Planet Rugby

Preview: Japan v USA

21st June 2013 16:26

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Fumiaki Tanaka japan Scrum half

On the rise: Fumiaki Tanaka

Japan coach Eddie Jones named the same 23-man squad for the third game in a row for Japan's final clash with the United States in the IRB Pacific Nations Cup on Sunday at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground.

Sunday's game will be the first time these two sides have met in the IRB Pacific Nations Cup. Japan have scored a try in each of their last 20 games. You have to go back to a game against Fiji in Tokyo in 2008 (Japan lost 24-12) when they last failed to score a try. This run of games included Tests against the All Blacks and France. Japan have only once failed to score a try in this fixture. This was back in 1991 when they lost 20-9.

In comparison, the USA have failed to cross the line on three occasions in their last 20 matches. All three of those games came in their last four matches which were losses to Canada (16-9), Ireland (15-12) and Tonga (18-9). The USA have also only once failed to score a try in the previous meetings between the two. This was back in 1986 when the sides drew 9-9.

Sunday's match will be the seventh time the two sides have met at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo. There have been three victories apiece between the two nations at the venue; the last time they met here was in 2011 when Japan won 20-14.

Japan have won three of their last five at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium. This includes their victory last weekend against Wales which finished 23-8. The USA have played at Sunday's venue on two previous occasions. They came out victorious on both occasions, winning 28-22 win against Romania in 2005, a result that followed up a 41-11 victory over Russia in 2004.

Todd Clever wins his 50th cap for the USA this weekend.

Following on from the wins against Wales and Canada, Jones was able to name an unchaned team after Craig Wing was passed fit. The 33-year-old centre was originally selected to start against Canada but was a late withdrawal on Wednesday evening, with Yu Tamura starting in his place and Seiichi Shimomura called up to the bench.

Wing's inclusion sees Tamura drop to the bench and Shimomura out of the squad all together.

The starting XV for Sunday's game is the same as that which started against Wales, meaning there are four changes -- in addition to Wing taking over from Tamura -- from the side that took to the field against Canada in Nagoya.

Masataka Mikami and Hiroshi Yamashita are both promoted from the bench with Yusuke Nagae and Kensuke Hatakeyama moving in the opposition direction. Mikami and Yamashita will pack down either side of Shota Horie and in front on Hitoshi Ono and Shoji Ito.

Ono and Ito started Wednesday's game on the bench and they take over from Justin Ives and Shinya Makabe, who resume their role as replacements.

When asked the reason for Japan's recent success, Hirose said: "Hard work. But we have one game to go and we want to finish in style."

The teams:

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: 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.

USA: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 Luke Hume, 13 Adam Siddall, 12 Andrew Suniula, 11 James Paterson, 10 Toby L'Estrange, 9 Mike Petri, 8 Todd Clever (C), 7 Peter Dahl, 6 Scott LaValla, 5 Louis Stanfill, 4 Brian Doyle, 3 Eric Fry, 2 Chris Biller, 1 Shawn Pittman.
Replacements: 16 Zach Fenoglio, 17 Nick Wallace, 18 Phil Thiel, 19 Cam Dolan, 20 Liam Murphy, 21 Robbie Shaw, 22 Seamus Kelly, 23 Blaine Scully.

Date: Sunday 23th June
Venue: Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo
Kick-off: 14:10 local
Referee: Greg Garne

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