Planet Rugby

Preview: Japan v Tonga

09th June 2012 16:52

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Kurt Morath

Retained at ten: Kurt Morath

Japan and Tonga have made minor alterations to their teams for Round Two of the IRB Pacific Nations Cup in Tokyo on Sunday.

Japan's Eddie Jones made just three changes to the side beaten 25-19 by Fiji ahead of Sunday's clash with Tonga at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground.

Hiroshi Yamashita starts at tighthead prop in place on Kensuke Hatakeyama, Hendrik Tui comes in for the injured Michael Leitch at number eight and Ryan Nicholas comes in for Tomohiro Senba at outside centre as the Brave Blossoms look to avenge their loss to the Ikale Tahi at last year's Rugby World Cup.

"When we selected the side there were two things we looked at," said Jones.

"We had a five-day turnaround so we needed some fresh legs and we struggled to stop Fiji at the gain line and struggled getting over the gain line."

Leitch was ruled out with a MCL injury but Jones said he believed Tui - who will be winning his first cap - was a similar player who would help Japan in both attack and defence.

"Tui is also a good ball carrier and we'll be looking for him to get over the gain line. We also need to have stopping power in the back row and we think Tui can give us that."

Tonga coach Toutai Kefu, meanwhile, made four changes to the side beaten 20-18 by Samoa.

Tevita Mailau is promoted off the bench and will start at hooker, while Viliami Maafu comes in at number eight.

In the backs, Sefa Vaka starts at centre in place of Mafileo Kefu, while Siale Piutau in named on the wing.

There is one new face on the replacements bench with Edmond Paea getting a call up.

Kurt Morath keeps his place at number ten. On Tuesday, the fly half - who now plies his trade in Japan for Kefu's Kubota Spears - kicked six penalties to take over from Fiji's Taniela Rawaqa as the highest points scorer in the history of the competition with 113.

When asked what his side needed to do to beat Japan, Kefu replied: "We need to cut down our errors, especially the unforced errors. Timing is important and it simply wasn't there [against Samoa]."

Japan: 15 Ayumu Goromaru, 14 Toshiaki Hirose, 13 Ryan Nicholas, 12 Harumichi Tatekawa, 11 Hirotoki Onozawa, 10 Kosei Ono, 9 Atsushi Hiwasa, 8 Hendrik Tui, 7 Takamichi Sasaki, 6 Yuta Mochizuki, 5 Hitoshi Ono, 4 Shinya Makabe, 3 Hiroshi Yamashita, 2 Takeshi Kizu, 1 Yusuke Nagae.
Rpelacements: 16 Ryuhei Arita, 17 Kensuke Hatakeyama, 18 Shoji Ito, 19 Takashi Kikutani, 20 Jun Fujii, 21 Tomohiro Senba, 22 Yasunori Nagatomo.

Tonga: 15 Viliame Iongi, 14 Siale Piutau, 13 Alipate Fatafehi, 12 Sefa Vaka, 11 Alaska Taufa, 10 Kurt Morath, 9 Taniela Moa (c), 8 Viliami Maafu, 7 Sione Vaiomounga, 6 Steve Mafi, 5 Joe Tuineau, 4 Josh Afu, 3 Kisi Pulu, 2 Ilaisia Maasi, 1 Tevita Mailau.
Rpelacements: 16 Viliami Pola, 17 Sila Puafisi, 18 Paula Kaho, 19 Pepa Koloamatangi, 20 Thomas Palu, 21 Mafileo Kefu, 22 Edmond Paea.

With thanks to the IRB

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