Bloody-minded South Africa squeeze the life out of Japan and progress to the World Cup semi-finals
2019 Rugby World Cup Quarter-final: Japan 3-26 South Africa
Played – 3
Japan wins –1
Ireland wins – 2
Most Recent Meeting – Japan 7-41 South Africa
Most of us will remember Japan rocking the Boks in 2015, when Karne Hesketh’s late try secured the Miracle of Brighton – a 34-32 shock to rugby’s system.
But in the build-up to this World Cup, the two sides played again, in Kumagaya. The Springboks scored six tries to Japan’s one, dominating despite a yellow card for cynical play for Francois Louw late on. Makazole Mapimpi got a hat-trick, while Kotaro Matsushima got a consolation try.
The match was also notable for the Boks for deliberately practicing a certain style of game, kicking ball away so they could work on their defending.
Did you know?
- Japan are playing in their first ever quarter-final.
- South Africa have never failed to make it out of the pool in a World Cup.
- Coming into the quarter-finals, Kotaro Matsushima has scored the most tries in test matches in this calendar year, with nine.
- South Africa’s have won 20 matches and lost four in northern hemisphere World Cups. One of those four was against Japan, in Brighton.
- Handre Pollard is South Africa’s all-time leading point-scorer, ahead of Percy Montgomery.
For all the physical exertions of the pack, Mapimpi did as much as anyone to suck defenders in and he looks hungry.Handre Pollard deserves credit for guiding his Boks side through this one calmly, and 11 points is a solid showing – he kept the scoreboard ticking over. But in a game all about control, the brief moments of excitement Mapimpi created are worth a nod.
Japan coach Jamie Joseph: “At half-time the boys were a bit down there were a few niggles in our group, but, at the end of the day, I am just so proud of my team – the courage, the tenacity the sheer determination those last two tackles show just how tight a group we are and I really must take my hat off to the team.”
“Secondly, I’d really like to thank the fans. We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have the support of the whole country, they have been absolutely marvelous.
“I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved at the World Cup, we’ll accept that, we’ll enjoy that a little later on but I’m really disappointed for the players because they give so much to the group and they give so much to the country at this World Cup, I’m just a little disappointed.”
South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus: “We’ve come a bit but we want to try and go all the way. Now we’ve got Wales they are ranked higher than us and they got a win against France this weekend, we’ll start tomorrow on them, but we’ll enjoy tonight and we know the next two weeks will be tough.”
Japan: Ryohei Yamanaka (Lomano Lemeki 59), Kotaro Matsushima, Timothy Lafaele, Ryoto Nakamura, Kenki Fukuoka; Yu Tamura (Rikiya Matsuda 47), Yutaka Nagare (Fumiaki Tanaka 71); Keita Inagaki (Isileli Nakajima 47), Shota Horie (Atsushi Sakate 72), Jiwon Koo (Asaeli Ai Valu 63), Luke Thompson (Wimpie van der Walt 54), James Moore, Michael Leitch (captain), Pieter Labuschagne (Amanaki Mafi 11), Kazuki Himeno.
Pen: Tamura 20.
South Africa: Willie Le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe (Frans Steyn 71), Lukhanyo Am, Damian De Allende, Makazole Mapimpi; Handre Pollard, Faf De Klerk (Herschel Jantjies 73), Tendai Mtawarira (Steven Kitschoff 54), Bongi Mbonambi (Malcolm Marx 37), Frans Malherbe (Vincent Koch 54), Eben Etzebeth (RG Snyman 62) 62), Lood De Jager (Franco Mostert 66), Siya Kolisi (captain) (Steven Kitschoff 11), Pieter-Steph Du Toit, Duane Vermeulen (Francois Louw 67).
Try: Mapimpi 4, 70, De Klerk 66. Con: Pollard 66. Pen: Pollard 44, 48, 64.
Yelow card: Mtawarira 10.
Related: The weather forecast for the quarter-finals
Keep track of events in Japan via our Rugby World Cup homepage.
Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.