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Dublin: 12 °C Tuesday 26 March, 2019
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Brilliant Brave Blossoms stun South Africa

Japan have caused the biggest shock in Rugby World Cup history.

Japan 34

South Africa 32

EDDIE JONES’ JAPAN made the normally gaping chasm of 10 World Rugby ranking places count for nothing today as they produced an awe-inspiring display of ambitious and fearless rugby against the two-time World Champions.

Britain Rugby WCup South Africa Japan Source: Tim Ireland

The Brave Blossoms led three times and pulled level twice before laying siege to the Springboks line trailing 29 -32. They passed up numerous penalty opportunities to pull level and instead continued taking on South Africa at their own game before going wide to create an overlap finished by Karne Hesketh in the 84th minute.

From the word go, Japan showed absolutely no hesitation in taking the ‘Boks on at their own game. They matched physicality in the loose with precision set-piece efforts and their opening try from inspiration captain Michael Leitch — who moved to Japan from New Zealand at the age of 15 — was testament to that.

Trailing 7 -3 after Francois Louw finished off a South African maul in hte 18th minutes, Japan’s pack would not be cowed and Leitch’s long arm reached out from the middle of a powerful rolling maul to plant the ball on the line on 30 minutes.

Ayumu Goromaru’s conversion put them 7 – 10 ahead before Bismarck Du Plessis’ score edged the ‘Boks back ahead, 12 – 10 at the half-time break.

Britain Rugby WCup South Africa Japan Source: Tim Ireland

Lodewyk De Jager’s 44th minute run in under the posts looked like it would end the resistance of the Japanese as it heaved the game’s giants back in to a 19 – 13 lead.

But Japan simply would not be shaken off. Not at that point, not even after Adriaan Strauss put the ‘Boks ahead again, turning 22 – 22 in to  22 – 29.

Goromaru showed he is in the side for much more the kicking goals with a stunning finish to a clinical powerplay, the fullback collecting a pass from Kotaro Matsushima after the wing danced his way out of contact and into space to create a try that brought Brighton – and the world of rugby – to its feet.

Britain Rugby WCup South Africa Japan Source: Tim Ireland

Handre Pollard nudged South Africa back ahead once more, but that merely set the scene for the most dramatic finish to a Rugby World Cup fixture. Japan laid siege to the try-line, making inroads into the oft-impenetrable green scrum and daring to risk defeat in search of victory. Victory, and the hearts of every non-South African watching, was theirs.

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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