Ireland beats Japan 35-13 to sweep 2-match series

TOKYO (AP) Ireland beat Japan 35-13 on Saturday to sweep the two-match series between the 2019 Rugby World Cup group rivals.

Ireland, a 50-22 winner a week ago, took control with four tries in the first half at Ajinomoto Stadium, venue for the opening match of the 2019 tournament.

”It was very hot out there and the players were fatiguing early in the game, so it was great to get a good start,” Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said. ”Japan were quick off the line, tough at the tackle and made it very hard for us to win the game.”

Garry Ringrose scored Ireland’s first try less than five minutes in when he picked up an errant Japan pass and ran over from halfway.

Josh van der Flier, Kieran Marmion and captain Rhys Ruddock added tries with Paddy Jackson kicking the extras as Ireland took a 28-8 lead at halftime, with Japan’s try coming from Kotaro Matsushima.

Japan defended better after the break and was rewarded when Akihito Yamada crossed to cut the lead to 28-13.

The hosts appeared to have closed the gap further but a knock-on close to the line ruled out a try by Shuhei Matsuhashi.

Sean Reidy scored a late try converted by Jackson.

Ireland was missing 11 players involved in the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand, and used the tests against Japan to give younger players international experience.

Japan was missing wing Shota Emi, flanker Hendrik Tui and center Timothy Lafaele through injury, while William Tupou was unavailable due to a three-match ban for a dangerous play in the loss to Ireland last weekend.

”The game today highlights the gap between Tier 1 teams and where we are now and what we are working towards,” said Japan coach Jamie Joseph.