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Date: 3/18/2016
 

Japan opened the first day of Olympic Qualification Tournament I matches in Metz with a decisive victory against Tunisia before the Netherlands recorded a bigger victory than expected against France. 

Friday March 18 in Les Arenes, Metz
Japan vs Tunisia 37:20 (19:8)

Japan’s offensive defence and counter attacks proved destructive for Tunisia from the beginning. Facing a 1-5 defensive system that succeeded in limiting Tunisia’s shooting options, resulting in counter attack after counter attack for the Asian team, the African champions creativity was put to the test from the first whistle. 

While Tunisia looked for ways past Japan’s aggressive defence, the Asian side raced ahead to a 7:0 lead after seven minutes of play. Tunisia scored their first to put the score at 8:1 when the clock showed 10 minutes, but at that point it was already clear that it would be difficult for the African team to find their way back into the game. 

When Japan continued their dominance at 12:1 midway through the half, it seemed the outcome of the game was already decided. Japan dropped back to a less offensive defence around the 20-minute mark as Tunisia seemed to find new energy, but Japan still held a rather decisive 11-goal advantage at the break. 

Though Tunisia continued fighting when the match resumed, Japan continued to increase their advantage to lead 24:12 in the 40th minute. With 15 minutes left Japan had moved further in front to 30:15 and Tunisia’s window of opportunity was well and truly closed. 

Player of the Match presented by adidas: Shio Fujii (JPN) 

Netherlands vs France 24:17 (9:7)

The low-scoring nature of the match reflected the exceptional defensive and goalkeeping battle on court in Metz for the second game of the evening. 

It took more than two minutes before the first goal was scored, coming courtesy of Allison Pineau on a penalty shot. The Netherlands answered with a quick goal off a fast restart, which proved to be their most successful scoring tactic as the match progressed. 

After five minutes the score was level at 2:2, at which point the goalkeepers began to dominate the game. Both Amandine Leynaud for France and the Netherlands’ Tess Wester were responsible for stopping several penalty shots each in the first half, keeping the score at a low 3:3 in the 10th then 4:3 midway through the half. 

As the clock ticked on the Netherlands created a narrow advantage after Wester saved a shot off Gnonsiane Niombla that was immediately converted into a two-goal lead at 6:4. France’s Nina Kamto Njitam closed the difference to 5:6 with a counter attack in the 25th, but Dutch line player Yvette Broch answered on the fast restart and the Netherlands maintained their two-goal advantage through until the break. 

France returned for the second half with fresh determination that helped them decrease the difference to one at 10:11 in the 35th before equalising temporarily, but by the 40th minute the Netherlands had opened up the two-goal advantage again. 

France chased for the rest of the match, coming close a couple of times until the visitors surged ahead to lead 16:13 with just over 10 minutes left on the clock. When the score board showed 20:16 to the Netherlands at the 55-minute mark, it was clear the ‘Oranje’ had earned the first two points that will set them firmly on the path to Rio de Janeiro. 

Player of the Match presented by adidas: Tess Wester (NED) Goalkeeper

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