Birthday boy Siale Piutau dedicated a fitting Tonga swansong to his late sister after the Pacific Islanders beat the United States 31-19 in their final match of the Rugby World Cup.

The Tonga captain celebrated turning 34 on Sunday by scoring a try and slotting over the first conversion he has ever taken in a man-of-the-match performance at Hanazono Rugby Stadium.

A first win of the tournament ensured it was the USA rather than Tonga who finished bottom of Pool C.

Piutau was carried off the field by his team-mates after the game before paying tribute to his sister Ema, who lost her battle with stomach cancer in April.

"It’s been a tough journey, but all this has been done in her memory." said Piutau.

The centre added: "The boys have given me the best birthday possible. It's been a great honour to represent this jersey."

Piutau was relieved to hit the target after Telusa Veainu's bonus-point score as he was concerned that his final international appearance would be remembered for a different reason.

"I didn't want to take it [the conversion], but they insisted, and I certainly didn't want to miss it because I would have become an online meme." said Piutau.

The USA finished a second successive World Cup without picking up a point, having been 12-7 up at half-time.

Coach Gary Gold said: "It's pretty raw right now, but if it shows anything it's just how bloody difficult it is to win a game at the Rugby World Cup.

"The margin is very small between being competitive and getting a result."

 

 

Captain Greig Laidlaw will consider his Scotland future after Japan denied his team a place in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.

The 34-year-old scrum-half could not inspire the Scots to a Yokohama victory as they slumped 28-21 to the tournament hosts, who go on to face South Africa in the last eight.

World Cup failure can often lead to casualties, and the likes of Laidlaw and coach Gregor Townsend can expect scrutiny.

But while Townsend was vague about his intentions, albeit appearing to indicate he intends to stay at the helm for next year's Six Nations, Laidlaw was slightly less guarded.

Given his age, it is hardly surprising such a big-tournament disappointment would lead to a moment of reflection.

Laidlaw shed tears once Scotland's elimination was confirmed, saying: "It's so difficult. It's straight after the game. It's not about me at this moment in time. It's about the team."

But Laidlaw will assess over the coming weeks whether there remains life in his international career.

"I'll go away and take time and have a think and speak to the people I need to speak to, and then see what happens after that," he said. "But tonight it's about staying together as a group and for the group to learn why we're in this situation."

Townsend was also asked about his future in the post-match news conference. After two and a half years in charge, the former Glasgow Warriors boss saw hopes of success on the global stage foiled, with Scotland tumbling out in the pool stage for just the second time.

At one stage, Japan were four tries to one ahead of the Scots, and the final margin arguably flattered Townsend's men, who also lost their opening game to Ireland.

Townsend was asked whether he may have taken the team as far as he could, and responded: "There's a lot more in this team. Experiences are what make you as a group, and how you react to those experiences.

"That was a unique situation we were in tonight. We knew it was always going to be a challenge given the way Japan were playing and given our turnaround.

"But we had the team and we had the ability at the start of that game to go on and win it by the necessary amount of points. That we didn't is hugely disappointing and we'll have to learn from that.

"You don't get another shot in a World Cup for four years, but we've got to improve as we hit our next tournament which will be the Six Nations in a few months' time."

Kenki Fukuoka, who was presented with the man-of-the-match award by tennis star Naomi Osaka, grabbed two tries as Scotland were too easily opened up.

Townsend's assessment of the performance laid bare Scotland's inadequacies over the 80 minutes.

Townsend said: "In the first half we didn't get enough possession. And the second half we did have much more possession and the effort the players put in was heroic at times. We had to defend our line, we had to get back upfield, but we just didn't make the most of our chances.

"It would have been a great comeback win but Japan deserve it today. They played really well in that first 50, 60 [minutes] and they're a very good team."

Michael Leitch and Jamie Joseph dedicated Japan's terrific Rugby World Cup win over Scotland to victims of Typhoon Hagibis and the grieving families.

The hosts triumphed 28-21 in Yokohama, sparking jubilant scenes as they reached the quarter-finals of the tournament for the first time.

Japan have won four matches from four at their home tournament and, as Pool A winners, they go on to face South Africa next Sunday in Tokyo, with rugby fever gripping the country.

