The daily tournament preview packs down with Rugby World Cup tips for the last quarter-final, a historic showdown between Japan and South Africa.
21:15 (AEDT), Sun 20th Oct @ Ajinimoto Stadium, Tokyo
History: Played 2: Japan 1 V South Africa 1
Last meeting: September 6, 2019: South Africa 41 d Japan 7 at Kumagaya Rugby Ground
Final thoughts: Hosts Japan line up for easily their biggest match in their rugby union history. But South Africa will be in no mood to play the fall guys in another Brave Blossoms fairytale in Sunday night’s quarter-final.
The Springboks are also out to atone for their famous 34-32 loss to Japan in the 2015 Rugby World Cup group stage.
South Africa powered to a 41-7 victory when the nations met in a World Cup warm-up last month. But Japan have taken their game to unprecedented heights at this tournament.
Following a scratchy 30-10 win over Russia, they secured a historic knockouts berth with unforgettable victories against Ireland (19-12), Samoa (38-19) and Scotland (28-21). Their trademark tenacity and flair is being backed up by genuine all-round quality under the Jamie Joseph-Tony Brown coaching regime.
Wingers Kataro Matsushima and Kenki Fukuoka have scored nine tries between them at the tournament.
South Africa are the dark horse in the Rugby World Cup title mix. Many regard them as New Zealand’s biggest threat.
The 2019 Rugby Championship winners were gallant in a gripping, Pool B-opening 23-13 loss to the All Blacks. Since then, the Boks have dismantled Namibia (57-3), Italy (49-3) and Canada (66-7).
The class of Handre Pollard in the No.10, a dynamic back-three and a bruising forward pack headlined by brilliant loose trio Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit and captain Siya Kolisi shape as huge hurdles for the sentimental favourites and $5.30 underdogs.
While another boilover may be beyond Japan, they have been afforded a generous start. The Brave Blossoms have come too far to not at least keep this close.