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YOKOHAMA –Japan beat Scotland 28-21 on Sunday night to claim a place in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals for the first time ever, winning Pool A with a perfect record of four wins from four.
In a game that was only given the green light to be played at International Stadium Yokohama at 10:30 on Sunday morning due to uncertainty over the impact of Typhoon Hagibis, Scotland took an early lead before tries from Kotaro Matsushima, Keita Inagaki and Kenki Fukuoka sent Japan into halftime with a commanding lead.
Fukuoka then scored Japan’s fourth try shortly after the restart to secure his team a bonus point, before Scotland came roaring back with scores from WP Nel and Zander Fagerson to set up a tense finale in front of 67,666 fans.
But the Brave Blossoms stood firm in the face of a fierce late Scottish onslaught and saw out the win, setting up a historic last-eight matchup with South Africa in Tokyo on Oct. 20.
“Before we talk about the game, I think it’s important to acknowledge what went on last night with regards with the typhoon,” said Japan head coach Jamie Joseph. “There has been a lot of publicity around the rugby side of things, but we woke up this morning and 19 people were killed in the typhoon. We talked about that as a team. Sometimes those kinds of things can be overwhelming, but I think they came out in the match.
“I thought the Scottish team were unbelievable. They took it to us right from the start. In some parts of the game they outplayed us and outmatched us, but it’s the tenacity of our team at crucial parts of the test that paid dividends for us.”
Japan made a nervous start to its home World Cup in the opening game against Russia, but the Brave Blossoms have since gone from strength to strength with wins over Ireland, Samoa and now Scotland, and captain Michael Leitch sees no reason why that should stop against South Africa.
“This is great for Japanese rugby,” he said. “Not just Japanese rugby but rugby in Asia and Tier 2 rugby. For us to qualify for the quarterfinals, now we’re shifting the goalposts. I’m not too sure who’ve got next but we’ll start next week and go from there.
“The key to our victory is preparation. It’s been that way from the start of the week. We’re not coming out next week to have a good game and lose. We’re coming out to win
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