USA v Japan preview: Brave Blossoms looking to impress once more on World Cup departure
- Japan have already automatically qualified for 2019 tournament by finishing in third
- AJ MacGinty returns at number ten for the USA
- The Brave Blossoms Chris Wing is to become oldest ever World Cup debutant
- The Eagles are looking to ensure they do not finish on zero points exit
- 20:00 kick off at Kingsholm
Both Japan and The USA will be making their World Cup exits tonight, with both sides heading home after the group stages, but it is the Brave Blossoms who have caught the eye during this tournament.
An outstanding opening day win against South Africa is one of the greatest sporting upsets in history, and they will be out to impress the fans once more with some superb attacking play. In fact, if they win they will be the only side ever to win three pool games and not qualify for the knockout stages.
The Eagles though will be out to spoil the party at Kingsholm, and will look to claim their first World Cup victory in the competition following three successive defeats.
The last time these two sides met was in the Pacific Cup with the USA emerging victorious 23-18. It is also worth noting that the brave blossoms have only beaten the Eagles just eight times in 21 previous meetings.
Fpr Japan, Craig Wing is set to become the oldest ever Rugby World Cup debutant at 35 years old after making the starting fifteen. He is one of four changes made by Eddie Jones, Japan’s head coach, with Hiroshi Yamashita being selected over Kensuke Hatakeyama.
Yoshikazu Fujita also comes in on the wing for Akihito Yamada, who drops out of the match-day 23.
As for the USA, they are fielding a much-changed side from the one that lost to South Africa on Wednesday. Samu Manoa and Zach Test are the only two players who have retained their starting spot from that side, and Chris Wyles will captain the side in his record-equalling eleventh World Cup cap for the Americans.
The Eagless have history on their side, overcoming Japan as recently as this past summer, and will be extremely motivated not to finish on zero points when the tournament is over. However, the Japanese are red hot favourites after some fantastic performances, which have been rewarded with some equally impressive victories. Eddie Jones has proved he can get his side organised, and they will be motivated to go out on a high ahead of their home tournament in four years time. The USA have showed their quality in flashes, but overall they simply haven’t been good enough at this competition thus far. It will probably be a close one, but Japan will probably edge it.
Japan by 7
Players to Watch
He is the Japanese leader on the field, the player who sets the level of performance for others to match and someone for the other players to look up to. He puts himself about and is the driving force behind the mobile Japanese pack. He has shown all of his Super League experience against the more established countries in this tournament and at 27 years old can lead this side into the future.
With MacGinty returning to number 10 for the Americans, it should help steady the ship. He is a fly half with the ability to develop into a good player and in this tournament has shown he can keep calm under pressure with an impressive all-around kicking game. He is a player worth keeping an eye on going into the game and the future.