Ireland once again proved too strong for Japan defeating the Brave Blossoms 35-13 to wrap up the two match Lipovitan D Challenge series in style.
Three tries in the first 18 minutes by Garry Ringrose, Josh van der Flier and Kieran Marmion effectively ended the game as a contest, though coach Jamie Joseph will have been pleased with the way his side responded and the match was actually closer than the score-line suggests.
Flying winger Kotaro Matsushima, who was a constant threat to the Irish defensive line, gave the Japanese side a sniff of hope with a 23rd minute try, but Rhys Ruddock replied in kind seven minutes later.
Ireland went into the break 28-8 up, but the hosts were not about to give in. Flanker Shuhei Matsuhashi thought he’d given Japan the perfect start to the second half when he went over the line, but the decision went to a TMO which ruled that Yutaka Nagare had knocked the ball on. No try.
Japan continued to press forward and had Ireland on the back foot, but handling errors at crucial moments proved costly, as did Shota Horie’s poor throws from the lineouts. On the hour-mark Akihito Yamada went over in the right corner to reduce the deficit to 15 points.
With Ireland tiring Japan looked to increase the pressure, but this left gaps at the back, which the opposition exploited. Substitute Sean Reidy scored the visitors fifth try three minutes from the end. Paddy Jackson converted to complete a flawless afternoon with the boot.
Despite the 22-point defeat Japan played a lot better than they did seven days ago when they lost 50-22 to the same opponents in Shizuoka. The hosts looked much stronger with Luke Thompson back in the side. The 36-year-old New Zealand-born lock came out of retirement for the game.
Japan will meet Ireland again in the group stages at the 2019 World Cup.
In other sporting news, teenage sensation Abdul Hakim Sani Brown secured a 100-200m sprint double at the national championships in Osaka. The 18-year-old ran a career-best 10.05 in the 100 meters race and 20.32 in the 200 meters. He qualifies for the World Championships which will take place this August in London where he will be hoping to come up against the great Usain Bolt. It will be the Jamaican sprinter’s last major championship.