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USA, Japan Set To Meet In PNC Decider

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USA, Japan Set To Meet In PNC Decider

Photo by World Rugby.

Japan and USA have maintained their unbeaten starts to the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup 2019 to set up a title decider in their final match in Suva next weekend. 

AJ MacGinty starred for USA, kicking a last-minute penalty, and Rugby World Cup 2019 hosts Japan maintained their winning records with victories over Samoa and Tonga respectively. Fiji were the other winners in round two after overcoming Canada.

Japan and the USA will now face each other in a winner-takes-all meeting in Suva on 10 August to decide who will be Pacific Nations Cup 2019 champions.

The Eagles got round two underway with a slender 13-10 win over Samoa at ANZ Stadium in the Fijian capital as fly-half AJ MacGinty kicked his side to only their second ever win over the Pacific Island nation.

The USA defended really well in very difficult conditions, but also benefited from a mistake by referee Nigel Owens, who called back what seemed a sure Samoan try because he mistakenly thought there was a knock-on.

“It was a really tight contest and I'm not sure either team deserved to lose that," said USA captain Blaine Scully. "It was an 80-minute arm wrestle. We'll take a lot of lessons out of this match and hopefully learn from them next week.”

That result leaves Samoa second in Pool B, behind Japan who continued their preparations to host Rugby World Cup 2019 with a comfortable 41-7 defeat of Tonga at a sell-out Hanazono Rugby Stadium.

The venue, which will host four Rugby World Cup matches, demonstrated its readiness for the upcoming tournament, which starts on 20 September, welcoming a passionate crowd to cheer on the Brave Blossoms in their victory over Tonga.

Japan ran away 41-7 winners.

Japan captain Michael Leitch said: “We were able to achieve what we wanted to do so I would give eight out of 10 for tonight.” 

Japan attack coach Tony Brown added: “I thought the test match was a tough old battle. I just think then when we did score our tries we executed well.” 

Hanazono is one of 12 host venues across Japan that will welcome fans from around the world next month for the most impactful Rugby World Cup ever, and the first to take place in Asia.

Meanwhile, defending champions Fiji, who are set to finish the Pacific Nations Cup empty handed for the first time since 2014 after a first round loss to USA, recorded their maiden victory of this edition with a 38-13 win over Canada at home.

The final round of action takes place next weekend with Tonga lining up against Canada at Churchill Park in Lautoka, Fiji on Friday, before USA and Japan meet for the title decider on Saturday at ANZ Stadum in Suva, followed by the final match of the tournament between Fiji and Samoa at the same venue.