Match Preview: South Africa vs Japan
"I really can`t believe that we are already entering the knock out stages and weekend of Rugby World Cup 2019 and bar Scotland and possibly Argentina most teams who most supporters and fans would have pencilled in as potential quarter finalists at the start, are in."
During the pool stages most games went according to plan and the biggest upset and surprise package has undoubtedly been the host nation, Japan. Full value for their victory over Ireland many thought that it might have been a Springbok Brighton 2015 Rugby World Cup moment but again they delivered again against Scotland during the game of the tournament....SO FAR!!
This weekend we see the top 8 going head to head and again most fans and spectators agree that the results should go according to the bookies and the Favourites, New Zealand, Wales, England and South Africa should progress to the semi- final. Now I would not necessarily disagree with their predictions and after all they are the professionals and to be fair, they are bloody good at it. I just have this strange ,I cant quite put a finger on it feeling that there will be one upset this weekend and that a BIG team or favourite`s tournament will be over- in saying this I do however have absolutely no idea which game and which team will go home on Sunday or Monday night.
Just as a matter of interest and World Rugby only allow the teams knocked out of the tournament a day or 2 grace and then they have to leave the hotel and tournament. I remember beating England in France during the 1999 World Cup quarter finals and as we cross the English Channel back to England for the semis, on arrival we check into the Petersham Hotel waiting at the door for the England team to check out-cruel but part of professional sport.
If we look ahead to the game that most of South Africa will be watching tomorrow (Please ESKOM) most people I talk to seem pretty confident that it will be a comfortable Bok victory. Many believe that Japan played their final last week against Scotland and there is off course merit in saying that. I am of the impression and argument that we should win the game but not entirely confident that it will be comfortable and with a big winning margin. As mentioned previously I attended the Japan vs Scotland game and was blown away with the organization and speed with which the Japanese play. What they might lack in size compared to the traditional rugby playing nations they certainly make up for in speed and what they do with the ball when they get their hands on it.
The Springbok team selection is pretty good and I agree with Rassie`s philosophy of not changing too much in a winning team. A massive pack of forwards that should have enough control of the Japanese 8 and to some degree dominance to allow for good ball to the backs, always on the front foot. What the backline decides to do with that ball is entirely up to them but let`s hope for not too much aimless kicking and a weak kick chase onto an electric Japanese back three.
Hometown advantage will play a massive part come kick off tomorrow night and the 52 000 seater Tokyo Stadium will be packed to the rafters with mostly Japanese fans. Rumour has it that 1 Million Japanese jerseys has been sold so far and I can well believe that as I can`t find one left in the whole of Tokyo to buy for a friend.
As always it`s time to make a call and I think that The Boks will win by just more than one score or less……let`s say by 9 points.
Out of interest I will also say The All Blacks (comfortably), France and England to be the other semi-finalist.