Akari Kato and fellow back Iroha Nagata scored a brace of tries apiece as Japan put an inexperienced Wales team to the sword in the first-ever test between the nations at Ystrad Mynach on Sunday.
After two narrow losses to Ireland in non-capped matches, the Asian champions continued their mini tour of Europe with an emphatic nine-try victory that will have made their Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 rivals sit up and take notice.
Japan crossed the Welsh try-line four times in the first half through impressive number eight Mateitoga Bogidraumainadave, Nagata and Kato before scoring again through the forwards on the stroke of half-time.
Winger Jess Kavanagh-Williams' try was Wales' only score in a first half that saw coach Rowland Phillips' side trail 23-5 at the break.
The Sakura 15s continued where they left off in the second half, as Nagata and Kato both grabbed their second tries within the first 10 minutes to give their side a 30-point advantage.
Yui Shiozaki and Saki Minami added their names to the scoresheet before Japan lost Bogidraumainadave to the sin-bin. Wales capitalised on their numerical advantage to score through Kelsey Jones, but Yuki Oyokawa ensured Japan had the final say with their ninth try right at the death.
With the three full rating points awarded to them for victory taking their total up to 64.32, Japan have now moved above the Netherlands, Portugal and Kazakhstan to a new high of 14th place in the rankings. Wales drop one to 10th as a result of the heavy loss on home soil with Italy the beneficiaries.
SMALL GAINS FOR TOP TWO
None of the four nations involved in the International Women’s Rugby Series have moved up or down in the rankings, although tournament hosts New Zealand and England did make marginal gains in their rating following Friday’s opening round wins over Canada and Australia.
Number one side New Zealand picked up just over a tenth from their 28-16 win to move to 93.55 points, while closest rivals England boosted their total by a fraction under half a point to 90.17 with a 52-10 defeat of Australia.
Canada remain in third place, with a slightly reduced total of 87.46 points, and sixth-placed Australia are now less than three points ahead of Spain after seeing their rating cut to 79.40.
The International Women's Rugby Series continues on Tuesday when New Zealand tackle trans-Tasman rivals Australia and England face Canada. The series is streamed live on worldrugby.org.
Photo credit: Tracey Lintern/Penallta Photographics
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