Los Condores were willing and able and gave Japan, a quarterfinalist at the last World Cup, a hard time in an entertaining match. They even had a sizeable amount of support at Stadium de Toulouse judging by all of the red jerseys.
Injured captain Kazuki Himeno was a late withdrawal but Japan still started with nine players with World Cup experience and bagged the win and bonus point from six converted tries.
But they also conceded two tries and were tattooed by Chilean defenders in baking conditions.
The Chileans’ confidence and trust in each other that Japan found so difficult to crack was apparent. Many of them grew up playing together and have honed their combination at Selknam, Chile’s pro club in Super Rugby Americas. Chile knocked out Canada and the United States to qualify for the World Cup and hasn’t won a fixture since but it attracted new fans for its resiliency and ambition. Japan missed 28 tackles.
Some Rugby World Cup debutants have suffered in some horrible first games down the years; Georgia lost to England 84-6 in 2003; Namibia lost to Fiji 67-18 in 1999; Ivory Coast lost to Scotland 89-0 in 1995.
But Japan quickly discovered it was in a contest in the sixth minute when Chile flyhalf Rodrigo Fernandez scored the opening try from a break by fullback Inaki Ayarza. Santiago Videla converted and the Chileans celebrated the milestone.
They were brought to earth when they dropped the kickoff catch. Japan recycled and lock Amato Fakatava waltzed through a big gap to tie the score at 7.
Chile buttoned down and impressively held out Japan until prop Matias Dittus was sin-binned for a late tackle on opposite Jiwon Gu.
Japan used the man advantage from scrum ball when wing Jone Naikabula powered through two defenders to score.
Dittus came back but then Chile captain Martin Sigren was sin-binned for colliding heads when Kotaro Matsushima crashed into him.
Short a man again, Chile conceded a lineout maul try and Fakatava’s second of the match for a 21-7 lead at halftime.
Japan was reduced to 14 after halftime when center Dylan Riley was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on. That’s when Chile created a second try with a little luck.
A chargedown flew into the hands of Ayarza, who charged to the tryline but was held by Fakatava. Chileans arrived en masse, however, and No. 8 Alfonso Escobar crashed over.
Sigren returned and Chile had the man advantage but Japan held the ball for nine phases to end with Michael Leitch scoring between the posts at his fourth World Cup.
Rikiya Matsuda, criticized for missing some easy goalkicks this year, was perfect on this day, and converted the last two late tries to Ryoto Nakamura and Warner Dearns that capped a memorable first meeting between the teams.
Source : France24