Pool A preview: Canada v Japan

Mon, 26 Sep 2011 00:00
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It seems quite appropriate that two of the so-called 'lesser teams' in Pool A of the 2011 World Cup will meet in Napier on Tuesday when Japan's Brave Blossoms tackle Canada.

It seems quite appropriate that two of the so-called 'lesser teams' in Pool A of the 2011 World Cup, Canada and Japan, will meet in Napier on Tuesday.

You see, each country has an All Black as coach - John Kirwan for Japan and Kieran Crowley for Canada. Both are conservative men.

Former Italian head coach Kirwan has made two changes to the team beaten by Tonga while Crowley, after two matches, has made his first changes - two from the team that lost to France.

For Japan this will be their last match at the 2011 tournament while Canada still have the daunting task of facing the All Blacks.

The two teams met in 2007 and drew 12-all in a wonderful match when Japan got a converted try in the last minute. Japan have not won a World Cup match since they beat Zimbabwe in 1991. They would want this one. Canada have a much better record and would like this one to be automatic qualifiers for London in 2015.

It has been a tough World Cup for Japan as they have lost five of their 30-man squad already in this World Cup. Scrumhalf Ippei Asada was flown in just over a week ago to replace Tomoki Yoshida.

Crowley's only change to his starting XV was to bring in Matt Evans on the wing as he is back from injury and New Zealander Jeremy Kyne onto the bench.

Ryan Smith will win his 50th cap for Japan.

Players to Watch:

For Canada: DTH van der Merwe, the big, strong centre with the blond hair always catches the eye for more than just his hair.

For Japan: The most obvious player is action man Michael Leitch, the New Zealander who went to Japan at the age of 15,

Head to Head: Both flyhalves have played important roles in their teams - Ander Monro of Canada and James Arlidge of Japan. Their contest will be interesting as will that be between two hard-working wings Phil Mackenzie and Kosuke Endo. Then there are two outstanding flanks - Mike Leitch and bearded Adam Kleeberger, one of the personalities of the tournament. At outside centre there are two strong players - South African-born DTH van der Merwe (of Canada) and Samoan-born Alisi Tupuailai.

Recent Results:
2007: 12-12 draw in Bordeaux (World Cup pool match)
2005: Canada won 15-10 in Tokyo
2004: Japan won 34-21 in Tokyo
2001: Japan won 39 in Tokyo
2000: Canada won 62-18 in Toronto

Prediction: The weather, it says, will be fine but the match will be too tense for high scoring. If you look at World Cup 2011 form, Canada and Japan had similar results against France but Canada beat Tonga who comfortably beat Japan. Not that that is hard and fast but it does suggest that Canada will win by more than five points.

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The teams:

Canada: 15 James Pritchard, 14 Matt Evans, 13 DTH van der Merwe, 12 Ryan Smith, 11 Phil Mackenzie, 10 Ander Monro, 9 Ed Fairhurst, 8 Aaron Carpenter, 7 Chauncey O'Toole, 6 Adam Kleeberger, 5 Jamie Cudmore, 4 Jebb Sinclair, 3 Jason Marshall, 2 Pat Riordan (captain), 1 Hubert Buydens
Replacements: 16 Ryan Hamilton, 17 Scott Franklin, 18 Tyler Hotson, 19 Jeremy Kyne, 20 Sean White, 21 Nathan Hirayama, 22 Conor Trainor 

Japan: 15 Shaun Webb, 14 Kosuke Endo, 13 Alisi Tupuailai, 12 Ryan Nicholas, 11 Hirotoki Onozawa, 10 James Arlidge, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Takashi Kikutani (captain), 7 Michael Leitch, 6 Sione Talikavili Vatuvei, 5 Toshizumi Kitagawa, 4 Luke Thompson, 3 Nozomu Fujita, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Hisateru Hirashima.
Replacements: 16 Yusuke Aoki, 17 Kensuke Hatakeyama, 18 Hitoshi Ono, 19 Toetuu Taufa, 20 Atsushi Hiwasa, 21 Murray Williams, 22 Bryce Robins.

Date: Tuesday, September 27
Kick-off: 17.00 (04.00 GMT)
Venue: McLean Park, Napier
Expected weather: Clear with a high of 18°C, dropping to 5°C.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand), Vinny Munro (New Zealand)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)

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Pool A
Team P W D L Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 17
Wales 4 3 0 1 13
England 4 2 0 2 11
Fiji 4 1 0 3 5
Uruguay 4 0 0 4 0
Pool B
Team P W D L Pts
South Africa 4 3 0 1 16
Scotland 4 3 0 1 14
Japan 4 3 0 1 12
Samoa 4 1 0 3 6
United States 4 0 0 4 0
Pool C
Team P W D L Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 19
Argentina 4 3 0 1 15
Georgia 4 2 0 2 8
Tonga 4 1 0 3 6
Namibia 4 0 0 4 1
Pool D
Team P W D L Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 18
France 4 3 0 1 14
Italy 4 2 0 2 10
Romania 4 1 0 3 4
Canada 4 0 0 4 2