Pacific Nations Cup wins for Japan, Samoa and USA

Adam Kyriacou

Japan toppled Fiji on the opening weekend of World Rugby’s Pacific Nations Cup to get their World Cup preparations off to a perfect start.

In the weekend’s other matches Samoa came from behind to beat Tonga in Apia and USA put in a dominant performance to down Canada in Colorado.

In Japan, the Brave Blossoms claimed a 34-21 victory over Fiji in front of a sell-out crowd at the Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium, as the Rugby World Cup venue was officially added to the list of test match host venues.

Japan’s performance at the Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium was worthy of the occasion as they held off a second-half fight back from Fiji, a side they hadn’t beaten in the previous eight years.

The Pacific Nations Cup match at Kamaishi and the upcoming game at Hanazono this Saturday are both being used for operational testing as part of the country’s Rugby World Cup readiness programme to ensure the country is primed and ready for the Rugby World Cup kick off on 20 September.

Meanwhile, at Apia Park in Samoa, the hosts downed Tonga 25-17, after ill-discipline cost the visitors dearly in the final quarter, allowing Samoa to come from behind to secure the victory in the opening match of the Pacific Nations Cup.

In Colorado, USA’s dominance over Canada continued with a 47-19 victory over their North American neighbours in the weekend’s final match, which took place in front of a sold-out crowd at Infinity Park in Glendale.

Canada have not beaten USA since August 2013, and rarely looked like improving on that recent record as the hosts raced to an early two-try lead from which Canada were unable to recover.

This year’s edition of the Pacific Nations Cup takes on added meaning with all six participating teams making their final Rugby World Cup 2019 preparations. The tournament, contested over three rounds, promises to be the most competitive and fascinating to date, offering teams a vital chance to fine tune their squads and scope out their opposition.

The action continues on Saturday 3 August when USA take on Samoa and Fiji face Canada at ANZ Stadium in Suva, Fiji, before Japan and Tonga meet at Rugby World Cup venue Hanazono Rugby Stadium, in front of another sell-out crowd as the host nation’s preparations continue with haste ahead of the start of Rugby World Cup on 20 September.