The Samoans kept it tight against South Africa for 15 minutes but their heads dropped after JP Pietersen’s interception try, the first of three for the Springbok winger in a 46-6 rout.
“To see the growth of the team, from us winning in Romania to beating Wales, Italy and now South Africa, has been great to be involved in”.
It is also Japan’s second oldest RWC side.
Japan have won twice and right now there doesn’t appear to be a huge amount separating the teams.
Scotland will attest to Borthwick’s work, too, having been shoved back over their own line by the Japanese at Kingsholm last Wednesday, offering further proof that the world order may be changing as the so-called little guys fight back.
Newcastle will be the same I am sure, and they have a cracking game to open with.
Kensuke Hatakeyama replaces Hiroshi Yamashita at tighthead prop, lock Hitoshi Ono extends his record as Japan’s most capped player to 96 by starting ahead of Justin Ives, and Ryu Koliniasi Holani is at No. 8, with Amanaki Lelei Mafi in the reserves after being carried off against Scotland.
“I’m not going to do an Eddie and mention players we’re targeting. They have stuck to the style that Eddie has moulded”, he said.
After their heroics against South African, Japan appeared jaded in the second half of their 45-10 defeat by Scotland.
Prediction: Samoa to score narrow win. Samoa have a really big pack so the scrum will be crucial. “Whoever is in the best form has been given the nod by me”.
“But apart from that, the physical conditioning of the players is first class. We don’t have any excuses for the game”.
Then came South Africa’s response.
“We’re playing one of the most powerful teams in the world, and in every position we’re giving height and weight away”, Jones said on Friday.
The hosts simply can not afford to lose.
In Greig Laidlaw they have a leader who takes on responsibility and knows what he is doing, but South Africa will be a much bigger test. We’ve got to be on our guard and do what we need to do.
Barritt never looks at home at 13, and the decision to play him there was daft as it inhibited England’s attacking potential.
‘When we started this programme four years ago, we worked out how we could overcome this, get over the disadvantages, so tomorrow is going to be a massive game.