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25 Sep 2007 20:59
Japan scored a last-gasp converted try to earn a dramatic 12-12 draw against Canada in their final World Cup pool-B match in Bordeaux on Tuesday.
Substitute Koji Taira crossed in the right-hand corner after sustained late Japanese pressure and then Shotaro Onishi held his nerve to slot over the conversion from a tight angle to earn a share of the spoils.
In doing sp, Japan have almost certainly ended Canada’s proud record of earning a victory in every World Cup as their final match at the weekend is against two-time world champions Australia.
Japan opened the scoring when Kosuke Endo came off the right wing into the midfield and broke through three paper-hard tackles to run through and touch down.
The big winger went through flyhalf Ryan Smith and flanker Adam Kleeberger with embarrassing ease before a shimmy and side-step proved effective enough to break past winger DTH van der Merwe as well.
Onishi missed the relatively straight-forward conversion.
Thereafter, Canada dominated the ball and pushed on into Japanese territory, but lacked the spark of invention needed to break over the gain line, while Japan’s no-holds-barred tackling was also keeping the Canadians in check.
Canada’s cause wasn’t helped when hooker Pat Riordan was shown a yellow card on 36 minutes for an obvious stamp. They almost scored late in the half but just as the try line beckoned, fullback Mike Pyke spilled the ball in the tackle.
It took only eight minutes of the second half for Canada to turn the domination of their pack into points as Riordan, fresh from the sin bin, was bundled over to level at 5-5.
Just after the hour, Canada captain Morgan Williams kicked ahead and chased only to be denied a try by the retreating Takuro Miuchi, Japan’s captain.
Williams was looking the most likely outlet to fashion a try and so it proved as his quickly taken penalty left Van der Merwe with an easy touchdown in the left corner.
James Pritchard converted for a 12-5 lead with a quarter-hour to play.
Japan opened up and started running the ball with greater purpose, setting up a thrilling finale.
And this time, unlike in the 35-31 defeat by Fiji, they managed to engineer the try their attacking endeavour deserved.—AFP
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