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Last Updated: Monday, 27 October, 2003, 13:41 GMT
Japan left feeling frustrated
Japan take a well-earned bow at the final whistle
Japan take a well-earned bow at the final whistle in Gosford

Japan's 39-26 defeat to the USA has left their management team frustrated at the end of an entertaining but ultimately fruitless campaign.

The Cherry Blossoms, who played with attacking verve in all their matches, never recovered from an early 14-point deficit despite their best efforts.

Fly-half Andy Miller missed with a long-range penalty, that fell short, after his team had drawn to within a point.

That was as close as they got to the Eagles before going down by 13 points in their final World Cup match.

"It's frustrating that we always let the opposition get a good lead before we start playing," said Mark Ella, Japan's assistant coach.

"They have certainly come a long way," the Australian added.

"They have the potential to go further, but it will take a lot of hard work."

Japan have won plenty of support in their four matches in Australia and the crowd in Gosford was fully behind them.

Toru Kurihari scored a try in a 21-point haul, with star winger Daisuke Ohata also crossing for a touchdown, before the USA pulled away in the final minutes.

Like Ella, coach Shogo Mukai was left frustrated, but it was the competition schedule that he felt was the cause for the defeat and his team conceding late points.

"In the last 10 to 20 minutes we ran out of gas and our defense broke down," Mukai said.

"The match was the toughest we've played," he added.

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