Second-string Ireland hold off Japan

Dublin (AFP) –


Ireland shrugged off the absence of several senior players to edge Japan 39-31 in a thrilling nine-try summer Test as supporters returned to the Aviva Stadium for the first time in 17 months.

With seven of their contingent on British and Irish Lions duty and captain Johnny Sexton, plus Keith Earls and Cian Healy, rested, there was a fresh look to the hosts in their first meeting with Japan since the 2019 World Cup.

On that occasion, Japan pulled off a shock to top the pool and they threatened a repeat in Dublin, where around 3,000 spectators were in attendance at the venue.

Despite an error-strewn first-half from the Irish, they went in at the interval 19-17 ahead after tries from Chris Farrell, Stuart McCloskey and Finlay Bealham.

Flanker Josh Van Der Flier and wing Jacob Stockdale went over after the break while Joey Carbery's four conversions were followed by two penalties that ultimately took the wind out of Japan.

Michael Leitch, Timothy Lafaele, Siosaia Fifita and Naoto Saito scored tries for the visitors who dazzled with some of their attacking play, but were unable to hold on after going 24-19 in front in the second-half.