All you need to know about the 40th and last pool stage match of this Rugby World Cup.
Japan finished their Pool B campaign with three wins out of four thanks to this deserved victory over the USA, but the 12 points the Brave Blossoms gathered in the pool leaves them two points short of a World Cup quarter-final spot.
The USA made Japan work very hard for this happy ending. The Eagles took the lead with an early penalty but Japan hit back quickly with a try from Kotaro Matsushima. Takudzwa Ngwenya put the USA back in front after 24 minutes with a try, but again Japan countered with a score of their own from Yoshikazu Fujita, converted – like the first – by Ayumu Goromaru, who kicked a penalty to give Japan a 17-8 half-time lead.
Goromaru and Alan MacGinty traded penalties before the impressive Amanaki Mafi took Japan out of sight with a try, so even when Chris Wyles sprinted over for a score which MacGinty converted, USA were still seven points down and a final Goromaru penalty sealed the win.
USA leave Rugby World Cup 2015 without a win, while Japan will want the next four years to rush by, before they host the 2019 showpiece.
Japan’s half-backs – Fumiaki Tanaka and Kosei Ono work together as a pair so well. Sometimes so close to each other they are practically joined at the hip, they always keep opponents on their toes.
Blossoms’ bravery – Japan came into this match knowing their quarter-final dream was over as Scotland were six points ahead of them in the Pool B table, but they still fought proudly to end the tournament on a high, coming back from behind twice and repelling several strong offensives from the USA.
Andrew Durutalo – The USA openside won the most turnovers in the match, five, was joint top of the gain-line breakers with himself and Michael Leitch both crossing the line ten times, and he made 46 metres in attack.
Glorious Gloucester – There was nothing but pride riding on this match, and it finished just shy of 10pm on a school night, but local rugby fans of all ages still packed Kingsholm’s stands and terraces to ensure the USA and Japan ended their tournament with a proper rugby send-off.
USA’s concentration – Both times the USA scored in the first half they conceded points to Japan immediately afterwards. Their fourth minute penalty was soon cancelled out by a sixth minute try for Japan and after Ngwenya scored his try with 25 minutes gone, they let Fujita through less than a minute after the re-start.
End of the party – So that’s it, the pool stages of RWC 2015 are over, and only the eight quarter-finalists remain. The party which has raged from Newcastle to Exeter and all points in between will now be replaced by the more serious business of the knockout stages. It’s been a blast.
67 – Japan enjoyed a slight advantage in the possession and territory stakes over the 80 minutes, but the USA had 67% of territory in the last ten minutes as they chased that elusive win.
15 – The number of tackles made by Japan lock Luke Thompson, which was the most in the match.
711- The total number of Test match points Japan full-back Ayumu Goromaru now has to his name, after kicking 13 at Kingsholm and passing the 700 mark.
11- This was Chris Wyles’ 11th World Cup appearance, equalling the USA record set by Mike MacDonald.
USA: C Wyles (capt); T Ngwenya, S Kelly, T Palamo, Z Test; A MacGinty, M Petri; E Fry, Z Fenoglio (P Thiel 63 min), T Lamositele, H Smith (C Dolan 30 min), G Peterson (J Quill 76 min), A McFarland (D Barrett 63 min), A Durutalo, S Manoa.
Tries (2): Takudzwa Ngwenya, Chris Wyles. Con: Alan MacGinty. Pens: MacGinty 2.
Yellow card: Eric Fry 60 minutes.
Japan: A Goromaru; Y Fujita, H Tatekawa, C Wing, K Matsushima (K Hesketh 48-56 min); K Ono (K Hesketh 72 min), F Tanaka (A Hiwasa 61 min); K Inagaki (M Mikami 58 min), S Horie (T Kizu 76 min), H Yamashita (K Hatakeyama 40 min), L Thompson, J Ives (S Makabe 67 min), M Leitch (capt), M Broadhurst (H Tui 72 min), R Holani (A Mafi 40 min).
Tries (3): Kotaro Matsushima, Yoshikazu Fujita, Amanakai Mafi. Cons: Ayumu Goromaru 2. Pens: Goromaru 3.
Referee: Glen Jackson (South Africa)
Man of the Match: Ayumu Goromaru (Japan)