Japan stepped up their preparations for next year’s Rugby World Cup with a 34-15 win over Uruguay in Tokyo on Saturday.
The 2019 World Cup hosts were kicking off a series of home Test matches that will see them play Uruguay twice and Six Nations champions France twice over the coming weeks.
Japan fielded a mix of up-and-coming development players and veterans of their historic run to the 2019 World Cup quarter-finals and had too much firepower for Uruguay.
Head coach Jamie Joseph handed control of the team to coach Takanobu Horikawa but the New Zealander will be back in charge for next week’s second game against Uruguay in Kitakyushu.
“Over the 80 minutes we were in control and we were able to play with composure,” said Horikawa.
“We were able to show our style and do the things we have been working on for the past two weeks in attack and defence. I’m very satisfied with today’s game.”
Japan have been drawn to face England, Argentina, Samoa and a qualifier from the Americas at next year’s World Cup.
First-half tries from Koga Nezuka and Tevita Tatafu put them in control against Uruguay before Kosuke Horikoshi, Koji Iino and Takeshi Hino all scored after the break.
Japan handed debuts to four players in the starting line-up.
“It was nice to meet some new up-and-coming youngsters,” said second-row forward Wimpie van der Walt, one of only a handful of World Cup veterans in the side.
Diego Magno and Manuel Ardao scored second-half tries for Uruguay, who will play hosts France, New Zealand, Italy and an African qualifier at the World Cup.
“Our plan is to prepare for the World Cup by playing high-level matches like this to get experience,” said Uruguay head coach Esteban Meneses.
“I think there were a lot of good things to take from today’s game. We will try to improve and be in our best shape when the World Cup comes round.”
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