Thursday, August 1, 2019

Pacific Nations Cup - Round 2 Preview

USA Eagles and Japan head their respective pools in 2019 RWC-clipped competition. Second set of fixtures will take place on Fiji, at ANZ Stadium (Samoa v USA and Fiji v Canada), and on the largest of the Japanese Home Islands, Honshu, at the HRS in Higashiosaka City.

Eagles will take on Japan’s close-trailer, Manu Samoa, at ANZ Stadium in Suva at 10:30pm MST tomorrow night (Friday in the Rocky Mountain Region, while it’s Saturday on t’other side of the International Dateline). USA will like a happy ending here to maintain the ordering seat at the pool table, while a bad result could dislodge them. This is the middle distance regards preparations for 2019 Rugby World Cup. Most likely 80% of those rostered for both XVs on this day will be saddling up for the trip to Japan next month - 50 days 1st fixture, giddyap!

Eagles routed Canada in Colorado first round and will be looking to build on that momentum; Manu Samoa required comeback from 3-10 halftime deficit in the notso ideal slop at Apia, but they did so with aplomb, grounding twice in the final 10 minutes for the result.

Fiji, a bit off their form last week against a determined Brave Blossoms XV, must regain that pace and it will be at the expense of Canada in the match to follow MS-US in Suva tomorrow evening, MST. Canada seemed ill-prepared for the intensity that their North American rivals brought to the pitch in Colorado last time out; the Men of the True North best be better suited up this round.

Japan has got a serious closer in SA-born (Pretoria) Kotaro 
Matsushima. The hotstepping Suntory Sungoliath flyer finished a brace for Brave Blossoms v Fiji, is tied for the lead in tournament try totals with Fijian number two Sam Matavesi, and is primed to add to that number v Tonga on the RugbyDay at Hanazono Rugby Stadium.

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