They rise after 24-22 win over Japan

With the Rugby World Cup warm-ups now underway, Samoa got off to a winning start by beating Japan 24-22 in Sapporo. And in doing so, ensured that Manu Samoa are into the top ten of the world rankings for the first time in eight years.

After Japan lost former captain Michael Leitch to a red card, following a high shot on  So’otala Fa’aso’o, Samoa had a golden opportunity. But at 10-10 at half-time, it looked like hard work… With the boot of Seungsin Lee serving Japan well.

However, tries from Alamanda Motuga, Jonathan Taumateine and Tumua Manu, plus three conversions and penalty for debutant  Christian Lealiifano edged the game in Samoa’s favour.

How are Samoa into top ten of world rankings again?

Under the stewardship of  Seilala Mapusua, the team have recorded seven wins. This includes victories over Australia A, Tonga, Fiji, Georgia and Romania, as well as this win over Japan.

Japan now swap places, with them into 12th in the rankings. Georgia sit at 11th.

According to World Rugby, “The Pacific Island nation last found themselves in that position (tenth in the rankings) on the eve of Rugby World Cup 2015 and have been down as low as 17th in the intervening years.”

Also at the weekend, Fiji bested Tonga 36-20 at Churchill Park in Lautoka. However, despite that result, both remain where they were in the world rankings, with Fiji staying put in 13th and Tonga maintaining their position at 15 on the board.

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