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BBC Sport's Nick Webb in Japan
"Wales can count this tour a success."
 real 14k

Sunday, 17 June, 2001, 10:41 GMT 11:41 UK
Wales deliver on Far Eastern promise
Wales celebrate after beating Japan in the second Test
Wales celebrate a 2-0 Test series victory over Japan
When it mattered, Wales delivered.

A point down to Japan at half-time, they once again turned on the style in the second Test to run out convincing winners - as they had done in the first encounter last Sunday.

Coach Lynn Howells said that he would give the younger players a chance on this tour.

But after two defeats, one against a club side, it was time for the more experienced heads to underline the gulf in quality between Welsh and Japanese rugby.

No surprise then that the most experienced of the Wales players, Cardiff wing Gareth Thomas, was the top point scorer in the 53-30 triumph here in Tokyo.


We had experience in the pack and that proved effective
  Wales captain Andy Moore
Thomas and Tom Shanklin, earning his first cap out of position on the opposite flank, ran in five of Wales' eight tries to avoid a potential banana-skin with the scores at 20-19 at half-time.

Scrum-half Gareth Cooper will be looking for a chance to continue his good work in the autumn internationals after a solid performance.

Cooper was the catalyst for Wales' second half surge, alongside centres Stephen Jones and Shane Williams, who gave Japan a lesson in the art of running with the ball.

Home full-back Hirotoki Onozawa was on several occasions called on to make desperate last-ditch tackles as the Welsh backline threatened to run riot.

Japanese captain Masaaki Sakata admitted that his side lost their way in the second half.

"After our late first-half rally, we thought we were in with a shout, but we lost concentration and suffered from a lack of communication."

Welsh captain Andrew Moore was happy with the way his players responded to the early setbacks: "In the second half we put a stranglehold on the game.

"We had experience in the pack and that proved effective."

Wales scrum half Gareth Cooper
Scrum half Gareth Cooper showed touches of class
Stand-out performances in the forward-line included a combative display from Cardiff lock Craig Quinnell.

He who was cautioned for stamping in the first five minutes, but was a constant ball-winner.

Howells will be happy to have blooded many younger players and come away with easy victories in the Test games despite missing several players who are on the Lions tour.

However, this is Japan, where rugby is about as widely played as karate is in Wales.

So it might be best to keep the perspective of JJ Williams, who watched the game today after playing in the last Welsh tour of Japan in 1975.

"The Wales team of 1975 was one of the great teams of its time," he said.

"This Welsh side wouldn't compete with them," he said.

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