Hosts Japan smashed Samoa 38-19 yesterday as they took another step toward a first quarter-final spot at the Rugby World Cup.

Tries by Timothy Lafaele, Kazuki Himeno, Kenki Fukuoka and Kotaro Matsushima helped make it three wins out of three for the Brave Blossoms, who returned to the top of Pool A.

Yu Tamura scored 18 points from the boot to pace Japan, who added a bonus point through Matsushima’s try that ended the game to take control of their own destiny.

Japan showed the greater hunger and fight as the Pacific islanders made an early exit.

Tamura and Henry Taefu traded a handful of penalties in the early skirmishes before Lafaele scored the game’s first try just before the half-hour mark after swarming Japanese pressure.

With Samoa’s T.J. Ioane in the sin bin for a late hit on local boy Tamura, Lafaele spotted a gap and crashed over to the joy of 45,000 fans at the Toyota Stadium.

Samoa’s Tim Nanai-Williams went off with a head injury just before half-time after being smashed by James Moore — the fullback’s failure to re-emerge a big miss.

Leading 16-9 at the break, Taefu’s boot brought Samoa to within four points before Tamura slotted a penalty of his own and Himeno bulldozed over after 54 minutes.

The crowd’s excitement reached fever pitch as Japan’s maul rolled on from a line-out and Himeno completed the job.

Samoa had won 11 of the 15 Tests played between the sides, but it has been seven years since they last beat Japan.

Himeno’s try knocked the stuffing out of the Pacific islanders, who reached the World Cup quarter-finals in 1991 and 1995 but have been cannon fodder for the bigger teams at recent tournaments.

Taefu scored and converted a try that gave Samoa brief hope before Fukuoka added a third for Japan.

Almost five minutes after the final gong, Matsushima darted over for his fourth try of the tournament to bring Japan a bonus point.


England became the first team to reach the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals after a 39-10 bonus-point win over Argentina, who had a man sent off for a high tackle.

Jack Nowell celebrated his return from injury with a late try, one of six scores for Eddie Jones’ men.

Argentina hooker Agustin Creevy had described the match as “like a war” and passions boiled over in the 12th minute with an off-the-ball scrap sparked by a hit from Pablo Matera.

Shortly afterward, referee Nigel Owens showed lock Tomas Lavanini a red card for a high hit on center Owen Farrell, the tournament’s fourth.

The 14-man Pumas lost their way from there and despite a second-half score, were never in the match


Teenage wing Jordan Petaia crashed over for a try on his debut as Australia rode out two yellow cards to rout Uruguay 45-10 and stay on course for the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.

However, Australia again had disciplinary issues, with two players sin-bined for dangerous tackles.