SOUTH AFRICA ended Japan’s dream World Cup run to reach the semi-finals after a bruising 26-3 win against the hosts.
The Springboks led after a powerful run gave Makazole Mapimpi a try, but went a player down when Tendai Mtawarira was shown a yellow card for a tip tackle.
Japan could only take a Yu Tamura penalty from the man advantage, making the score 5-3 at half-time in Tokyo.
Second-half tries from Faf de Klerk and Mapimpi plus Handre Pollard’s 11 points put the Springboks out of reach.
The tries put paid to any hopes of a repeat of Japan’s 2015 World Cup win against the same opponents and brought to an end a fairytale four weeks for the hosts.
The Springboks will now play Wales in the semi-final on Sunday, 27 October, with the winner facing England or New Zealand in the final.
It was an historic day for Japanese rugby and the fans knew it, posing for photos with South African supporters as proof that they were there.
Television audiences and media interest has gradually increased after an impressive group-stage performance which included superb wins against Ireland and Scotland.
As the hosts qualified for a first World Cup quarter-final, Japanese rugby captured the hearts of the nation and of many fans across the world.
The Brave Blossoms started as optimistically as they had played in the pool stages, with fly-half Yu Tamura kicking cross-field to wing Kotaro Matsushima, but it was two-time winners South Africa who scored first.
The Springboks overpowered Japan in a scrum and De Klerk’s pass to Mapimpi found the left wing with plenty of room to run through Tamura and dive over in the corner.
It would take more than that to quieten the Japanese fans, though. Chants of “Japan” were only interrupted when captain Michael Leitch had the ball, at which point prolonged cries of “Leitch” rang out instead.
There was a yellow card for prop Mtawarira for a tip tackle on opposite number Keita Inagaki in the 11th minute.
No tries came of the numerical advantage, but Japan won a scrum penalty just to the left of the posts and the crowd exploded into cheers. Tamura duly landed the kick and cut South Africa’s lead to two. — BBC Sport