Viliame Mata Japan thrash Tonga 41-7 in confidence boost before World Cup

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Ananaki Lelei Mafi (R) scored Japan’s first try in their match against Tonga

Japan thrashed Tonga Saturday 41-7 before a sold-out crowd, a confidence boosting second win in a row for the Brave Blossoms as they build up to the World Cup on home soil.

The 11th-ranked Brave Blossoms bagged five tries to 14th-ranked Tonga’s one in their second match of the Pacific Nations Cup, with less than 50 days before Japan hosts the first World Cup to be held in Asia.

Captain Michael Leitch, back after injury, said the team would scrutinise their performance but that they were on the right track after last week’s win against Fiji.

“There was so much pressure from them, it shows our performance is improving from last week,” he said.

“We’re doing well on the way to the World Cup.”

Japan took an early lead with Amanaki Lelei Mafi diving over the line for their first try, and both Asaeli Ai Valu and Timothy Lafaele made their mark in the first half.

A penalty kick by Tonga’s Sonatane Takulua missed the goal in the final minutes of the first half, leaving the score a lopsided 21-0.

The first points for Tonga came in the second half, with a try by Leva Fifita.

But Japan’s Kotaro Matsushima a

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