Japan took a big step towards reaching the quarter-finals for the second successive World Cup with a 28-22 win over Samoa on Thursday, sending England through to the knockout stage as Pool D winners in the process.
Pieter Labuschagne, Michael Leitch and Kazuki Himeno scored tries and 13 points from the boot of flyhalf Rikiya Matsuda gave the Brave Blossoms enough breathing space to hold off a late fightback from 14-man Samoa.
The Samoans had a try on the board from Seilala Lam before winger Ben Lam sent from the field in the 47th minute and two more from Duncan Paia’aua and Christian Leali’ifano in the final quarter were not quite enough to overhaul Japan.
“It’s a big win, that was a really tough game,” said Japan coach Jamie Joseph. “We had to work hard to get the win, I take my hat off to the Samoan boys, they really took it to us.”
Japan moved out of a tie with Samoa into second place in the pool on nine points with a winner-takes-all showdown against Argentina looming next week if the Pumas, as expected, beat Chile on Saturday.
Samoa coach Seilala Mapusua said the red card had proved decisive as his team’s hopes of progressing were reduced to the mathematical.
“Really proud of the guys with the effort they put into the game, I couldn’t have asked for more,” he said. “But it’s tough playing a game against 15 men and to be down a man down.”
Both teams came into the match with one win from two games and the early exchanges were even until Japan struck in the 14th minute.
Fullback Lomano Lemeki, making his first test start for two years, bounced off a couple of tackles down the left wing to drive deep into the Samoa half and flanker Labuschagne barged over the line from close range.
Samoa were dominating territory and forcing Japan into a lot of tackles but getting no penetration from their backline and emerged with only a penalty from a long period in the red zone.
Matsuda stroked over a penalty in the 28th minute to continue his flawless performance from the tee at this World Cup and in Japan’s next attack around the half-hour mark created a try.
Japan were going through phases close to the Samoa line when Matsuda lofted a looping cutout pass out to Leitch on the left wing, leaving the former captain with a clear canter to the line.
Matsuda nailed the conversion from the wing to give Japan a 17-3 lead and Samoa suffered a second blow when scrumhalf Jonathan Taumateine was sin-binned.
Japan were also reduced to 14 men three minutes before the break when Shota Horie was sent to the sin-bin and Samoa took immediate advantage, rolling hooker Seilala Lam over the line for a try to cut the deficit to 17-8 at halftime.
The yellow card for a high shot by winger Lam early in the second half allowed Japan to reply in kind in the 49th minute, skipper Kazuki Himeno emerging from the pile of bodies to claim the try.
Matsuda missed his first kick of the tournament from the conversion but the news was worse for Samoa with the referee confirming that Lam’s yellow card had been upgraded to a red.
Another Matsuda penalty in the 56th minute extended the lead to 25-8 but Samoa hit back six minutes later with a try from fullback Duncan Paia’aua after the Samoan forwards again took a direct approach.
Former Wallabies flyhalf Leali’ifano added the extras and skipped across the line for a converted try of his own two minutes from time but Japan held on for their third successive win over Samoa in the World Cup.
Australia, South Africa crowned champions at Dubai 7s – ARN News Centre
Australia and South Africa won both the women’s and men’s tournaments at the Dubai 7s weekend.
For the first time the series, also known as the HSBC SVNS, the tournament featured equal numbers of men’s and women’s teams competing in each leg of the competition.
Women’s Rio 2016 Olympic champions Australia got off to a flying start on Saturday with victories over Brazil (39-0), Japan (66-0), and Ireland (33-5).
On Sunday the Pearls beat USA 32-5 in the quarter-finals, before edging past France 21-14 in the semi-final to set up a final match against their oldest rivals, and reigning series champions, New Zealand.
Australia clinched the winning try through flying winger Maddison Levi, sealing the game 26-19 and top spot in the rankings.
Olympic Games Paris 2024 hosts France beat Canada 26-5 in the third place play-off.
— HSBC SVNS (@SVNSSeries) December 3, 2023
South Africa’s men’s team opened their season with victories over Samoa (22-14), Canada (35-14), and previous champions New Zealand (21-19) in the group stage.
After comfortably dispatching Australia 24-7 in the quarter-finals on day two, they shocked two-time reigning Olympic champions Fiji 14-7 in the semi-finals.
The defending champions beat Argentina 12-7 in a thumping encounter to claim their fifth straight Emirates Dubai 7s title.
