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Saturday, October 9, 1999 Published at 19:51 GMT 20:51 UK

Wales run free

Captain Rob Howley makes another impressive break from the Japan defence

Wales 64-15 Japan

Neil Jenkins equalled rugby's all-time points scoring record as Wales overcame their stuttering start to the World Cup with an nine-try demolition of pacy Japan.

Wales kicker Neil Jenkins: "I'm just thrilled that the team have played well"
Wales re-discovered the free-flowing attacking game which had deserted them against Argentina and had the Millennium Stadium crowd singing in their seats.

An element of complacency in the Welsh ranks allowed Japan to score two counter-attacking tries that kept them in touch 26-15 at the interval.

[ image: A Young Welsh fan is flanked by two Japanese supporters]
A Young Welsh fan is flanked by two Japanese supporters
But harsh words from Welsh coach Graham Henry saw the home side emerge from the break in merciless form.

They proceded to crush their Pacific opponents with five second-half tries while conceding not a single point.

The number of tries - and the determination of the Welsh backs to score them under the posts - allowed Neil Jenkins to draw level with Michael Lynagh's all-time points record of 911.

Jenkins contributed 19 points to his side's 65-point total.

But it was captain Rob Howley who did most to rejuvenate the Welsh side.

His inspirational running and quick-handling spread through the ranks from the kick-off.

[ image: Mark Taylor (bottom left) tries to get hold of Japan's Pat Tuidrake]
Mark Taylor (bottom left) tries to get hold of Japan's Pat Tuidrake
His beautifully floated pass off the back of the scrum allowed Allan Bateman, one of five changes to the side which looked so out of sorts in the tournament opener, to score Wales' first try after just five minutes.

Neil Jenkins, whose kicking had been a little ragged against the Pumas, fired over the first of eight conversions.

Howley showed all his quick-wittedness when he dummied to pass inside and then muscled his way into the corner for Wales' second just five minutes later.

Wales relaxed but and Japanese right-wing Daisuke Ohata punished their complacency. He showed a fine burst of pace to race past the back-pedalling Welsh cover for the score.

Penalty score

Wales knuckled down again were awarded a penalty try before Howley created the pick of the Welsh scores to give the home side a 24-7 lead.

[ image: Wales's Scott Quinnell proved to be a thorn in Japan's side]
Wales's Scott Quinnell proved to be a thorn in Japan's side
He burst down the right flank before switching the ball inside and within seconds Shane Howarth was bearing down on the opposite wing, holding it up just long enough for centre Mark Taylor to arrive inside to finish from five yards.

But Japan, with a small but vociferous support in Cardiff, refused to give in.

Right winger Ohata was again the thorn in Wales' side as he released Patiliai Tuidraki in the corner for Japan's second try to keep Japan in touch.

But Wales emerged from the break in more ruthless form.

Fresh legs

Tries from Scott Gibbs, Howarth and a second for Taylor put Wales 50-15 ahead on the hour mark and allowed Henry to make a number of substitutions - among them Howley going off for David Llewellyn.

Llewellyn wasted no time scoring his first try for Wales, taking a quick tap-penalty before flinging himself under the posts.

But by then the question on everyone's lips was not the scale of Wales' victory - but whether Jenkins would manage to beat Lynagh's record.

Replacement winger Gareth Thomas thoughtfully cut in from the right flank to take the ball under the posts for Wales' eighth try.

Jenkins duly converted to draw level but despite his team-mates efforts, that was to be his last scoring opportunity.

Wales: Howarth, Jones-Hughes, Taylor, Gibbs, Bateman, N. Jenkins, Howley, Rogers, G. Jenkins, Young, Quinnell, Voyle, Williams, Sinkinson, G. Lewis.
Replacements: Jones, Thomas, Llewellyn, Wyatt, Evans, Humphreys, A. Lewis.
Japan: Hirao, Ohata, McCormick, Motoki, Tuidraki, Hirose, Bachop, Hasegawe, Kunda, Nakamura, Gordon, Tanuma, Okubo, Smith, Joseph.
Replacements: Masuho, Yoshida, Murata, Ito, Sakuraba, Nakamichi, Sakata.
Referee: Joel Dume (France)

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