12 Oct 2015

Japan exit RWC despite three gripping pool wins

11:27 am on 12 October 2015

Having begun in the most dramatic fashion, Japan's Rugby World Cup campaign ended Monday morning with a 28-18 victory over the United States that left them as the first team to win three pool games and fail to reach the quarter-finals.

Japan's prop Kensuke Hatakeyama (L) embraces Japan's scrum half Atsushi Hiwasa (R) after winning the Pool B match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup with South Africa.

Japan prop Kensuke Hatakeyama (L) and halfback Atsushi Hiwasa (R). Photo: AFP

Tries from Kotaro Matsushima, Yoshikazu Fujita and Amanaki Mafi helped the Brave Blossoms earn another well-deserved victory.

Missed the game? Look back at our commentary here

But the occasion in Gloucester was the ultimate anti-climax, coming three weeks after they shocked the tournament by beating two-time champions South Africa.

Despite falling to their fourth defeat, the US were no pushovers and ended their own campaign with a spirited performance as tries from Takudzwa Ngwenya and Chris Wyles kept them in the contest throughout.

Scotland's victory over Samoa on Sunday had ensured that Japan, who will host the tournament in 2019, could finish no better than third in Pool B, and they ended two points adrift of the Scots and four behind group winners South Africa.

Following the advent of five-team pools in 2003, no country had won three of their pool stage encounters and not progressed, but Japan's failure to pick up bonus points in any of their matches, proved to be their undoing.

- Reuters

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