RWC 2019: Japan vs South Africa Preview
Japan vs South Africa
The Springboks will be looking to vanquish the ghosts of 2015 when they take on host nation Japan on Sunday the 20th of October.
Will it be a repeat of the 2015 “Miracle of Brighton”? Or will the ‘Boks vanquish a couple demons this weekend? We’ll find out on Saturday when Pool A toppers Japan take on Pool B’s runners-up South Africa.
The host nation have been nothing short of sublime at this year’s World Cup beating minnows Russia (30-10) and Samoa (28-19) while beating European heavyweights Scotland and Ireland 28-21 and 19-12.
Considering this Japanese side was catching 100 point hidings just a decade ago, one is left astonished at the progress they have made over the past decade.
While Eddie Jones laid the platform for Japan’s improvement, the current man at the helm Jamie Joseph’s – along with his countrymen Tony Brown and John Plumtree – have turned this side from defensively astute Terriers into a cross between a grizzled Doberman and a hyped-up Jackrussel.
The Japanese back three will be a major threat this weekend with winger Kenki Fukuoka who scored four tries in the three pool games they played.
There are a few boys in this Springbok squad – both backroom and playing personnel – that will be out for a spot of revenge at this Sunday, with that infamous day out in Brighton still a major blimp on some of South African rugby superstars’ C.Vs.
While the Japanese caught the South Africans cold in 2015, this is unlikely to occur again as Rassie Erasmus’ men will not be taking anything for granted. The ‘Boks have also had a rather testing pool phase that saw them play the world’s number 1 ranked side. And while they did go down to the All Blacks by 15 points, they did put in solid showings against less challenging side in the form of Italy, Canada and Namibia.
Key to the ‘Boks chances this weekend will be how well their set-piece goes. If they can get an upper hand at scrum and line out time then Handre Pollard will be able to control the game. If the men in ‘Green and Gold’ fail to dominate these phases then the Japanese could well spring another surprise.
Prediction – Japan vs South Africa
Rassie Erasmus’ men come into this one as hot favourites with the ‘books and have been handed at 16.5 handicap to clear this Sunday. And while they are capable of doing it, they hardly going to be hunting tries which will make this a far tighter contest than what the aforementioned line suggests.
With the above in mind, I’ll be having a medium sized punt of the home team to stay within a rather large handicap.
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