SHIZUOKA, Japan (AP) – The Brighton Miracle has a following. Japan shook the Rugby World Cup with another seismic result by beating Ireland 19-12 on Saturday.
Finding Ireland vulnerable in the extremities and employing stifling speed on the lines that controlled the Irish attack, Japan was even more surprising than South Africa's famous turn at the 2015 World Cup in Brighton, England.
Ireland, unlike the Springboks four years ago, was not taking the Japanese lightly. They knew exactly what was coming, and a team ranked # 1 just a week ago was still outnumbered.
The Irish led 12-3 after scoring two attempts in the first quarter and seemed to be rolling.
But Japan, encouraged by their home-grown fans, found the Irish weak in their wings and began to pin them in half, earning penalties for pressure from midfielder Yu Tamura.
Japan lost just 12-9 at halftime, which was a relief for Ireland.
If Ireland hoped to change things, there was no respite. When star Kenki Fukuoka, a late increase in reserves after recovering from a calf muscle injury, crossed on 59 minutes, the attempt and Japan's first lead in the match were well deserved.
Tamura converted and added a penalty, and minutes later, full time, was greeted by a roar that was probably heard 180 kilometers from the capital.
More AP Rugby World Cup: https://www.apnews.com/RugbyWorldCup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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