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Ireland captain Rory Best admitted that his men were left “chasing shadows” in their shock World Cup defeat by Japan, adding that the side had been unable to provide “the right answers” to the hosts’ ferocious and spirited display.
Four years on from their famous win over South Africa, the Brave Blossoms fought back from two tries down to record yet another historic victory at the tournament, beating the Irish 19-12 in Shizuoka.
The result now places Japan, who beat Russia in their opening match, in pole position to qualify for their first-ever World Cup quarter-final, with fixtures against Samoa and Scotland to follow.
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“We knew how tough it was going to be, anyone who is utterly shock hasn’t seen how good they were,” Best said in the wake of defeat. “We had a game plan and were prepared, we made a few mistakes and were on the wrong side of the penalty count.
“But Japan played really and posed us a lot of questions, unfortunately we couldn’t come up with the right answers.
“When you play the host team it’s always tough, we didn’t start how we wanted and
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