Dublin: 5°C Wednesday 8 December 2021


69,612 Views 34 Comments

Good morning and welcome along to our live coverage of the fourth and final World Cup quarter-final as hosts Japan bid to continue their magical campaign and make history by reaching the last four for the first time.

After coming through Pool A unbeaten with a string of superb performances, the Brave Blossoms face their biggest test in the form of the Springboks in Tokyo.

Kick-off is coming up at 11.15am and it promises to be another cracker. Stick with us for all the action!

The atmosphere is building in Tokyo and a big sell-out crowd await in anticipation.

japan-and-south-africa-fans Source: Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

japan-fans Source: Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

a-japan-fan Source: Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

a-japan-and-a-south-africa-fan Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

TEAM NEWS: Japan head coach Jamie Joseph makes one change to the team that started against Scotland, with Ryohei Yamanaka coming in at fullback to replace William Tupou for this quarter-final.

South Africa, meanwhile, have made 13 changes from the side that beat Canada in the pool stages as Rassie Erasmus’ side bid to reach the last four and set up a semi-final showdown against Wales.

Japan: Ryohei Yamanaka; Kotaro Matsushima, Timothy Lafaele, Ryoto Nakamura, Kenki Fukuoka; Yu Tamura, Yutaka Nagare; Kazuki Himeno, Pieter Labuschagne, Michael Leitch (capt); James Moore, Luke Thompson; Koo Ji-won, Shota Horie, Keita Inagaki

Replacements: Atsushi Sakate, Isileli Nakajima, Asaeli Ai Valu, Wimpie van der Walt, Amanaki Lelei Mafi, Fumiaki Tanaka, Rikiya Matsuda, Lomano Lava Lemeki.

South Africa: Willie le Roux; Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi; Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (capt); Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth; Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, RG Snyman, Franco Mostert, Francois Louw, Herschel Jantjies, Francois Steyn.

Our own Murray Kinsella is at the Tokyo Stadium again, where he has been previewing the game on eir Sport.

The teams are out and it’s time for the anthems! 

Huge emotion from both sets of players and from the stands. What an occasion this is for Japanese rugby — can Jamie Joseph’s side stun the Springboks again? We’re all set for kick-off in Tokyo!

Flag 1Mins

KICK OFF! We’re underway in Tokyo. Wayne Barnes is today’s referee, by the way. 


1 mins – Deafening noise inside the stadium and straight from the off, Japan show their ambition and confidence as Ya Tamura attempts a cross-field kick inside his own 22. 


2 mins – Japan will be looking to use the outside channels and shift this big South African pack around the park, but Tamura’s pass right is way forward and Barnes pulls it back for a Springbok scrum. Prime attacking platform here.


3 mins – And that’s a huge shift from the Springbok pack, who rumble on into the Japanese 22…

Flag 3Mins

3 mins — TRY! Japan 0-5 South Africa (Mapimpi)

And the Springboks draw first blood in Tokyo! Off a dominant scrum, Faf de Klerk goes down the blindside where Mapimpi is left one-on-one with Tamura and the Japanese out-half makes an awful attempt at a tackle and Mapimpi powers over.


6 mins – That was very clever from the Boks. Japan hide Tamura on the wing as he’s a poor defender but Erasmus had done his homework, with de Klerk hitting Mapimpi at the first attempt.


8 mins – Blistering response from Japan as they look to strike on turnover ball, with Le Roux forced to scramble and pounce on the loose ball. The move breaks down for the hosts as Tamura knocks on on the ground but encouraging signs for the hosts.


10 mins — Yellow! Wow, we’ve seen red cards for that but Tendai Mtawarira gets away with a yellow for a tip tackle on Inagaki. Barnes brandishes yellow straight away but it looks worse with each replay. The Springbok loosehead lucky to get away with that and he knows it.


14 mins – Leitch is now fortunate to escape punishment for taking Le Roux out in the air, but here come Japan…


15 mins – Nothing comes of it but absolutely sensational from Japan. Off the set-piece, the hosts move it left with pace and precision and Kolbe is left for dead by Kenki Fukuoka. South Africa scramble and shut the door metres from their own line, before winning the pressure-relieving penalty. But that was utterly brilliant from the Brave Blossoms.


18 mins – This is breathless stuff and it is an absolute joy to watch Japan in full flow. Their offloading game is on point again and they’re making the Springboks scramble in defence. 


18 mins — The decibel levels inside the Tokyo Stadium go through the roof as the Japanese pack get a huge shove on and win a scrum penalty against the head. Tamura is going for the posts. Huge moment. 


20 mins — Penalty! Japan 3-5 South Africa (Tamura)

And the out-half drills the penalty between the sticks and the hosts are on the board. The Beast is back on, by the way. 

23 mins – Impossible to take your eyes off this one. 


