Japan have an opportunity to get revenge over a depleted Wales on Saturday as the nations go toe-to-toe at Chichibu Memorial Stadium.
Japan have an opportunity to exact revenge over a depleted Wales on Saturday as the two nations go toe-to-toe at Chichibu Memorial Stadium.
Only a second-half revival from the visitors kept the hosts from scoring their first ever win over the Welsh, with Rhys Patchell's late drop-goal sealing the tight victory for Robin McBryde's side. In the aftermath, the interim head coach credited his youthful outfit's determination to fight back.
However clawing their way to back-to-back wins over Japan – despite being without senior stars – would surely not be considered a successful trip.
And it is surely no coincidence that McBryde makes changes to his starting team this week, four of them in fact, as hard-working Cardiff Blues back-rower Josh Navidi will make his debut and left wing Tom Prydie, prop Rhys Gill and number eight Andries Pretorius are also named in the XV.
“We were proud of the side's effort last weekend but know we will have to step it up again on Saturday,” said McBryde earlier this week.
“It was good to see the character of the squad come through in the first Test and we will need that again.
“The players have again all put their hands up for selection making it a tough call for us and that shows their determination to get out on the field and represent their country.
“Japan showed what they are capable of last weekend and we know we will have to be at our best to get the second victory and finish the season on a high.”
Meanwhile, Japan make one change as Toshiaki Hirose comes into the starting XV as captain and said he hoped to get his men over the line in the second Test.
Hirose, whose side host the 2019 World Cup, hopes a rejig of Japan's passing combinations could make the difference as the Brave Blossoms try to seize their chance for a historic win.
“I'm really glad to be back. I'm excited to play a game,” said Hirose.
“We lost the previous game by only four points. I really want to win this time… We couldn't score when we had the chance, so we changed our passing play a little bit. Hopefully, we can finish with a try,” he added.
Ones to watch:
For Japan: The return of captain Toshiaki Hirose is a boost to the cause. Hirose had to wait five years for his second cap but his scoring record is impressive so Wales must keep an eye on the 31-year-old.
For Wales: It was surprising that Josh Navidi missed out on the initial squad after a strong season at the Blues. The hard-working openside gets his big chance this week and will want to make it count.
Head-to-head: The battle at nine intrigues as Highlanders scrum-half Fumiaki Tanaka takes on Cardiff Blues half-back Lloyd Williams. Tanaka is all about pace at the breakdown while Williams has a sharp mind. Their scrap will definitely be one to keep an eye on.
2013: Wales won 22-18 in Osaka
2007: Wales won 72-18 in Cardiff
2004: Wales won 98-0 in Cardiff
2001: Wales won 53-30 in Tokyo
2001: Wales won 64-10 in Osaka
1999: Wales won 64-15 in Cardiff
Prediction: The inclusion of Cardiff Blues duo Josh Navidi and Andries Pretorius in place of Rob McCusker and James King should boost Wales, who we think will win by about 5 to 10.
Japan: 15 Ayumu Goromaru, 14 Toshiaki Hirose (capt), 13 Male Sau, 12 Craig Wing, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Harumichi Tatekawa, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Takashi Kikutani, 7 Michael Broadhurst, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Shoji Ito, 4 Hitoshi Ono, 3 Hiroshi Yamashita, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Masataka Mikami.
Replacements: 16 Takeshi Kizu, 17 Yusuke Nagae, 18 Kensuke Hatakeyama, 19 Shinya Makabe, 20 Justin Ives, 21 Atsushi Hiwasa, 22 Yu Tamura, 23 Yoshikazu Fujita.
Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Harry Robinson, 13 Owen Williams, 12 Jonathan Spratt, 11 Tom Prydie, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Andries Pretorius, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 James King, 5 Lou Reed, 4 Bradley Davies (c), 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Emyr Phillips, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Craig Mitchell, 19 Andrew Coombs, 20 Dan Baker, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Dafydd Howells.
Date: Saturday, June 15
Venue: Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo
Kick-off: 14.00 (local)
Referee: Greg Garner (England)
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa), tba (Japan)
Assessor: Tappe Henning (South Africa)