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  • Writer's pictureThe Season Ticket

Rugby | Japan eliminated by superb Springboks

Japan have been knocked out of the World Cup. The host nation have suffered a 26-3 defeat to the superb South Africa at the quarter-final stage at Tokyo Stadium. South Africa will now face Wales - who left it late to beat France - in the semi-final next Saturday. The Springboks made a perfect start against Japan in Tokyo, with Makazole Mapimpi crossing for the game's first try inside four minutes. Mapimpi burst over in the corner after being picked out by man of the match Faf we Klerk following a monstrous scrum on the Japanese 22. At the end of an intense and frantic opening 10 minutes, Rassie Erasmus' men lost Tendai Mtawarira to the sin bin - though he was perhaps fortunate to escape a red card - for a dangerous dump tackle. The 50,000 fans inside the stadium created a wonderful atmosphere, which grew in fervour as Japan began to enjoy a good spell following Mtawarira's yellow card. Yu Tamura got the hosts on the scoreboard after the Brave Blossoms were awarded a penalty following a scrum in the 19th minute. Surprisingly, it was to the be the last score of a breathless first half. The Springboks almost grabbed a second try in the dying seconds of the half, but Damian de Allende saw his effort ruled out for a double movement. It was the last action of a dramatic first half which saw Japan like pressure on the well-marshalled South African defence, and also saw Erasmus' men squander some promising moves in the final third. South Africa looked tired as they trudged off at half time, in contrast to Jamie Joseph's home team, who sprinted into the dressing room with fervour. However, it was the experienced Springboks who took control of the second half. Handre Pollard extended their lead with a penalty in the 43rd minute, and repeated the feat six minutes later to make it 11-3. Pollard split the posts with his third penalty of the half just after the hour mark following a high tackle from Japan's James Moore. The excellent de Klerk scored South Africa's third try, going over under the posts in the 66th minute shortly after another monstrous Sprignboks lineout. Four minutes later, Mapimpi plundered try number four, running on to Pollard's superb kick to touch down in the corner. South Africa closed the game out with relative ease, bringing Japan's historic run to an impressive halt. The Brave Blossoms exit the tournament with enormous credit, having entertained fans all around the world with their infectious, thrilling brand of rugby throughout the competition. South Africa proved to be too experienced and too powerful for the hosts in the end, and Wales now await the Springboks in Yokohama on Saturday.

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