This has otherwise been a grim weekend in Japan, though, as the deadly tropical storm has claimed more than 20 lives, according to local reports, with many others missing and considerable damage done to property.

"It's a tough time at the moment with the typhoon and all, but I'd like to thank everyone that made this game happen, and for everyone that's suffering at the moment with the typhoon, this game was for you guys," said Japan captain Leitch.

"The crowd was massive for us. Our hearts go out to all the people who are suffering."

Coach Joseph said: "You can look around and see how special a moment this is for our team and for this country.

"Before I talk about the footy, I really want to acknowledge the families who've lost people in the typhoon today. That's really motivated our team. We talked about that this morning as a group. The players really wanted to play."

Leitch said he was "very, very proud" of Japan's achievement, after they blazed to a 28-7 lead and resisted a Scotland fightback in impressive fashion.

"From the very start, we played with our heart," Leitch said. "Today was nothing about skill. It was all about emotion and physicality and I think we showed that today.

"We’re going to give it everything in the next couple of games."

If Japan are to still have a "couple of games" to play, they must overcome the Springboks - as they famously did four years ago in Brighton in a victory that has provided the springboard to success for this impressive new generation.

Coach Joseph enthused about the latest performance, saying: "My team, for all the World Cup really, we've prepared really, really well and put their bodies on the line every weekend. But tonight they went [up] another level, I felt.

"They gave everything they possibly could. Everyone from our most experienced player to our least experienced gave 150 per cent."

When the final whistle was blown on an emotional night in Yokohama, it was evident from the joy on the players' faces that magnificent Japan's history-making triumph over Scotland was about more than rugby.

Typhoon Hagibis left a trail of death and mass destruction with ferocious winds and record-breaking rainfall after hitting landfall south of Tokyo on Saturday.

There was uncertainty over whether the decisive Pool A showdown between the host nation and Scotland would go ahead on Sunday, but the green light was given following a safety inspection on the morning of the game at Yokohama International Stadium.

What followed was 80 minutes of thrilling action as Japan reached the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals for the first time.

Scottish Rugby had talked of taking legal action if the blockbuster contest was cancelled, given they needed a victory to have any chance of being consigned to an early exit.

Instead they may be launching an internal inquest after Gregor Townsend's side went down 28-21 in a pulsating battle.

The stadium was not damaged by the biggest typhoon to hit the Asian nation for decades and a raucous sold-out crowd cheered their team to glorious new ground.

Jamie Joseph's side played with incredible intensity from start to finish, defended stoically and showed their class with ball in hand to set up a meeting with South Africa in Tokyo next Sunday.

The Brave Blossoms waded through knee-high waters to train on the eve of a match that they were not sure would go ahead and although Scotland fought back in the second half, they could not prevent the hosts from advancing.

Japan were relentless after Finn Russell's early try, Kotaro Matsushima whipping their exuberant supporters into frenzy with his fifth try of the tournament.

Keita Inagaki raised the decibels even higher by putting them in front and Scotland looked to be out on their feet after the lethal Kenki Fukuoka - scorer of the only try against Ireland - touched down either side of half-time.

Scotland were struggling to cope with their opponents' expansive style of play; the power, speed and skill of Japan leaving their hopes of qualifying hanging by a thread.

Yet two tries in the space of five minutes from WP Nel and Zander Ferguson threatened to spoil the party, Russell pulling the strings as the tension mounted.

The hosts laid it all on the line as Scotland threw everything at them in an attempt to tear up the script and break Japan hearts.

Joseph's men were not to be denied, though, holding on to make it four wins out of four and secure top spot on a weekend that will be remembered for such contrasting reasons.

Japan left Scotland standing with an electrifying performance in Yokohama that carried them through to the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals for the first time.

Playing 21st century rugby against a side that looked bereft of invention until the jig was up, Japan roared to a 28-21 victory and set up a showdown with South Africa next Sunday in Tokyo.

South Africa, then. Even if it had not been for the Miracle of Brighton four years ago, the Springboks would have good reason to be fearful of these Brave Blossoms.

But Japan's stunning victory over the Boks in their last World Cup meeting will colour the build-up to that game, and based on this showing the Rugby Championship winners could have their hands full.

