November 5, 2017 / 3:19 AM / in a year

Rugby-Japan's Joseph wants to keep opposition strong

YOKOHAMA, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Coach Jamie Joseph wants Japan to keep playing the best opposition available despite giving up nine tries in a 63-30 trouncing at the hands of 2015 World Cup runners-up Australia on Saturday.

The result made it seven defeats out of seven against top-tier nations over the last two seasons for the Brave Blossoms, who will host the Rugby World Cup in just under two years.

New Zealander Joseph said he thought his side had improved in the second half, when they scored three tries of their own, and asked the Japanese public for patience.

“Obviously, against tier-one teams one of the questions I keep asking are, are we better off preparing for the World Cup playing weaker teams?” he said.

“The answer to that is obviously no, we are better prepared when we play the stronger teams. Therefore when we play the stronger teams we need an element of patience from our public and the fans.”

Australia fielded four Fiji-born backs and they provided the bulk of Australia’s scores with centre Tevita Kuridrani grabbing a hat-trick, his centre partner Samu Kerevi crossing twice and winger Henry Speight adding another.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has also been looking to increase his stocks of big forwards and Joseph thought size had made a difference.

“The big area where we struggled was competing against bigger players,” he added.

“The Australian players were clearly bigger than us and able to offload a lot more. It is obviously a challenge for us when we play the tier-one countries.

“It’s important to remember that (Australia) just finished the Rugby Championship, a competition against the All Blacks and South Africa.

“This gives them an edge over our players who play in the Top League. But in terms of what we want to achieve in the long term, we played well.”

Japan also relied on their big men for scores with locks Wimpie van der Walt and Kazuki Himeno touching down on their test debuts and number eight Amanaki Mafi adding the third.

“We couldn’t really get our game going (in the first half) and we paid the price,” Joseph said. “That was the really disappointing part of the game for us.

“In the second half, we showed what we can do when we create some pressure on the opposition and allowed to play our type of rugby.”

Japan next face Tonga in Toulouse on Nov. 19 before taking on France in Paris the following week. (Reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro, writing by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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