Japan 26 – 5 Samoa
Sometimes happiness is a zero-sum game.
Japan – up 20-nil at halftime, two tries to nil – efficiently protected their lead in the second half, squeezing Samoa out of the Cup.
While Japan played a high-speed, quick rotation game that controlled the ball for long periods, Samoa never imposed a pattern of their own. Except the pattern of three yellow cards which, at one point in the first half, reduced them to 13 men.
We need to have a bit more nuance in the story that the minnows have closed the gap with the Tier 1 countries in this Cup. It seems to me that the Pacific teams (Fiji, Tonga, Samoa) have all stood still, with the result that the other teams have gone past them. Think of Georgia beating Tonga, and now Japan beating Samoa. Only Fiji has performed with real self-credit, in losing their 3 matches not too badly to England, Australia and Wales.
It was, in truth, not the most exciting game, but great credit to Japan for playing with such discipline and pattern and skill. The win puts them in striking distance of making the quarter-finals, depending on how other results go.
For Samoa: time to get sorted. They looked down from early in the first half, and unable to force a change on the match.