Four wins out of four is Japan's record as hosts, with tries from Kotaro Matsushima, Keita Inagaki, Kenki Fukuoka propelling them to a 21-7 half-time lead, and another from Fukuoka early in the second half effectively sealing the deal.

Scotland had threatened legal action if this match did not go ahead, which was a concern after the deadly Typhoon Hagibis caused havoc in Japan.

But if there was relief in the Scottish camp that it would be played, when that announcement came earlier on Sunday, they only briefly looked capable of securing the handsome win they needed to pip their opponents to a place in the last eight.

Finn Russell darted in for a seventh-minute try, finding a gap as Japan's defence showed early fragility, and Greig Laidlaw booted the extras.

From then on, though, Scotland were largely camped in their own half, Japan sensational in attack. Matsushima sprinted in from the left wing after an offload from fellow wing Fukuoka for Japan's first try - his fifth of this World Cup - in the 18th minute.

William Tupou burst through a line of Scottish defence before feeding Inagaki to surge over from close range for the second try eight minutes later, and Japan were rewarded with a third on the stroke of half-time, Fukuoka collecting a perfect grubber from Timothy Lafaele.

Yu Tamura added conversions to each try. Had he not missed a pair of penalties, Scotland would have been out of the contest.

When Fukuoka wrested the ball from enemy hands and scorched through from midfield for Japan's fourth try in the 43rd minute, the home side had a bonus point in the bag and Scotland needed the mother of all fightbacks.

WP Nel burrowed over for a swift Scottish response, and Zander Fagerson powered through for a third Scottish try.

It is so often the hope that kills Scottish sport fans. At 28-21 in arrears, here was hope. But as the minutes ticked by, with Japan holding firm and the Scots increasingly desperate, needing a slew of scores, so the points dried up.

Scotland face a long trip home. Japan's journey at their home World Cup continues.

 

Wing wonders look match for anyone

Matsushima and Fukuoka were irrepressible for Japan, with their pace, opportunism and inventive raiding on the wings at times embarrassing Scotland. South Africa will need to be on their toes next weekend, and will surely handle the Japan dangermen better than the Scots managed.

 

Tier two? Not for long

How Japan build on this World Cup will be intriguing. Until the 2015 tournament they had just one victory from seven World Cup appearances, but now they are making winning a habit. They look a side worthy of being reclassified as a tier-one outfit, and days such as this will only strengthen the rugby culture in the nation.

 

What's next?

Japan will face South Africa in Tokyo next Sunday, meaning Ireland must face the All Blacks next Saturday. Scotland return home to lick their wounds.

Wales coach Warren Gatland and captain Justin Tipuric bemoaned a host of wasteful moments before their side closed out an uneven 35-13 Rugby World Cup victory over Uruguay.

The Six Nations Grand Slam-winners booked a quarter-final showdown against France with four wins out of four in Pool D, but they were made to work by an industrious Uruguay side.

Following a tournament-opening win over Fiji, the South Americans were able to sniff an even bigger shock when they went in only 7-6 behind at the interval.

But Josh Adams' fifth try of the World Cup and efforts from Tomos Williams and Gareth Davies alongside a penalty try and Nicky Smith's first-half score amounted to a comfortable margin of victory in the end.

"I'm happy with four from four but not too happy with some of tonight," Gatland said.

"We were poor at times, not clinical, too many turnovers in that first half and probably blew about four or five chances.

"But the boys showed a little bit of character and in the second half we started being a bit more direct. We were probably trying to play a bit too much rugby

"They're a tough outfit, they're tenacious, make the tackles and they're a tidy little side.

"We probably didn't respect the ball enough, a lot of turnovers and then second half we were more direct and earned the right to play. We were a bit better."

In Tipuric's assessment, Wales were even more profligate.

"We know we've got to do a lot better than that but we came away with a bonus-point win," he said.

"Uruguay didn't stop from the beginning to the end. They're a tough bunch of boys. We know that we probably left five or six tries out there as well."

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny landed four conversions and was named man of the match.

"We just got a bit loose at times, didn't keep hold of the ball. But once we kept the ball, we put them under pressure and eventually converted that pressure into points," Halfpenny said.

