Japan 27-39 Argentina, Pool D, Stade de la Beaujoire
Mateo Carreras scored a hat-trick as Argentina have sealed a spot in the quarter-final of the Rugby World Cup following a 39-27 victory over Japan in the Pool D encounter at Stade de la Beaujoire on Sunday.
With both teams tied at nine points, the game was a virtual knock out encounter and it was the Pumas, who showed the resilience in a closely contested encounter that saw the teams having a 14-15 scoreline by the end of the opening half.
Argentina now will join England as the second team from the group to sail through the top eight and now will face Wales in the opening quarter-final game at Stade de Marseille on 14th October while Japan finish third with 10 points.
Argentina made a head start to the game as Santiago Chocobares collected the ball at the back of a rolling maul and went past the final defender to touchdown in the second minute and Emiliano Boffelli kicked the conversion to make it 0-7.
Boffelli looked impressive in the opening exchanges exerting early pressure on Japan but after weathering the early attack, they managed to level the scores by the 16th minute as Amato Fakatava exhibited great skills as he collected the ball on the right and chipped past the Argentina defenders before gathering the ball and crossed unopposed. Rikiya Matsuda kicked the extras as the scores were levelled 7-7.
The 23rd minute Japan saw Pieter Labuschagne sin-binned after his shoulder made contact with the head of Thomas Gallo and Boffelli missed a penalty chance which could have put the Pumas into the lead. Nevertheless, they eventually made use of the numerical advantage with Matsuda missing a drop goal attempt that was charged down by Marcos Kremer as they launched an attack at the end of which Carreras went over.
Boffelli missed the conversion but made amends with a penalty goal in the 35th minute taking Argentina's lead to 7-15. Nevertheless, Japan managed to narrow down the gap to just one point by the end of the opening half as Dylan Riley and Siosaia Fifita combined to send Naoto Saito over the line and Matsuda followed with the conversion making it 14-15.
Argentina started the second half similar to the first as they worked the ball on the left allowing Carreras to touchdown for the second time in the game and Boffelli converted to extend their lead to 14-22 before Matsuda landed a three-pointer in the 52nd minute to reduce the gap back to five points.
Lomano Lemeki helped Japan reduce the arrears further with a drop goal in the 56th minute making it a two point game but Argentina struck back immediately as Gonzalo Bertranou created the space for Boffelli who completed a converted try to make it 20-29 as the game entered the final quarter.
Japan did not relent under pressure and showed great character to make a comeback as Jone Naikabula powered over in the left corner and Matsuda completed a tough kick bring the scoreline to 27-29 but it was once again Carreras, who calmed the nerves for the Pumas with his third try that came from 15 metres out and Nicolas Sanchez ensured there was no coming back for the Brave Blossoms with a conversion and a penalty goal to steer a nine point victory.
Points Table: Pool D
Team line up:
Japan: Lomano Lemeki; Kotaro Matsushima, Dylan Riley, Ryoto Nakamura, Siosaia Fifita; Rikiya Matsuda, Naoto Saito; Keita Inagaki, Shota Horie, Jiwon Gu; Jack Cornelsen, Amato Fakatava; Michael Leitch, Pieter Labuschagne, Kazuki Himeno (captain)
Reserves: Atsushi Sakate, Craig Millar, Asaeli Ai Valu, Warner Dearns, Amanaki Saumaki, Yutaka Nagare, Ryohei Yamanaka, Jone Naikabula
Argentina: Juan Cruz Mallia; Emiliano Boffelli, Lucio Cinti, Santiago Chocobares, Mateo Carreras; Santiago Carreras, Gonzalo Bertranou; Thomas Gallo, Julian Montoya (captain), Francisco Gómez Kodela; Guido Petti Pagadizabal, Tomas Lavanini; Pablo Matera, Marcos Kremer, Juan Martin Gonzalez
Reserves: Agustín Creevy, Joel Sclavi, Eduardo Bello, Matias Alemanno, Pedro Rubiolo, Lautaro Bazan Velez, Nicolás Sánchez, Matías Moroni