Japan 28 – 18 USA
The pool marathon comes to an end with an enterprising match by two teams who already knew they were going home.
The USA, at least and at last, produced a performance of ambition. But their skill level is so far below what it should be that they were unable to execute on the ambition. For such a large and rich country, with the best sports science in the world and a culture of big fast men running into each other, it is a mystery why they should not be going ahead in rugby. Actually, it’s not a mystery: they have the wrong coach. Buy yourselves a professional and get serious.
Japan, on the other hand, knew exactly what they were on about, and kept doing it all night long. Their support in the ruck and maul is outstanding: three or four rushing in to secure the ball and make it available for fast movement. They hit the short passes at speed, kept pumping the legs and set the ball back cleanly. Very very well drilled by coach Eddie Jones.
They have the unwanted and undeserved record of being the first team to win three matches in the pool stage and not proceed to the quarter-finals. But they brought the Cup alive with their win against South Africa, and they have set a platform of domestic and international interest for hosting the next Cup in 2019.
Back to work people. It’s still only Monday morning.