Match report: Australia 'A' show no mercy against Japan
June 9, 2007

Australia 'A' notched 64 unanswered points on their way to a 71-10 victory in its iRB Pacific Nations Cup clash with Japan at Townsville's Dairy Farmers Stadium.

Josh Holmes scored a hat-trick while Ryan Cross picked up Australia A's first two tries in what was a dominant performance by the home side, who finished with ten for the match after trailing 10-7 early.

A four try blitz to finish the first half sunk the visitors, who were no match for the attacking flair of the Australians.

The win sets up a tantalising clash with the Junior All Blacks next week in Dunedin, the winner of that match likely to take out the tournament.

Australia A started the match in a confident frame of mind, breaking the first line of defence three times inside the first five minutes of play.

With the Japanese defence in two minds Australia A would soon find the tryline, Cross touching down on eight minutes.

The try came off some excellent lead up work from Berrick Barnes and man of the match David Pocock, the flyhalf taking the ball to the line before putting Pocock away, who in turn found Cross unmarked.

Clinton Schifcofske's conversion made it 7-nil to the Australians.

Japan got its first points soon after, Kousei Ono nailing a penalty from 40 metres, and then took the lead through a converted try to fullback Bryce Robins.

Scooping up the ball from an Australia A grubber just centimetres in from touch, Robins sprinted almost 50 metres to touch down in the corner.

Again Ono's boot was on target, handing Japan an unexpected 10-7 lead.

Schifcofske evened it up with a penalty from in front at the midway point of the half, then Cross found the stripe for the second time

Receiving the ball on halfway, Cross made the most of a yawning gap in the defence before utterly bamboozling two cover defenders to score just to the left of the posts.

Schifcofske kept his 100 percent record alive with the boot to put Australia A up by seven with 12 minutes left in the first half.

It became 14 three minutes later when the winger went in for a try of his own, Schifcofske scoring in the corner after being set up by a Peter Hewat break which began 80 metres up field.

And when Josh Holmes scored his side's fourth try six minutes before the break the writing was well and truly on the wall for the Japanese.

It would be far from the end of Australia A's scoring for the half, Holmes crossing for a second time in the 37th minute to take the half time score out to 36-10 in favour of the home side.

The second half was no better for the Japanese, conceding a soft try to Australia A debutant Haig Sare in the 43rd minute of play, the five pointer sensationally converted from the sideline by Schifcofske for a 43-10 lead.

Holmes bagged his hat-trick soon after - scoring his third try in 13 minutes - touching down off an audacious Hewat chip kick in midfield. Schifcofske converted to bring up 50 in as many minutes for Australia A.

The A's were reduced to 14 men on the hour when Salesi Ma'afu was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle and taking the man without the ball.

The replacement prop would again earn the ire of Fijian referee James Bolabiu, earning a second yellow - and compulsory red - in the 81st minute for not retiring the ten before making a tackle.

He will face an iRB Judiciary hearing in Townsville at 9am on Sunday.

However Ma'afu's game would not be in vain, scoring Australia A's ninth try in the 72nd minute after fellow prop Gareth Hardy put the A's 57-10 ahead with a try of his own while Ma'afu was in the bin.

The A's final try again came off the boot, Kurtley Beale scoring his second in as many weeks to take the final score along to 71-10 in favour of the home side.

Australia A relocates to Sydney on Sunday ahead of what looks set to be a championship deciding clash with the Junior All Blacks in Dunedin next Saturday.

The A's sit just one point behind the New Zealanders on the ladder after both claimed wins today to remain undefeated for the tournament, the JAB's defeating Tonga 39-13 earlier this afternoon.

Tries: Josh Holmes 3, Ryan Cross 2, Clinton Schifcofske, Haig Sare, Gareth Hardy, Salesi Ma'afu, Kurtley Beale
Conversions: Clinton Schifcofske 9/10
Penalty Goals: Clinton Schifcofske 1/1

JAPAN (10) 10
Tries: Bryce Robins
Conversions: Kousei Ono 1/1
Penalty Goals: Kousei Ono 1/1

At Dairy Farmers Stadium, Townsville

Crowd: 4,745

Referee: James Bolabiu (Fiji)

Man of the Match: David Pocock (Australia A)

Yellow Card: Salesi Ma'afu (Australia A)
Red Card: Salesi Ma'afu (Australia A)

Pacific Nations Cup rugby standings after matches yesterday:-

Junior All Blacks 3 3 0 0 127 31 15
Australia A 3 3 0 0 158 40 14
Fiji 3 1 0 2 41 80 6
Japan 3 1 0 2 45 118 4
Samoa 3 1 0 2 33 61 4
Tonga 3 0 0 3 45 119 1

(Note: four points for win, two for draw, one for loss by seven points or less, one for scoring four or more tries in a match)

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