Wales find form to rout Japan 72-18

Wales rediscovered their attacking spirit to rout Japan 72-18 in their World Cup Pool B match at the Millennium Stadium on Thursday. They had the bonus point in the bag by halftime after four tries in the first 40 minutes and kept up the tempo after the break to score 11 in total.

Despite the margin of victory, Gareth Jenkins’s side still committed several handling errors that will give them something to work on ahead of their final pool encounter with Fiji next week, a likely showdown for a quarterfinal place.

Australia, Wales, who have played a game more, and Fiji all have 10 points with the Wallabies favourites to secure top spot.

Japan’s two tries came from Welsh mistakes, which against better sides could have proved more costly.

The Cherry Blossoms showed they were not just turning up for the ride when they scored the first points of the match, centre Shotaro Onishi kicking a penalty in the fourth minute.

Wales got themselves on the scoreboard seven minutes later when Alun-Wyn Jones dived over for a try after a nice pass from Dafydd James. Stephen Jones converted.

Japan then made Wales pay for their errors with one of the most spectacular tries of the tournament.

The Welsh lost the ball close to their opponents’s line and Japan swiftly broke, the ball worked from left to right for wing Kosuke Endo to cap a move that had spanned almost the entire length of the pitch by shooting over for a wonderful try.

The shock seemed to wake Wales up and they sprang to life, getting two tries in quick succession.

James Hook’s excellent run down the left culminated in a try, which Jones converted and then hooker Rhys Thomas smashed through for his first international try. Another Jones conversion added to the points.

Wales sealed the bonus point just before halftime after a move set up by Martyn Williams. Jamie Robinson found Kevin Morgan and the fullback powered over for a 29-11 halftime lead.

As in Saturday’s match against Australia, Wales shot out of the blocks in the second half with Mike Phillips powering over the line for the fifth Welsh try early on.

Phillips was instrumental in the next one, his pass finding Shane Williams who marked his 50th cap with a try.

James followed up quickly with a try but then more sloppy handling allowed Japan to make another quick break. Hirotoki Onozawa got hold of the ball after a blunder by Alix Popham and sprinted over the line.

Gareth Cooper added his name to the list of try-scorers for Wales and Martyn Williams managed two towards the end, with Shane Williams adding his second of the night. – Reuters

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