved hat-trick.
The Wallabies controlled proceedings from the outset and held a 35-3 lead at half-time courtesy of a brace of tries from Kuridrani and further five-pointers from Samu Kerevi, Henry Speight and Tatafu Polota-Nau.
They continued to dominate in the second half and were rewarded with further tries from Kuridrani, Kerevi, Nick Phipps and Rob Simmons.
Head coach Michael Cheika deserves credit for his decision to play Reece Hodge at fly-half as the 23-year-old impressed as his team’s chief playmaker and finished with an 18-point haul after converting all his side’s tries.
Japan improved as the game progressed and although they scored three tries in the second half, most of their points came during the game’s latter stages when the Wallabies had the game in the bag.
Australia were fastest out of the blocks and Kerevi cantered over for the opening try after Adam Coleman and Polota-Nau laid the groundwork with strong carries in the build-up.
Five minutes later, Speight crossed for his side’s second try before Rikiya Matsuda opened the home side’s account via an 18th minute penalty after Polota-Nau strayed offside on defence.
The burly hooker made up for that indiscretion in the 24th minute, however, when he dotted down off the back of a driving maul and the visitors undrlined their dominance when Kuridrani scored two of his tries towards the end of the half.
Japan made a fine start to the second half when Wimpie van der Walt barged over from close quarters after Amanaki Mafi set him up with a strong run. Matsuda converted and kicked a penalty which meant the Wallabies led 35-13 by the 50th minute.
Kerevi soon crossed for his second try though after impressive work from Hodge, Speight and Kurtley Beale before Matsuda slotted his third penalty in the 55th minute.
Australia continued to attack and Kuridrani crossed for his third try on the hour-mark after gathering an offload from Kerevi. Phipps and Simmons’ tries followed in quick succession and with the result secured, the visitors took their foot off the pedal as the clock wound down.
To their credit, the Brave Blossoms did not surrender and they were rewarded wwhen Mafi and Kazuki Himeno scored tries which added respectabilty to the scoreline.
Tries: Van der Walt, Mafi, Himeno
Cons: Matsuda, Tamura 2
Pens: Matsuda 3
Tries: Kerevi 2, Speight, Polota-Nau, Kuridrani 3, Phipps, Simmons
Cons: Hodge 9
Japan: 15 Kotaro Matsushima, 14 Lomano Lava Lemeki, 13 Timothy Lafaele, 12 Harumichi Tatekawa, 11 Ryuji Noguchi, 10 Rikiya Matsuda, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Shunsuke Nunomaki, 6 Michael Leitch (c), 5 Uwe Helu, 4 Kazuki Himeno, 3 Takuma Asahara, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Keita Inagaki
Replacements: 16 Atsushi Sakate, 17 Koki Yamamoto, 18 Asaeli Ai Valu, 19 Wimpie van der Walt, 20 Fetuani Lautaimi, 21 Yutaka Nagare, 22 Yu Tamura, 23 Sione Teaupa
Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Reece Hodge, 9 Nic Phipps, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Lopeti Timani, 22 Joe Powell, 23 Curtis Rona
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Tim Baker (Hong Kong)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)