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Maori All Blacks fall to Japan XV in Toyota

It was not quite the 'Miracle of Brighton,' but Eddie Jones was grinning widely after helping the Japan XV engineer a 26-14 upset of the Māori All Blacks at the City of Toyota Stadium.

Matches between the Māori All Blacks and Japan started in 2008 and until now a Japanese outfit had never beaten a New Zealand counterpart.


With a dozen minutes remaining, reserve hooker Tyrone Thompson peeled off the back of a rolling maul to score a try for the Māori ABs to close the gap to 18-12. When Rameka Poihipi's conversion followed, it appeared the visitors were coming home with a wet sail.

Instead, substitute prop Benet Kumeroa was yellow-carded with eight minutes left which sparked the hosts.

Fullback Yoshitaka Yazaki kicked a handy penalty before the Māori ABs infringed again. From a lineout, the Japan XV secured possession and drove 15 metres to create a unique slice of history, with Kenji Sato scoring the clinching try.

Maori All Blacks Japan XV rugby
The Maori All Blacks conceded three tries to lose to a Japan team for the first time. PHOTO: NZ RUGBY/ACTION PRESS

The hooker made a huge impact alongside fellow subs Tiennan Costley and Sanaila Waqa, who both spent an extensive period playing in New Zealand.

Costley had a hand in the Japan XV’s second try, with a determined charge ending just short of the line. Shuhei Takeuchi followed the bustling flanker with a thrust through the middle of the ruck.

Like the previous Saturday, Japan XV started briskly, and bulky second-five Samisoni Tua scored the only try of the first spell with a bullying run.

Japan XV kicked intelligently, tackled vigorously, and was more accurate and imaginative on the attack. 

The Māori ABs led at no point of the contest struggling to adapt to the stifling heat while mangled in the scrums and lacking rhythm throughout. It was telling their first try took 44 minutes to score - a lineout drive by Kurt Eklund.

Co-captains hooker Mamoru Harada and halfback Naoto Saito were influential for the Japan XV, while openside Kai Yamamoto topped the tackle count with 12, matching the tally of Māori ABs captain Billy Harmon and lock Isaia Walker-Leawere.

Japan XV 26 (Samisoni Tua, Shuhei Takeuchi, Kenji Sato tries; Takuya Yamasawa 2 pen, con, Yoshitaka Yazaki pen) Māori All Blacks 14 (Kurt Eklund, Tyrone Thompson tries; Rameka Poihipi 2 con). HT:


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