Ireland edge Japan 39-31 in 9-try thriller in Dublin

Jul 05, 2021

Ireland edged a thrilling back-and-forth match with Japan 39-31 before 3,000 entertained fans at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.

The lead changed five times alone in a breathless first half that Ireland finished 19-17 ahead. Japan then went back in front for a fourth time and threatened a repeat of its historic first win over the Irish at its home Rugby World Cup in 2019.

But Ireland gradually asserted control and managed possession better. While Japan closed to trail just 33-31, Joey Carbery's two penalties gave Ireland a safe buffer against the tiring Japanese with 12 minutes to go.

2021 07 03 Michael Dublin

“We deserve to be disappointed,” captain Michael Leitch said. “We played well and we couldn’t execute in the end. The game was in the balance and we couldn’t score. I’m proud of the effort but we’ve got to keep working on our game.”

“We’re not the bigger side but we’ve got the skill sets, we’re fit and we can play this game. It was a good test but we want to win these test matches.”

“(Japan is) a top-class international side, so any type of win was always going to be a great result for us,” happy Ireland coach Andy Farrell said.

"Every single game that we'll play against Japan from now on in will always be a close encounter.”

Asahi Shinbun