Unstoppable in Dubai 🎆
— HSBC SVNS (@SVNSSeries) December 3, 2023
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Fernandez double helps 10-man Chelsea to 3-2 win over Brighton – ARN News Centre
First Chelsea Premier League goals from Enzo Fernandez and Levi Colwill earned the 10-man home side a 3-2 win over Brighton and Hove Albion at a rain-sodden Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Chelsea played the entire second half a player down after captain Conor Gallagher picked up two yellow cards, but World Cup-winning Argentine Fernandez kept them in front with a goal in each half.
Fernandez, who had only previously scored in the League Cup, headed home a neat overhead kick from defender Benoit Badiashile in the 17th minute.
Colwill, on loan at Brighton last season, made it two four minutes later from a Nicolas Jackson headed pass. It was the former Chelsea junior’s first senior goal for his side but he chose not to celebrate in front of the travelling fans.
Chelsea looked to be cruising but Brighton pulled one back two minutes from halftime through a curling shot by Facundo Buonanotte.
Then Gallagher slid in on former Chelsea team mate Billy Gilmour and was dismissed by referee Craig Pawson.
Brighton pressed Chelsea in numbers at the start of the second half, trying to make their advantage tell but substitute James Milner could not keep up with Mykhailo Mudryk on the counter and brought him down.
After a six minute delay for a VAR check, Fernandez scored his second from the penalty spot in the 65th minute.
Brighton’s Joao Pedro made sure of a nervy run-in during time added-on when he scored with a glancing header in the 92nd minute after sustained pressure from the visiting side.
They peppered the Chelsea goal for the last hectic 10 minutes and Chelsea had Robert Sanchez to thank for keeping the score in check.
Pascal Gross had three good chances saved by the Spanish keeper in regulation time and he also kept out a Joao Pedro effort in the 99th minute.
A final twist in the tail sent Pawson to the VAR monitor for a second time after he indicated a penalty for a handball from Colwill as Chelsea defended desperately with every player behind the ball.
The replays showed the Chelsea man had been hit in the face rather than on the arm by the ball and the decision was overturned.
The result sent Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea up a place to 10th in the table, three points behind Brighton in eighth.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 3, 2023
Man City held again in six-goal Spurs thriller, Liverpool move second – ARN News Centre
A Sunday goal glut ended with champions Manchester City drawing a third successive Premier League game as they were held 3-3 at home by injury-hit Tottenham Hotspur to slip to third place in the table, three points behind leaders Arsenal.
The five games produced 24 goals, the last of which was headed home by Spurs winger Dejan Kulusevski in the 90th-minute at the Etihad Stadium to deny Pep Guardiola’s side victory.
Liverpool moved a point above City into second spot as they scored twice late on to turn around a 3-2 deficit at home to Fulham and win 4-3 with Trent Alexander-Arnold sealing victory.
Ten-man Chelsea beat Brighton & Hove Albion 3-2 at Stamford Bridge while fourth-placed Aston Villa needed a late Ollie Watkins goal to scrape a 2-2 draw at Bournemouth.
West Ham United drew 1-1 at home to Crystal Palace.
City have now gone three games without a win in the league for the first time in six years as once again their nemesis Tottenham caused Guardiola’s side a headache.
Despite winning three successive titles, City have now beaten Spurs only once in their last five meetings.
Substitute Jack Grealish’s 81st-minute goal looked to have secured City victory but Kulusevski headed in Brennan Johnson’s cross to reward Ange Postecoglou’s side’s risk-taking approach and move them back up to fifth, six points off the pace.
What a game at the Etihad.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 3, 2023
Tottenham’s Son Heung-min had opened the scoring in the sixth minute on the counter-attack but then levelled for City as a cross bounced off him into the net three minutes later.
Phil Foden gave City the lead and they twice hit the woodwork in a dominant first half but Giovani Lo Celso equalised after the break with a sublime low shot.
In a frantic conclusion Guardiola’s side were furious deep in stoppage time when Grealish was through on goal but play was stopped for a foul on Erling Haaland during the build-up.
“It is hard when you review the image, the referee decides to blow the whistle after he has already said to play on. After the pass, the whistle, so I do not understand this action,” Guardiola told Sky Sports.
“It was a good game. It is a pity. Sometimes football is like life, you do not get what you deserve.”
Arsenal, who beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 on Saturday, lead the table with 33 points from 14 games, with Liverpool on 31 and Manchester City on 30.