Japan make history by reaching Rugby World Cup quarter-finals, Latest Others News - The New Paper

Japan make history by reaching Rugby World Cup quarter-finals

Brave Blossoms set up q-final with South Africa after winning all four pool games

Japan scotland
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Japan's "Ferraris" hit top gear last night as the hosts beat Scotland 28-21 in a barnstorming Rugby World Cup clash to create history by reaching the quarter-finals.

Rampaging wingers Kotaro Matsushima and Kenki Fukuoka did the damage for Japan, who survived a late fightback in Yokohama to advance as Pool A winners along with Ireland.

The Brave Blossoms will face two-time world champions South Africa in Tokyo on Saturday after making it a perfect four wins out of four, roared on by a crowd of 67,000.

Japan captain Michael Leitch dedicated the win to those affected by Typhoon Hagibis which had ripped through the Tokyo region a day earlier, killing 23 people and forcing organisers to scrap three pool games.

Fukuoka, scorer of Japan's try in their 19-12 upset over Ireland, grabbed two more yesterday, with Matsushima notching his fifth of the tournament for the rampant Japanese.

"For my team, the whole World Cup, we've prepared really, really well. They've put their bodies on the line every weekend," said Japan coach Jamie Joseph, who has compared his players to Ferraris.

"But tonight, they went another level I felt. They gave everything they possibly could - everyone gave 150 per cent and that's what it takes to win big Test matches."

Scotland needed to win while preventing Japan from securing a defensive bonus point - and they got off to a flying start.

Early pressure told as fly-half Finn Russell broke through to give them the lead after just seven minutes.

But the Japanese hit back with Matsushima latching onto a superb, one-handed offload from Fukuoka to score his fifth try of the tournament.

Even better was to come from the hosts with a dazzling move straight out of a basketball playbook, quick hands between Shota Horie and William Tupou releasing loosehead prop Keita Inagaki to crash over.

On the stroke of half-time, Fukuoka plucked a high-bouncing Timothy Lafaele grubber out of the air to leave Scotland with a mountain to climb.

Man-of-the-Match Fukuoka then produced a moment of solo brilliance moments into the second half, stripping the ball from Chris Harris before racing clear.

"We gave it a good crack in the second half but, when you leak 28 points, you're always going to be chasing the game," said Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw.

"But you've got to give Japan credit. They've really improved since four years ago."

Earlier yesterday, Wales set up a quarter-final with Six Nations rivals France as they topped Pool D with a far-from-perfect 35-13 win over minnows Uruguay. - AFP