"At half-time the message was, 'Let's look after the ball, let's not panic'. We felt in control, we were just spilling the ball."

Josh Adams scored his fifth try of the Rugby World Cup as Wales beat Uruguay 35-13 at Kumamoto Stadium to set up a quarter-final against France.

Warren Gatland's side made hard work of sealing top spot in Pool D, but scored five tries to ensure they will face Les Bleus at Oita Stadium next Sunday, while Australia will meet England at the same venue 24 hours earlier.

Nicky Smith scored the only five-pointer of the first half and Adams become the outright leading try-scorer in the tournament after the break, with Tomos Williams and Gareth Davies also crossing after Wales were awarded a penalty try. 

Uruguay were magnificent in defence as they bowed out with a spirited performance, German Kessler scoring their only try and Felipe Berchesi notching eight points with the boot.

Hallam Amos had three tries ruled out, but Wales made it four wins out of four to finish three points clear of the Wallabies despite being a long way from their best, Halfpenny converting four times in a man-of-the-match display.

Wales were disjointed in the opening stages but were eventually rewarded for applying huge pressure when prop Smith breached a resolute Uruguay defence, powering over from close range after 16 minutes.

Berchesi reduced the deficit to four points with a fine strike from the tee after Halfpenny converted Smith's score, and Amos was denied Wales' second try due to a forward pass from Hadleigh Parkes.

Handling errors prevented the Six Nations champions from getting into a rhythm and a second Berchesi penalty made it 7-6 at the break.

The clinical in-form Adams gave Wales breathing space when he took an inviting pass from Rhys Patchell to finish in the corner, Halfpenny expertly nailing a difficult conversion.

Amos had another score disallowed, again for a forward pass from Parkes, but referee Angus Gardner awarded Wales a penalty try when Uruguay were unable to legally stop a driving maul after Santiago Civetta was sin-binned.

Kessler had a moment to remember when he dived over with a pick-and-go before Williams picked up a loose ball to grab the bonus-point try, with Halfpenny converting superbly.

Amos was frustrated again when he lost control as he went to touch down, but Davies raced away long after the clock had turned red to go under the posts and Halfpenny converted, leaving the scoreline looking harsh on Uruguay.

Canada players took to the streets of Kamaishi to help with recovery efforts after Typhoon Hagibis prevented them facing Namibia in the Rugby World Cup on Sunday.

World Rugby and the Japan 2019 Organising Committee cancelled the final Pool B match on safety grounds after one of the most powerful storms for decades swept through the country.

Although Canada were unable to end the tournament with a first victory at Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium, they rolled their sleeves up for physical endeavours off the field.

Players headed out to assist with the clean-up operation in a city that was battered by torrential rain and fierce winds over the weekend.

A tweet from Rugby World Cup showed a video clip of members of the squad helping locals and hailed the players for "showing the true value of the game."

Tonga avoided finishing bottom of Pool C at the Rugby World Cup after overcoming the United States 31-19 on Sunday.

With both teams already eliminated, Tonga bowed out on a winning note by scoring four tries to USA's three in Higashiosaka.

Tonga trailed USA 12-7 at half-time after substitute Mike Te'o had grabbed a brace shortly after coming on.

But Tonga rallied to snap a run of five consecutive losses, which was their joint-worst streak at a World Cup.

Tonga started brightly and opened the scoring in the 17th minute thanks to Siegfried Fisiihoi, who bundled himself over after some desperate USA defending had initially held up the Tongans – with Sonatane Takulua adding the extras.

However, Tonga's 7-0 lead was short-lived as USA responded in brilliant fashion four minutes later.

USA sliced Tonga open – quick hands finding Te'o, who was too slick for his opponents on the wing and AJ MacGinty nailed the conversion to level proceedings.

Te'o was at it again in the 26th minute as USA turned the match on its head. The wing found himself in acres of space to stroll in, though MacGinty was unable to convert.

Tonga trailed 12-7 at the break after a golden opportunity went begging – Fisiihoi broke the lines but Ruben de Haas reached in for a tackle and broke the ball loose with five minutes remaining.

It was a Tonga onslaught to start the second half as they looked to strike back, and they reduced the deficit via Takulua's 51st-minute penalty.

