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Japan thrash Tonga, set up Pacific Nations Cup decider against USA

Japan's Brave Blossoms will play off against the USA for rugby's Pacific Nations Cup, defeating Tonga 41-7 in Osaka.

Coming into the match after last weekend's impressive 34-21 showing against Fiji, Jamie Joseph's Japan kept up their free-flowing attacking style, running in five tries to Tonga's one, overpowering the Pacific side in front of their home crowd.

Ironically, Japan's first two tries came from two of their Tongan-born players returning to haunt their home nation, number eight Amanaki Mafi opening the scoring before prop Asaeli Ai Valu doubled the hosts' lead in the first half.

Centre Tim Lafaele added a third before the break after some brilliant work from first-five Yu Tamura, Japan leading 21-0 at halftime.

Tonga would strike after the interval, lock Leva Fifita surging over after some sustained pressure from his forward pack, however it would be too little, too late for the visitors.

Tries to utility back Kotaro Matsushima, and winger Kenki Fukuoka completed Japan's win, their bonus point victory ensuring the chance to seal the title next weekend.

Japan now travel to Suva, where they will face the USA next Saturday afternoon NZT.


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