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Japan misses out on Women's Rugby World Cup semi spot


Japan’s hopes of reaching the Women’s Rugby World Cup semifinals were dashed when it allowed host Ireland to come from behind for a 24-14 victory in a Pool C match on Sunday.

Japan dominated territory in the first half and took a 14-0 lead into the break. A 27th-minute penalty try was followed by full-back Mayu Shimizu crossing for the team’s second, which she converted.

But Alison Miller ignited a comeback with Ireland’s opening try in the 46th minute at University College Dublin.

Nora Stapleton’s boot contributed nine points, including a conversion that leveled the game at 14 apiece, and two tries from second-half replacement Paula Fitzpatrick kept alive Ireland’s chances of advancing along with France, the other undefeated Pool C nation.

“Our players went in there eager to win so it’s too bad. There were mistakes in game management. In the first 20 minutes, they all played their hearts out. I feel like we’ve raised the level of our game today,” said Japan coach Goshi Arimizu.

Japan, which lost to France 72-14 in their first match of the tournament on Wednesday, will meet fellow winless team Australia in their group match finale on Aug. 17.

In other Pool C play, France beat Australia, ranked sixth in the world, 48-0 to top the pool standings with a 2-0 record and a huge point differential lead over Ireland. Each pool winner and the top-ranked runner-up nation progress to the semis.

Japan will compete in the ranking matches to determine the fifth- to 12th-place teams, while the semifinals for the 12-team tournament take place in Belfast on Aug. 22 and final on Aug. 26.

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