Japan get the better of Georgia

Japan returned to the victory trail when they claimed a hard-fought 28-22 win over Georgia in Tbilisi on Saturday.

As the scoreline suggests, this was a thrilling affair with both sides giving their all to secure the result and the lead changed hands on four occasions.

Japan outscored their hosts by four tries to three but, as expected, Georgia dominated the forward exchanges while the Brave Blossoms held the upperhand amongst the backs.

The visitors raced into an 8-0 lead inside the opening quarter thanks to a Kotaro Matsushima try and a penalty from Yu Tamura but Georgia held a 12-8 lead at half-time thanks to tries from Viktor Kolelishvili and Vasil Lobzhanidze.

Japan regained the lead shortly after the restart when Lomano Lemeki crossed the whitewash but Georgia regained the lead shortly afterwards when Beka Bitsadze dotted down.

Merab Kvirikashvili added the extras and five minutes later he landed a penatly which meant the home side held a 22-13 lead as the match approched the final quarter.

But Japan soon trailed by two points when Lemeki crossed for his second try, which Tamura converted, and they were back in front in the 65th minute when Kenki Fukuoka scored their fourth five-pointer.

Things went pear-shaped for Georgia two minutes later, when Anzor Sitchinava was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle and Tamura sealed the win for the Brave Blossom with a penalty in the 76th minute.

The scorers:

For Georgia:
Kolelishvili, Vasil Lobzhanidze, Bitsadze
Cons: Kvirikashvili 2
Pens: Kvirikashvili

For Japan:
Lemeki 2, Matsushima, Fukuoka
Cons: Tamura
Pens: Tamura 2

Georgia: 15 Merab Kvirikashvili, 14 Tamaz Mchedlidze, 13 Davit Kacharava, 12 Merab Sharikadze, 11 Giorgi Aptsiauri, 10 Lasha Khmaladze, 9 Vasil Lobzhanidze, 8 Beka Bitsadze, 7 Viktor Kolelishvili, 6 Mamuka Gorgodze, 5 Giorgi Nemsadze, 4 Konstantin Mikautadze, 3 Levan Chilachava, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili
Replacements: 16 Badri Alkhazashvili, 17 Vasil Kakovin, 18 Davit Kubriashvili, 19 Lasha Lomidze, 20 Giorgi Tkhilaishvili, 21 Giorgi Begadze, 22 Lasha Malaguradze, 23 Anzor Sitchinava

Japan: 15 Kotaro Matsushima, 14 Lomano Lemeki, 13 Timothy Lafaele, 12 Harumichi Tatekawa, 11 Karne Hesketh, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Shunsuke Nunomaki, 6 Malgene Ilaua, 5 Kyosuke Kajikawa, 4 Kotaro Yatabe, 3 Heiichiro Ito, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Satoshi Nakatani
Replacements: 16 Takeshi Hino, 17 Masataka Mikami, 18 Yasuo Yamaji, 19 Samuela Anise, 20 Uwe Helu, 21 Keisuke Uchida, 22 Amanaki Lotoahea, 23 Kenki Fukuoka

Referee: Federico Anselmi (Argentina)