Leitch red card costs Japan in Samoa

Japan admitted they must toughen up mentally forward of the World Cup after dropping to Samoa on Saturday following a first-half crimson card for veteran Michael Leitch.

Samoa edged the sport 24-22 in Sapporo in what was a gown rehearsal for the 2 groups’ Pool D encounter on the World Cup in France later this 12 months.

Japan took an early lead however suffered a blow when former captain Leitch was red-carded 10 minutes earlier than the break for a harmful sort out on Samoa’s So’otala Fa’aso’o.

Japan flanker Kazuki Himeno mentioned it was “disappointing” that the Courageous Blossoms couldn’t shake off the psychological results of Leitch’s dismissal.

“We wished to maintain going with out being too pessimistic about it but it surely did put a damper on our staff’s morale,” he mentioned.

“We couldn’t flip the tide.”

The New Zealand-born Leitch was taking part in within the metropolis the place he first lived after arriving in Japan as a 15-year-old.

However his involvement didn’t even final till half-time after he noticed crimson for hitting Fa’aso’o excessive within the sort out.

Japan fly-half Lee Seung-sin tried to take the positives out of taking part in with 14 males.

“How we play with a person down isn’t one thing we will expertise in coaching,” he mentioned.

“We did all the things we might in that scenario and we did lose ultimately, but it surely was a optimistic expertise and in a way we realized lots.”

Japan and Samoa have been drawn collectively in Pool D on the World Cup alongside England, Argentina and Chile.

They face one another in Toulouse on September 28.

Japan staked an early lead after a strive from debutant Amato Fakatava, who wriggled over the road within the sixth minute.

Samoa, who handed a debut to former Wallabies playmaker Christian Leali’ifano, got here again into the match with tries from Alamanda Motuga and Jonathan Taumateine.

Japan stayed forward by way of fly-half Lee’s boot, however one other strive from Samoa’s Tumua Manu within the 63rd minute turned the tables on the Courageous Blossoms.

Japan reached the World Cup quarter-finals for the primary time on dwelling soil 4 years in the past, and Leitch has mentioned he believes they’ll win this 12 months’s match.

Full-back Ryohei Yamanaka admitted that that they had “challenges to beat” if they’re to make an impression.

“We wish to put together properly,” he mentioned.

“We’ll repair the issues from at the moment’s sport in order that we will produce good outcomes on the World Cup.”

Japan proceed their preparations with one other dwelling Take a look at match towards Tonga subsequent Saturday, earlier than taking part in Fiji one week later.

© Agence France-Presse

Picture: Richard A. Brooks / AFP

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Printed : 2023-07-22 14:09:19

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