Wallabies hit 60 against Japan in European warm-up

Saturday November 4 2017

Henry Speight (second right) of Australia is congratulated by teammates after scoring a try during their rugby union test match against Japan in Yokohama, suburb of Tokyo, on November 4, 2017. PHOTO | TORU YAMANAKA |

Henry Speight (second right) of Australia is congratulated by teammates after scoring a try during their rugby union test match against Japan in Yokohama, suburb of Tokyo, on November 4, 2017. PHOTO | TORU YAMANAKA |  AFP

By AFP
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YOKOHAMA

Injury-hit Australia crushed Japan 63-30 in Yokohama on Saturday to kick off their northern hemisphere tour in impressive style.

The Wallabies ran in nine tries in a lopsided encounter as they followed up wins against world champions New Zealand and the Barbarians with a clinical display against the 2019 World Cup hosts.

Tevita Kuridrani muscled over for a hat-trick of tries and Samu Kerevi added two more, while utility back Reece Hodge slotted a perfect nine from nine with the boot in his first test at flyhalf.

"We were really happy with probably about 60 minutes of our game," said Australia captain Michael Hooper.

"Japan's players fought hard and were really strong in the breakdown. They turned us over too many times and put 30 points on us — we've got to be better than that.

"But it was a great experience playing here," he added. "The fans were loud and you can feel how big it's going to be here for the World Cup."

Kerevi's second provided the game's highlight, the bulldozing centre collecting a no-look pass from Kurtley Beale to cap a stunning move started by Henry Speight deep in Australia's own half.

Japan lost 47-27 to a world select side last week in a butter-fingered display but ill discipline cost the Brave Blossoms against the Australians, who scored further tries through Speight, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Nick Phipps and Rob Simmons.

The Asian champions were left stunned when Speight burst clear to score Australia's second try after just 11 minutes as the floodgates threatened to spring open.

Trailing 35-3 at halftime, Japan improved after the break with locks Wimpie van der Walt and Amanaki Mafi grabbing tries before Kazuki Himeno bundled over after the final buzzer to help Japan hit the 30-point mark, to the joy of 43,000 in Yokohama.

'DIFFERENT LEVEL'

Japan captain Michael Leitch pulled no punches in summing up the match.

"We were up against one of the top four teams in the world and we felt the difference between our level and theirs," he said.

"Discipline in that first 20 minutes hurt us and we have to improve in a lot of areas before the World Cup."

Despite missing key players, Australia were never threatened at the venue for the 2019 World Cup final in what proved to be a gentle workout for tougher tests away to Wales, England and Scotland this month.

Hodge was calmness personified with regular flyhalf Bernard Foley out sick and made several pinpoint passes that led to tries, while second-choice scrumhalf Phipps looked solid in place of the injured Will Genia.

"Between the last game and this game we lost five or six players but our mindset and attitude were very good from the start," said Australia head coach Michael Cheika, whose side take on Wales in Cardiff next weekend.

"We dropped off a bit toward the end but Japan played very well. It was a fantastic atmosphere and a great place to play rugby."

Japan, who were destroyed 91-3 by Australia the last time they met at the 2007 World Cup, have struggled since winning three games at the 2015 tournament under Eddie Jones.

"It was a really disappointing start to the game," said Japan coach Jamie Joseph.

"We gave penalties away in the first half and couldn't really get our game going. But in the second half we showed what we can do when we create some pressure on the opposition and play our type of rugby.