South Africa ended Japan’s phenomenal run at the Rugby World Cup with a 26-3 win in the Oct. 20 quarterfinal.
Japan, which was playing a World Cup knockout match for the first time ever, fell behind to an early Makazole Mapimpi try at Tokyo Stadium before a Yu Tamura penalty sent the Brave Blossoms into halftime trailing by just two points.
But the Springboks, who are looking to win the trophy for the third time, turned the screw in the second half with three penalties from the boot of Handre Pollard, before two tries in the space of four minutes made the game safe for South Africa.
The Springboks will now look forward to a semifinal against Wales in Yokohama on Oct. 27, while Japan can reflect on a hugely successful campaign that saw it beat Russia, Ireland, Samoa and Scotland to reach the quarterfinals for the first time.
“I’m just really proud of the Japanese team,” said Japan head coach Jamie Joseph. “All of the players. Some of the players didn’t even play in a game, and that’s what it takes to build a really good team. I’d like to thank the fans. They’ve been a massive support for us, directly in the stadiums and indirectly in and around the hotels. The players understood that and it really helped us.” (The Japan Times)