Japan Moves Closer To Rugby World Cup Quarterfinals with Win over Samoa

Masaki Furumaya / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Pieter Labuschagne scores a try in the first half in Toulouse, France, on Thursday.

TOULOUSE, France — Japan held on to defeat Samoa 28-22 at the Rugby World Cup on Thursday in Toulouse, moving the Brave Blossoms a step closer to making the quarterfinals out of Pool D.

Japan, with nine points from three matches, will advance to the knockout stage for the second consecutive tournament by winning its final group match against Argentina on Oct. 8,

On Thursday, Japan went ahead with a try by flanker Pieter Labuschagne in the 13th minute and took a 17-8 lead into halftime. Kazuki Himeno added a try in the second half as Japan padded its lead, only to see Samoa put on a rally that came up short.

“I just want to bring out the joy of playing for Japan on the field with really good friends,” stand-off Rikiya Matsuda said after the match.

England, with 14 points from three victories, has secured the top spot in the group. The top two teams in each group advance to the knockout stage.

There is an unlikely but possible scenario in which Japan will be able to advance with a draw or loss to Argentina, but that hinges on the results of Argentina’s match against last-place Chile on Saturday and Samoa’s final match against England.