26 mins – Japan win the penalty as Kolbe is caught offside and Tamura launches it deep into South African territory. Off the lineout, the hosts again display their pace and movement but the execution is just lacking on this occasion as it’s picked off by a green shirt. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again — the noise is deafening. 


Going back to that yellow card for Mtawarira, here is the incident:

beast Source: RTÉ Player


32 mins – South Africa have had just 30% possession in this first half and on a rare visit to the Japanese 22, the home side come up trumps with a turnover penalty. 


34 mins – Oh that’s a huge let-off for Japan. They’ve dominated the first period but could have found themselves further behind there as the Springboks race down the left and cut the hosts apart. They’ve got numbers out wide but the final pass to Mapimpi is poor and goes to ground.


38 mins – We’ve seen nothing of Kolbe in this first half but he does brilliantly there to come and claim the up-and-under, before Le Roux sums up South Africa’s performance so far as he takes his eye off the ball and knocks on under absolutely no pressure.


40 mins – A shot to nothing here for the Springboks as they win a maul penalty as the clock goes red. Japan need to hold out as this would be a real sucker-punch. 


40 mins — No try! Damian de Allende gets over but he’s clearly held in a tackle before that and Barnes correctly calls him back and chalks it off. Japan survive and the crowd are on their feet!

Flag 41Mins

Half-time! Japan 3-5 South Africa 

The lowest-scoring half of the tournament but by no means the least entertaining. An absorbing 40 minutes of rugby in Tokyo as the Springboks take a slender lead into the break, but Japan have been utterly superb. 


eben-etzebeth-tackles-kazuki-himeno Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

ryoto-nakamura-clashes-with-michael-leitch Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

makazole-mapimpi-scores-a-try Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO


KICK OFF! We’re back underway in Tokyo. A big second 40 in store.


41 mins – The second half has started in the same vein as South Africa look to strike early again and this is a HUGE call from Barnes. With penalty advantage, Pollard looks cross-field where Matsushima takes Mapimpi out around the neck in mid-air and the referee chooses to ignore it! Unbelievable. 


44 mins — Penalty! Japan 3-8 South Africa (Pollard)

South Africa are rightly aggrieved with that decision as Barnes backs himself and decides against going upstairs to the TMO. Anyway, we’re going back for the original penalty and Pollard slots it between the sticks.


45 mins – Japan play high-risk rugby but it doesn’t come off on that occasion as the Springboks turn it over and look to strike, but Le Roux’s final pass for Du Toit is forward. Correct call from Barnes there. 


50 mins — Penalty! Japan 3-11 South Africa (Pollard)

You just get the sense South Africa are beginning to turn the screw. They’ve dominated since the restart and Pollard adds another three to extend their lead to eight points.


57 mins – The 17 minutes since the restart has all been played in the Japanese half and the Springboks are making their weight up front count now as they go direct. Japan need to weather this and that will help as Pollard misses a long-range penalty. 


62 mins — Penalty! Japan 3-14 South Africa (Pollard)

De Klerk looks to snipe but is caught high by James Moore and that’s a straightforward decision for Barnes. Pollard points to the posts and that’s now three penalties for the South African out-half since the interval. 


65 mins — TRY! Japan 3-21 South Africa (De Klerk)

The atmosphere has been sucked out of the Tokyo Stadium as South Africa land the knockout blow. A powerful rolling maul rumbles into the strike zone before Marx breaks off the back and offloads brilliantly for the supporting de Klerk to run it home. That should be that.


67 mins – The Boks have used all their experience and power to take the sting out of the Japanese performance and apply a complete stranglehold on this contest. Rassie’s men are heading towards a semi-final date with Wales.


68 mins – Japan need to find something from somewhere and they spurn a golden opportunity as the Boks pick off a Japanese lineout deep inside the 22. 


69 mins — TRY! Japan 3-26 South Africa (Mapimpi)

Game, set and match. It all comes from that Japanese lineout and the Springboks show their attacking class to kill this game off through Mapimpi — who powered his way home — down the left. Pollard misses the touchline conversion but it matters little now. 


74 mins – It’s a real shame that this game has run away from Japan in this second half but they can be incredibly proud of their performance yet again. South Africa’s power and experience has ultimately told in the end.


Full-time! Japan 3-26 South Africa 

Japan gave it absolutely everything and the end scoreline is a tad harsh on the host nation, but nobody can argue that South Africa were the better team over the 80 minutes and they were impressive in the second half to pull clear.

A real shame Japan’s magical campaign ends at the quarter-final stage but their performances and supporters have added so much to this World Cup. What a tournament it has been for Jamie Joseph’s men. 

On the flip side, South Africa advance through to the semi-finals where they’ll meet Wales next Sunday in Yokahama. Murray Kinsella’s on-the-whistle report from Tokyo is here.

duane-vermeulen Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The42 is on Instagram! Tap the button below on your phone to follow us!


Get closer to the stories that matter with exclusive analysis, insight and debate in The42 Membership.

Become a Member

About the author:

The42 Team


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel