The World Cup hosts turned on the style in their November Tests against England


Japan entertain in loss to England at Twickenham

AFTER ENGLAND’S narrow loss to New Zealand last week, head coach Eddie Jones said Japan needed to “go to the temple and pray” ahead of their clash at Twickenham. England would win the contest 35-15 but they didn’t have everything their own way, with an entertaining Japan leading 15-10 at half-time.

Whether or not divine intervention had anything to do with Japan giving England a run for their money in the first half, they certainly turned on the style at Twickenham.

It was all summed up by Japan captain Michael Leitch bursting through for a scintillating score, evading four defenders, turning full-back Elliot Daly inside-out in the process, after half an hour. However, they were at it all game.

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It all began to look exciting when Japan decided to go wide from their own 22 several times in the first 20 minutes. Passes were going through legs and twice it went wide to winger Kenki Fukuoka from kick-offs. In the opening quarter, Leitch was popping up out wide as the Japanese backline kept ball alive with offloads and pops.

Japan entertain in loss to England at Twickenham

Round the back: wing Akihito Yamada throws an audacious offload

As England continued to infringe – hooker Jamie George was yellow carded 19 minutes in – Japan opted to kick for the corner or take a scrum instead of taking points. This paid off in the 21st minute when, from a scrum, the ball went straight to centre Ryoto Nakamura, who shifted past a flapping Alex Lozowski and went in under the posts.

As impressive this was, though, the true moment of magic came from captain Leitch. On the half-hour mark he powered past Danny Care, Dylan Hartley and Harry Williams before pulling up one-on-one with full-back Daly. The flanker stepped the Wasp, going over for the score to rapturous applause.
Japan entertain in loss to England at Twickenham

Keeping the ball alive: fly-half Yu Tamura offloads

With Japan leading 15-10, England rung the changes in the second half.
England pulled back in front with tries from Mark Wilson, debutant Joe Cokanasiga and Hartley from the back of a maul, and additional kicks from George Ford complimenting a Danny Care try and a long-range Daly penalty in the first half.
With 80 minutes gone, Japan could not resist one last tap-and-go, but England won a penalty and kicked to the corner however it all fizzled out.
After the match Eddie Jones said he was pleased for Japan, to play the way they did in this Test.
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