Saturday 19 September 2015

RWC: South Africa v Japan

Firstly: holy f*ck! Yesterday I said this:

Pool B

There's a strong fight for second spot here, with Samoa and Scotland being strong contenders, and Japan having half a chance if they have some luck. South Africa will be clear winners of their group. USA just rounds out the numbers

South Africa (3)
Scotland (10)
Samoa (12)
Japan (13)
USA (15)

I think Scotland are playing uncharacteristically well, and will just edge Samoa.


The South Africa v Japan game was something to behold, and Japan won. Fantastic stuff. This really changes things in this group, and I don't know what to think now.

It was not a case of South Africa playing badly: they played a good game, but Japan hadn't "read the script" and came out fighting, indeed taking an early lead. Throughout the whole match the score seesawed:

(South Africa) 0-3 (Japan) (8min)
7-3 (17min)
7-10 (29min)
12-10 (33min and HT)
12-13 (43min)
19-13 (44min)
19-16 (47min)
19-all (55min)
22-19 (58min)
22-all (60min)
29-22 (62min)
29-all (68min)
32-29 (72min)
32-29 (@ 80min, which is fulltime, until there is a stoppage)
32-34 (84min)

Japan just took it to South Africa, and both teams had an answer every time the other scored. Although the South Africans had a look of disbelief on their faces for a lot of it.

The last 10min - when South Africa got ahead and looked like holding on - spelled the end of my fingernails, but that last 4min after full time was... just... something to behold. At the 80min mark Japan had a chance for a fairly certain penalty which would have tied the scores, but they decided "ballocks to this, we can win this", and took the line out and slogged on. They crossed the line at one point after a huge rolling maul, but neither the ref (nor the TMO, nor me) could see the ball being grounded, so they reset for a scrum and kept going. Then at that 84min mark a gap opened in the Saffer defence and Japan took advantage of it. History made.

So what happens in that group now? I'm sure South Africa will regroup, but now both Scotland and Samoa will want some of them, and both sides will be picturing themselves winning. South Africa could well exit the tournament in the pool stage here, and... what... I can't call the result really.

That Japan side can beat either Scotland or Samoa to top the group, and any of South Africa, Scotland or Samoa second. I'm gonna hope for a South Africa early exit (this is epicaricacy at play), and Japan to top the group with Scotland second. This, however, will not change the quarter final results. Although England will have just sat bolt upright and gone "what have we got here then?"