Dream ends for JapanSports | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 21 Oct 2019
South Africa broke Japanese hearts with a 26-3 quarter-final victory last night to set up a Rugby World Cup semi-final against Wales, who needed a late try to scrape past 14-man France by a single point.
Japan showed their usual pace and adventure in a promising first half, but they were worn down by the two-time world champions, who scored 21 unanswered points in the second period.
Japan famously beat South Africa at the last World Cup in an upset dubbed the 'Miracle of Brighton' but last night's match was far more comfortable for the Springboks, for whom wing Makazole Mapimpi scored two tries.
Defeat brought an end to the hosts' marvellous run, in which they stunned Ireland and Scotland en route to topping Pool A unbeaten and reaching the quarter-finals for the first time, rising to an all-time high of sixth in the world rankings.
Rugby is far from the most popular sport in Japan, but fans have come out in numbers - and watched on TV in their millions - for the first World Cup held in Asia.
"We're really proud with what we've achieved," said Japan coach Jamie Joseph. "I'm just disappointed for the players because they give so much to the group and they give so much to the country."
The results completed the semi-final lineup, after defending champions New Zealand brushed aside Ireland on Saturday to set up a clash with England, who convincingly beat Australia.
In Oita, Wales rallied for a 20-19 win over 14-man France.
Ross Moriarty's late try clinched it as Wales avenged their 2011 semi-final loss to France with a mirror-image result - after they also had a man sent off and lost by a point eight years ago.
"The better team lost today, but that red card was obviously significant," Wales coach Warren Gatland said. "The great thing about our boys is they don't give up."
Lock Sebastien Vahaamahina saw red in the 49th minute for his elbow to Aaron Wainwright's face in a maul - echoing then Wales captain Sam Warburton's sending-off in the 2011 semi-final, won 9-8 by France.
?Wallabies coach Michael Cheika quit after their quarter-final exit against England, drawing the curtain on a five-year reign. The 52-year-old had previously indicated he would not reapply for his job if they failed to win the tournament.