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Friday Sep 6, 2019

Springboks 'pushed hard right to the end' by Japan in final warm up clash

Wingers Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe scored a hat-trick and a brace of tries respectively as South Africa beat Japan 41-7 on Friday, avenging their shock defeat at the hands of the Brave Blossoms four years ago in Brighton. 

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The Rugby World Cup warm-up match was played in front of a packed and engaged crowd at the Kumagaya Rugby Stadium, north of Tokyo.

The Springboks scored six tries to one, leading 22-0 at half time.

“There are some tired players in the change room and some tired bodies but we haven’t got a lot of injuries and it has put us on the right track for the Rugby World Cup,” said coach Rassie Erasmus.

“Japan pushed us hard right to the end. At halftime we were leading 14-0 or 22-0 or something but they scored that try after Frans Steyn had that pass go loose and that gave them hope. They are a dangerous team and really challenged us.

“I really believe that if we progress from our pool there’s a chance we may meet them again.

“But the game went pretty much as we wanted it to. We put up a lot of contestable kicks because they have not faced that much and we wanted to see how they handled that.

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“We scored four of our seven tries from contestable kick turnover so we’re happy how that turned out.

“Having said that, I think the scoreboard was flattering to us today.”

Former Springbok and Italy coach, Nick Mallett, said post match that the Springboks were ‘ticking boxes’.

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Erasmus added that his team are enjoying their Japanese experience.

“I haven’t experienced the way the crowd respected the game – the way they applauded good play from both sides and when the replacements came on and were quiet for the kickers – it’s not something we’ve experienced before.

“And I don’t get upset if they ask us about 2015; Japan should be proud of that result but it’s why we wanted to win this match and now we hopefully we see them in the play offs if we progress.”

Japan kick off the Rugby World Cup against Russia in Tokyo on September 20, with South Africa playing their opening match the next day, against rivals New Zealand.

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