The historic win over the Wallaroos in the Tri-Series on Tuesday makes it three out of three wins for the Sakura 15.
Sakura 15 captain Saki Minami is keen for his side to use Tuesday’s historic 12-10 win over Australia at Bond University as a springboard into the Rugby World Cup 2021.
Second-half tries from fly-half Ayasa Otsuka and flanker Kyoko Hosokawa, along with the conversion of Ayasa Otsuka, saw Japan produce their best result four months before the game’s showpiece event.
Having already beaten Fijiana 28-14 in the Gold Coast and Australia Barbarians 24-10 in Brisbane, the result capped off a very satisfying few weeks for the Sakura 15s.
“With this win, we now stand on a new starting line,” Minami said.
“We lost three games in a row in Europe last time (in November), but we got three wins this time here.
“I have the feeling that our level has increased. We have our base and now we want to build it higher like a pyramid.
“By winning, a lot more people know about women’s rugby. This win means a lot,” added the loose-headed prop.
Defense a top priority
A mix of profligacy in attack and Japan’s refusal to let them in meant Australia were only able to muster 10 points from two maimed unconverted tries from Ashley Marsters and Adiana Talakai.
It was the first time that Japan beat a team ranked in the top five of the Women’s World Rugby Ranking powered by Capgemini and was a turnaround from a 46-3 loss to Australia when they last met in July 2019.
Sakura 15 assistant coach Louise Dalgliesh was delighted with the resilience the team showed.
“It’s been a big priority for the team with the work that Lesley (McKenzie, head coach) has done to drive this collective effort. Putting that into practice against such strong running backs and a strong team and sustaining that repeated effort and continuing to push them back was hugely enjoyable,” Dalgliesh said.
“It’s also credit to the hard work of the players and the support and expertise of our strength and conditioning team.”
Dalgliesh also echoed Minami’s belief that Japan is heading in the right direction leading to Rugby World Cup 2021played in 2022.
“For us, it’s another step forward as we head into the World Cup, but there’s still more to come from this team,” Dalgliesh said.
“It’s not a miracle, it’s down to hard work, it’s down to the effort, application and technical details of the players and great leadership, from Saki herself. and our other park leaders.”
For Australia, the result was a setback, but head coach Jay Tregonning was not too discouraged given it was only the team’s second Test in over two years.
“It’s still a positive effort. There were definitely some execution things we could have done better, tactically we thought we had a good game plan but all credit goes to Japan, their defense was exceptional .
“I think we are in a position where we have a lot to build on.”
When the Women’s World Rugby Rankings powered by Capgemini are updated at midday on Monday, Australia will drop one spot to sixth place and Japan will remain 12th.
The Wallaroos will be next in action on Monday June 6 when they take on New Zealand in Tauranga in the Pacific Four Series.