South Africa will play Japan in the World Cup quarter-finals after the host nation beat Scotland yesterday.
Japan qualified without losing a match after beating Ireland and Scotland. Sign them up to the Six Nations.
The Japanese were outstanding in beating a Scottish team, whose leadership had threatened World Rugby with a court case if the match did not take place because of Typhoon Hagibis. The match eventually took place and Scotland will forever wish it did not happen.
Scotland scored early to lead 7-0, but after that it was all Japan, who responded with three first-half tries and then resisted Scotland in the second half for a historic first-ever win in eight Test matches against the Scots.
New Zealand coaches Jamie Joseph and Tony Brown masterminded the famous win. Find your own superlative and no one will dispute it.
Geez, yesterday the Brave Blossoms played with an intensity I last saw from the Springboks in the 1995 World Cup final.
I had Scotland to win. They had never lost to Japan in seven match ups, they had scored 95 points in their previous two matches and they had not conceded a point.
I didn’t think Japan’s players would cope with the expectation and with the monumental occasion. How wrong was I because the hosts revelled in the moment and were just magnificent in winning 28-21 against a Scottish team that played with heart and passion.
Scotland, on the day, were not good enough to beat Japan. I never thought I’d tap away at a keyboard and write those words.
Japan’s victory confirmed the World Cup last eight and as amazing as yesterday was for the host nation, it was an equally comforting day for the Boks and SA supporters.
With no disrespect to the hosts, SA will win their quarter-final by 30-plus points. Yes, the Boks are that good and no Japan are not that good.
I don’t think the Boks ever thought they would be facing Japan after losing to the All Blacks in their World Cup opener. Perhaps the stars are aligned.
The All Blacks will now play Ireland and it is match that could go either way. The Irish have beaten the All Blacks in two of their last three matches and it could have been three in succession, but for a extra-time seven pointer from the Kiwis.
Wales will play France and England will take on Australia to complete the quarter-final lineup.
The World Cup finally comes alive this weekend and the team positioned the best to advance to the final four is SA.
The Boks, narrow losers against the All Blacks, won’t be troubled by Japan in the last eight, but coach Rassie Erasmus will be concerned at the prospect of having to beat Wales in a semi-finals.
Wales have beaten the Boks in three of the last four encounters and there is no way the Welsh will stumble against France.
England will also destroy Australia.
The only match for me that is 50-50 is New Zealand against Ireland.