Rugby World Cup: Italy make history with victory over Japan clinching quarter-final spot

Italy have created their own piece of rugby history, with their women defeating Japan 21-8 to clinch a Rugby World Cup quarter-final spot for the first time - men or women.

The Azzuri have arguably been the big improvers at this tournament, with victory over former champions USA elevating them to fifth in world rankings in the opening week, but they undoubtedly the pressure of history, as they lined up against the plucky Japanese.

They opened the scoring with a try to winger Maria Magatti, before Japan levelled with an answer from flanker Kyoko Hosokawa.

Japan pay respects to opponents and crowd after their defeat
Japan pay respects to opponents and crowd after their defeat. Photo credit: Photosport

Centre Michela Sillari kicked a penalty before halftime to give Italy an 8-5 advantage, but an matcher from first-five Ayasa Otsuka closed the margin, as the Japanese threatened to spoilt the playoff party.

Sillari edge the Italians ahead with a pair of penalties, before a yellow card to winger Komachi Imakugi undermined the Japanese hopes and hooker Melissa Bettoni settled the issue with a late try.

"Not happy, no control in the match," said Italy coach Andrea Di Giandomenico. "We lose possession, not control, so we are happy, but we have work to do.

"We need to focus on performance and emergency of support. Maybe today is a little bit difficult for us, because we are looking for go forward in the competition is really important.

"But most important is performance and we have to work."

With two matches remaining in pool play, Italy seem destined to line up against European rivals France next week.

Italy 21 (Magatti & Bettoni tries; Sillari conversion & 3 penalties) Japan 8 (Hosokawa try; Otsuka penalty)

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