Tonga regained the lead as the hour mark approached as Telusa Veainu's kick forward, with no one ahead, bounced favourably and allowed Mali Hingano to eventually sprint clear under the sticks.

After Takulua successfully converted, the tiring Americans conceded again four minutes later as retiring captain Siale Piutau weaved his way past three opponents to stretch Tonga's advantage to 24-12.

Tony Lamborn's late try set up a grand-stand finish but Veainu's five-pointer after the siren made sure of Tonga's first victory of this year's tournament.

 

Tonga send Piutau out a winner

In his final international match, 34-year-old Piutau scored a try and celebrated a victory in a dream Tonga farewell.

Te'o double not enough for USA

A pair of first-half tries from Te'o had USA dreaming against Tonga. However, his efforts were not enough as the United States matched their worst run in World Cup games – 10 straight defeats.

What's next?

Both teams are heading home after a spirited effort at the showpiece tournament, with England and France qualifying from Pool C.

Scotland's crucial Rugby World Cup clash with hosts Japan will go ahead as scheduled following the passing of Typhoon Hagibis.

Sunday's Pool A fixture in Yokohama was under threat of cancellation with the severe storm approaching Japan's east coast, bringing extreme winds and torrential downpours.

Three World Cup fixtures had already been wiped out, with Sunday's Pool B match between Namibia and Canada cancelled due to the impact of the typhoon in Kamaishi.

However, quarter-final hopefuls Scotland will take to the field to face Japan at Yokohama International Stadium, World Rugby and Japan Rugby 2019 Organising Committee announced on the day of the game.

"The decision was taken following a comprehensive assessment of the venue and associated infrastructure on Sunday morning in partnership with the Host City," a statement read.

"World Rugby and the Japan Rugby 2019 Organising Committee would like to thank everyone involved for their significant efforts to enable the match to be played as scheduled following one of [the] largest and most powerful typhoons to hit Japan in recent years."

With the game going ahead, it opens up a number of permutations as there are try-scoring and losing bonus points up for grabs, but if the teams should finish level in the group Scotland would progress on the basis of winning the head-to-head contest.

Japan occupy second position behind Ireland in Pool A with three wins from as many games, four points clear of Scotland as the quarter-finals loom.

Lyon racked up an impressive seventh win from as many Top 14 matches this season and champions Toulouse earned a timely win against Castres.

Jean-Marc Doussain impressed with the boot, kicking 17 points as Lyon outclassed Pau 27-8 at the Matmut Stadium.

Rudi Wulf scored a first-minute try and Baptiste Couilloud also touched down in an easy victory for the hosts.

Thomas Ramos was a surprise inclusion for Toulouse despite having been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup for France last week and was part of a team that saw off Castres 36-15.

Zack Holmes nailed 21 points with the boot, while Matthis Lebel, Lucas Tauzin and Gillian Galan scored tries as Toulouse jumped from 13th to seventh.

In other matches, third-placed Bayonne edged Montpellier 28-24, La Rochelle crushed struggling Brive 41-17 and Racing 92 drew 27-27 with Agen.

Namibia and Canada's final Pool B match at the Rugby World Cup has been cancelled due to the impact of Typhoon Hagibis.

Both teams were aiming to claim a first win of the tournament in Japan, but the tropical storm – one of the most powerful to hit the country in decades – means Sunday's match in Kamaishi will not go ahead.

New Zealand's match against Italy and England's clash with France, both of which were due to take place on Saturday, were cancelled on Thursday. Italy's slim chance of reaching the quarter-finals was ended by the decision.

The crucial Pool A fixture between Japan and Scotland has also come under threat, with Gregor Townsend's team needing a bonus-point victory to be sure of progression.

A pitch inspection was due to decide the fate of Sunday's Yokohama contest. In the result of a cancelled fixture the score would be classed as 0-0, resulting in Scotland going out of the competition and Japan progressing to the last eight for the first time.

Scottish Rugby has threatened legal action in such a scenario.

However, World Rugby said in a statement that it hoped Sunday's remaining fixtures, including the Japan-Scotland match, would go ahead as planned.

