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Result: Wales 72-18 Japan


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By Rob Hodgetts


80 mins: TRY Wales 72-18 Japan
Wales end with a flourish. The pack rumble to within spitting distance before the ball flies out left and Shane Williams claims the score for a 34th Test try on the occasion of his 50th cap to go ahead of Ieuan Evans and into second behind Gareth Thomas (39) on Wales' all-time try-scoring list.

As a consolation, Japan seal the "try of the tournament" award. They ran more than 100 yards in going from the left corner to the right corner, so any potential challenger to the crown will have to race the full length and then go back and beat a few players a second time.

77 mins: Japan are trying to the end but they're just a bit outgunned here. They've certainly contributed to a lively match, though.

73 mins: TRY Wales 67-18 Japan
Flanker Martyn Williams scores his second, and if ever Wales run out of centres, he's their man. Ceri Sweeney spins a long pass out left and Williams hits the line at pace and is home and dry before Japan can say "sushi".

71 mins: Another Japanese interception as the Welsh backs throw more sloppy ball wide. Winger Hirotoki Onozawa hits the gas and is away but he doesn't have quite so much space as when he scored and is dragged down after making about 30 yards.

69 mins: Japan are stringing some good stuff together here, a bit like the way they finished in the narrow defeat to Fiji. They'll be a force in world rugby some day, you mark my words.

66 mins: Japan mount a good driving maul in Wales' 22. When the ball comes out, fly-half Bryce Robins bursts left and pops it behind him, hoping for a team-mate on the crash. But there's no-one there and he's made to look a bit silly.

63 mins: TRY Wales 60-18 Japan
Welsh open-side Martyn "Nugget" Williams scores a classic centre's try as he gives a little show of the ball outside and then accelerates through the gap to score from the 22. Ceri Sweeney converts.

60 mins: James Hook and Shane Williams contrive to show why they opted for rugby and not football. Wales press again and Hook kicks a bouncing ball but miscues. The flying Williams takes over and his hack on sees the ball soar into touch. Brilliant! That would have been Williams' 34th Test try.

"What a mess by Shane Williams. He's just missed the equivalent of an open goal."
Germooney on 606.

58 mins: TRY Wales 53-18 Japan
This is like basketball. Wales unleash a monster scrum and number eight Michael Owen feeds scrum-half Gareth Cooper who dives over on the blind side. After an agonising wait while the referee checks upstairs, the try is awarded. Ceri Sweeney drags his conversion left.

"It is really really annoying to get no coverage here in Sweden. Really really annoying. The match is on Radio Wales, but the rights are restricted. I mean, who the hell cares in Sweden apart from me? What's the point in restricting rights just to spite me? What have I done wrong?"
Southofgothenburg on 606.

56 mins: TRY Wales 48-18 Japan
Japan are deadly when they sniff a gap and from an interception from Alix Popham, wing Hirotoki Onozawa outpaces the entire Welsh back line to hare 60 yards and score under the posts. Shotaro Onishi converts.

52 mins: TRY Wales 48-11 Japan
Wales are running rampant now and have a few bashes at the line before Stephen Jones puts over Dafydd James. Jones converts and is then replaced by Ceri Sweeney.

"Come on Wales, you should've played like this from the start."
Rakaroo on 606. 50 mins: Stephen Jones thinks he's Mike Phillips and bursts through the middle, his legs pumping like jackhammers as he tries to race clear. The support catches him but Wales edge deeper into Japan territory with a line-out just short of the line on the right. Japan centre Yuta Imamura is stretchered off after putting in a big tackle.

48 mins: TRY Wales 41-11 Japan
Now that really was special. Mike Phillips thinks he's Gareth Edwards and is playing like him. He chips over the top, catches his own ball, crashes through some tackles, flings it wide and Shane Williams scuttles over for a try in the right corner.

47 mins: "Wales making a lot of mistakes. Japan not lying down and rolling ove. Really putting in some big hits. Japan's try was fantastic."
Misterarmchairpundit on 606.

44 mins: Japan might be down and out but they're a well-organised side which is credit to coach John Kirwan. They probably lack a bit of nous and definitely some muscle at this level. But they enjoy some pressure in Wales' half before the men in red launch a promising counter through Mike Phillips, Alix Popham and Kevin Morgan.

42 mins: TRY Wales 36-11 Japan
Mike Phillips is the man. He's made a sensational start to the second half and slices over the line for Wales' fifth try. If that's what a half-time orange does for him, he should eat a few before kick-off.

41 mins: Here we go then. Forty more minutes for both sides to change the course of their World Cup. The Taranaki-born Bryce Robins kicks off for Japan. Wales turn it over, Mike Phillips' shows and goes through the middle and feeds James Hook. The magician can't quite conjure a handy team-mate and the ball bounces free. Japan breathe a huge sigh of relief.

