Japan 3-26 South Africa: Springboks' defensive display denies hosts
South Africa to face Wales in their Rugby World Cup semi-final on Sunday October 27 in Yokohama
Last Updated: 21/10/19 5:23pm
South Africa relied on brute force and an incredible defensive display to deny brilliant Japan in their Rugby World Cup quarter-final in Tokyo.
The Boks were pushed all the way by Japan but ultimately had too much power and claimed a 26-3 win to set up their semi-final clash with Wales next Sunday.
As expected, South Africa brought their traditional strength game while Japan were exceptional with ball in hand - especially in the first 40 minutes.
An early try from Makazole Mapimpi gave South Africa a perfect start but they were forced into a massive defensive display for the rest of the first half.
Tendai Mtawarira was lucky not to see a red card for a tip-tackle but Japan only had a Yu Tamura penalty to show for their efforts despite some wonderful attacking moves.
Three Handre Pollard penalties in the second half stretched the lead for South Africa as they strangled the attacking life out of Japan, before a try from Faf de Klerk and a second for Mapimpi saw them through to the semi-finals.
Mapimpi opened up the scoring after three minutes after a big scrum in the Japan 22. The ball went to the blind side and Mapimpi went through a poor tackle from fly-half Yu Tamura to score. Pollard could not convert but the Boks had an early 5-0 lead.
Prop Mtawarira was in trouble after a dangerous tackle on opposite number Keita Inagaki and was extremely lucky it was not a different colour as Wayne Barnes showed him yellow.
South Africa went into full defensive mode as Japan continued to play some breathtaking rugby, only for some desperate tackling denying Japan's wonderful patterns of attacking play.
Tamura did claw three points back on the 19th minute after Japan won a scrum penalty - which was celebrated like a try - after they had been under immense pressure in the set-piece.
The Springboks should have had their second five minutes from the break but Mapimpi could not hold onto a poor pass from Am.
The Boks had time to blow two more chances in the first half - the second the most frustrating as Damian De Allende went over only to be called back for a double movement.
It was a different story from South Africa in the second half as they took control and did not allow Japan the possession they had in the first.
Three Pollard penalties stretched their lead as they got their direct, driving game firing and strangled the attacking life out of Japan.
De Klerk finally got South Africa's second try as Japan no answer for a superb driving maul. Malcolm Marx peeled off before giving the scoring pass to his scrum-half. Pollard converted for a 21-3 lead.
Mapimpi then claimed his second after the Boks broke from their 22 through Pollard who then fed his winger to break through a Kotaro Matsushima's tackle to score.
Pollard could not convert but it was job done for South Africa who will be relieved they managed to grind down Japan.
Japan have been outstanding in this World Cup and have entertained us with their high-intensity running rugby. They will be sorely missed but the future bodes well for Japan and it will be interesting to see what happens next for them. They have earned the right to play more tier one nations on a regular basis and would have won millions of fans for their perfomances.
South Africa's lineout was a key weapon for them against Japan - they were 100 per cent for their throw in but more importantly, they stole five of Japan's to take the sting out of some attacking pressure.
The Springbok defence was also something that stood out - they could not switch off for a moment and their defensive patterns denied Japan crossing their line. Lood de Jager led the way for in this regard making 15 tackles and missing none.
Beast was lucky to only get 10 minutes in the sin-bin after a dangerous tip tackle. Referee Wayne Barnes reached immediately for a yellow card, opting not to refer the decision upstairs to TMO Rowan Kitt. Keita Inagaki landed on his head, and according to the law it should have been a red card.
South Africa made far too many handling errors and while their discipline, execution and accuracy may have improved in the second half, but it will be a worry for the Boks ahead of their semi-final against Wales.
Stat of the match
15 - Japan failed to score a try in #JPNvRSA, they’d dotted down in each of their previous 15 @rugbyworldcup matches, last failing to do so in 2007 (v Aus); only 3 sides have ever scored a try in more consecutive games at the RWC (New Zealand – 30, Wales – 19, Tonga – 17). Blank. pic.twitter.com/wB4d44qCSr— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) October 20, 2019
Tweets of the day
57 - The @Springboks were the only side not to lose a lineout on their own throw in the pool stages of this year's @rugbyworldcup, they won 10/10 against Japan to take their tally to 57/57 for the tournament. Perfection.#JPNvRSA #RWC2019 pic.twitter.com/zpVI5yCffq— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) October 20, 2019