World Rugby chief operating officer and tournament director Alan Gilpin said: "We remain optimistic that Sunday's remaining matches will go ahead as scheduled in Kumamoto, Hanazono and Yokohama, which are much further south and therefore outside of the impact of the storm conditions this morning."

Glasgow Warriors secured a first win of the Pro14 season at the third attempt, while Scarlets continued their perfect start to the campaign on Saturday.

Last season's finalists Glasgow held off the challenge of Cardiff Blues 17-13 at Scotstoun, with early tries from Callum Gibbins and Nick Frisby proving decisive, as they put defeats to Cheetahs and Scarlets behind them.

Aled Summerhill's score on the break brought Cardiff back into it, but the Blues did not show enough in the second half to fight their way back into the game.

Scarlets crushed Zebre 54-10 in a bonus-point triumph in Llanelli that leaves them top of Conference B in the embryonic Pro14 standings.

Kieran Hardy and Johnny McNicholl each dotted down twice and Josh Macleod, Ryan Conbeer, Taylor Davies and Josh Helps all registered in the rout.

Ulster were a class above Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth, John Cooney scoring two tries in an emphatic 42-17 victory for the Irish province.

Rounding out the action, hooker Sam Parry celebrated a hat-trick of tries as Ospreys overcame Benetton Treviso 24-20.

Coach Steve Jackson says Samoa will do everything in their power to help Bundee Aki avoid a suspension for his red card in Ireland's emphatic Rugby World Cup win over the Pacific Islanders.

Aki was dismissed for a dangerous tackle on Ulupano Seuteni after 29 minutes of the Pool A encounter at Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium on Saturday.

Ireland went on to dish out a 47-5 hammering and set up a quarter-final against New Zealand or South Africa next weekend, but they may have to do without Aki - who is of Samoan descent.

Jackson has called for the centre to be spared any further punishment, as he did not intend to strike Seuteni in the head with his shoulder.

"I've known Bundee for a long time and know what a great man he is, he's got a great character and he doesn't go out there to do that to anybody," said Jackson.

"Hopefully the powers that be see some sense and hopefully he gets to continue on in this tournament.

"We'll do everything we possibly can from a Samoan perspective to make sure he gets on that field next week."

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt is not optimistic Aki will be available for selection next weekend.

"Any further participation in the tournament is now at risk... we know there is a very hard line," the New Zealander said.

"It's a really tough situation. I think Bundee is upright, you can see both his hands behind the shoulder blades of the player who's just starting to come up and it's all split-second stuff.

"We live in hope and we'll see what the judiciary decide, but once it's a red card you sense a loss of control over what happens next no matter what you try to present."

Joe Schmidt will seek "reasoning" for Bundee Aki's red card after the centre was dismissed in a 47-5 drubbing of Samoa that sealed Ireland's place in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.

Aki was ordered off by referee Nic Berry after 29 minutes for a tackle on Ulupano Seuteni at Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium, where Ireland needed a bonus-point win to be assured of a place in the last eight on Saturday.

Ireland were already in command at that stage following tries from captain Rory Best, Tadhg Furlong and Johnny Sexton.

Sexton's second try secured the bonus point just before half-time and Ireland dominated the second period, with Jordan Larmour, CJ Stander and Andrew Conway also going over.

Aki is set to be suspended for a quarter-final clash with either New Zealand or South Africa next weekend and head coach Schmidt was left with a bittersweet feeling after watching his side secure their passage from Pool A. 

"We're obviously happy with the result and with a number of things about the performance, but we're obviously disappointed we didn't manage to finish the game with 15 players and we'll look at that and try to come up with what we believe is some reasoning behind that," said the New Zealander.

"I'll have to review it and have a really close look. I rate Nic Berry, I think he's a very good referee, the TMO tonight Rowan Kitt is a very good operator so it's hard to argue at the moment, but it's pretty devastating for Bundee.

"He knows a lot of the Samoan players very well, I know they've got a lot of respect for him. For us it's really disappointing."

Skipper Best was proud of the way Ireland coped with being a man down.

"We've overcome red cards before, it's never ideal but I think it shows a lot of character about the squad, if you go down a man, how you adapt to that," said the hooker.

"Ultimately there was no panic, there was a lot of collective and we continued to attack them."

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