40 mins: TRY Wales 29-11 Japan
Mike Phillips' chip over the top just bounces the wrong way for Shane Williams and that looks like that for the half. But Wales keep it alive, spread it left through the hands and full-back Kevin Morgan jinks over for a good try and a crucial bonus point. A hammer blow for Japan, though. Stephen Jones misses with his conversion and that is half-time.

37 mins: Wales do a nice line in flat, wide passes but this time the attack is more bluster than blood. Japan turn it over and scrum-half Tomoki Yoshida finds touch in Wales' half.

34 mins: PENALTY Wales 24-11 Japan
Japan enjoy a few brief moments of possession in Wales' half but when they break left Duncan Jones spoils well. But Rhys Thomas infringes and Japan win a penalty which centre Shotaro Onishi thumps over well from the left.

31 mins: TRY Wales 24-8 Japan
From the line-out on the left, Wales hooker Rhys Thomas takes a short ball and rumbles over from close range, hugging the ball like it was his first-born. Stephen Jones converts as Wales edge away inexorably from their opponents.

28 mins: Wales go close again, only for Shane William's chip over the top to bounce into the wrong hands. Japan left wing Hirotoki Onozawa launches an audacious counter around the back of his own posts and makes good ground before he is felled. Wales recycle and Stephen Jones lamps it back into the corner. There's no let up for Japan.

26 mins: James Hook carves another great hole through the Japanese midfield but the move breaks down with just one pass needed to get under the posts. Should have been another try, that.

23 mins: TRY Wales 17-8 Japan
Marvellous stuff! James Hook shows what a magician he can be. Wales break up the left side and Hook throws a huge dummy back inside, fooling most of the Millennium Stadium, the whole of the Japanese back line and, yes, this observer as well. Hook scampers home for a quality score as Wales edge clear. Stephen Jones converts.

22 mins: PENALTY 10-8 Japan
Wales earn a penalty on the Japanese 22 and Stephen Jones notches an easy three-pointer.

18 mins: TRY Wales 7-8 Japan Only one word for that - awesome rugby! If that was Wales, people would be eulogising over it for years. Wales lose the ball from a five-yard scrum in their right corner and Japan break out up the left flank. The Japanese flyers fling wide passes to the right in quick succession and wing Kosuke Endo scores the current try of the tournament in the right corner. Shotaro Onishi misses with his conversion.

16 mins: Wales are prising open a few gaps and Waltzing Shane Williams gets a chance to warm up his feet with a little snipe up the right flank. The ball goes dead and from the line-out, Wales burrow over the line, only for Japan to turn it over. The clearance kick is charged down and Alun Wyn Jones pounces on it but the ball had hit the referee so no try is awarded.

15 mins: Japan stand-off Bryce Robins changes things with a little dink over the top but his team-mate can't hang onto the ball and Wales are able to snuff out the first real threat.

13 mins: Cries of "Wales, Wales" ring around the stadium but they are a bit shortlived as their boys give away a penalty and allow Japan to ease the pressure.

10 mins: TRY Wales 7-3
Wales keep pressing and Shane Williams and then James Hook try to break through on their own in the face of some stout Japan defending. Wales trundle through some phases and look to have blown it as Japan clear before Jamie Robinson's kick is deflected by a Japanese hand. Wales are thus played onside and Stephen Jones picks up, feeds Dafydd James who finds Alun Wyn Jones on the right wing. Try. Jones converts.

7 mins: Alun Wyn Jones wins a good line-out on the left but Japan draw a clever infringement and receive a scrum from which they clear the ball.

6 mins: It's a slightly muted atmosphere inside the ground but the noise rises when Mike Phillips sneaks over the gain line in midfield. Wales win a penalty but they opt to pump it to the corner.

5 mins: Wales edge back into the Japanese half and Colin Charvis makes some hard yards ball-carrying before Japan clear their lines, for now.

3 mins: PENALTY Wales 0-3 Japan
Japan win an early penalty and centre Shotaro Onishi slots a good kick from the right side of the field.

2 min: Wales win some ball in midfield and spread it right, laying down an early signal of their intent. But Shane Williams, winning his 50th cap, spills the ball twice in quick succession.

2000: And we're off, as Welsh fly-half Stephen Jones hoists the ball high into the Japanese half.

1956: The serene Japanese anthem rings out and the pockets of support join in and wave flags enthusiastically. Coach John Kirwan makes a few mouth movements, though whether you can call it joining in is debatable. Wales' anthem follows, but you'll hear more rousing versions.

1950: The roof is closed in Cardiff and the Millennium Stadium is only about half full, if that, with large swathes of empty seating.

1930: Right then, Wales are up next against the "Brave Blossoms" of Japan and Cardiff is buzzing with expectation.

Japan are no pushovers but Gareth Jenkins' men will be hoping to entertain the home crowd with some of their trademark "sexy" rugby. The Millennium Stadium faithful will be licking their lips at the prospect of a try-fest to restore some confidence.

But has Japan coach John Kirwan got something special up his sleeve? Not long now until we find out.

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