MILTON KEYNES, 3 Oct - The Brave Blossoms are back in bloom, rejuvenated in body and mind after the strength-sapping defeat to Scotland.

Those sceptics who suggested Japan could not sustain their challenge for a quarter-final place after the shock upset over South Africa in the opening Pool B match should have been at Stadium MK on Saturday. The 20 million or so watching on television back home were already convinced.

Canny coach Eddie Jones and his disciplined, well-drilled, efficient team destroyed a Samoa side, who were the polar opposite and who contributed hugely to their own downfall. The ebullient Australian was in fine form as he reflected on Japan’s achievement so far.

​"If you look at the history of Japanese rugby, we have won one World Cup game in 24 years, Jones said. “We have just doubled that. We have changed the history of rugby in Japan.

"We always said we came to this tournament with two targets. One, to be the team of the tournament and secondly to make the quarter-finals. If we win three games at this tournament we will end up team of the tournament."

Knockout blows

Japan boast the highest points scorer of the tournament so far, too. Ayumu Goromaru takes his kicking stance and style from England World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson. While the full-back is not quite as accurate - his average is 69 per cent - his steady boot and 14 points played a huge part.

On top of a penalty try, Japan's only touchdown went to Akihito Yamada, just before half-time, and involved an exquisite pirouette round Alesana Tuilagi. Whether the wing remembers it is another issue - he was taken off on a stretcher after being knocked out in the second half after his head connected with the boot of Paul Perez.

Jones confirmed that the player had recovered in the dressing room and concussion protocols would be followed while Yamada admitted he had no idea how long he had been knocked out.

Samoa's headache will have been just as big. Three yellow cards, two at the same time in the first half for Faifili Levave and Sakaria Taulafo, set the pattern for a dreadful day at the office. The tears of Filo Paulo, as he headed to the sin bin a few minutes from the end, said it all.

15 beats 13

"Discipline cost us right from the start," coach Stephen Betham admitted. "You really struggle to play with 13 men and had to play double hard to defend. We feel very bad on the way we performed.

Samoa have been staying at the hotel which is attached to the stadium and had to walk out of the front door and back through the official “welcome” entrance before the match. They looked like they had been replaced by imposters.

Apart from Perez’s consolation try, due reward for a series of powerful, direct dashes, there was little else to cheer. Japan’s 59 per cent possession, plus a 17-4 penalty count made unhealthy reading for Betham’s side.

Samoa, who saw their last-eight hopes destroyed, need to go back to the drawing board with Scotland up next. Japan, meanwhile, are in full flower in this Indian summer.

RNS js/ej