Kotaro Matsushima (C) scores a try
Japan’s “Ferraris” hit top gear Sunday as the hosts beat Scotland 28-21 in a barnstorming Rugby World Cup clash to create history by reaching the quarter-finals.
Rampaging wingers Kotaro Matsushima and Kenki Fukuoka did the damage for Japan, who survived a late fightback in Yokohama to advance as Pool A winners along with Ireland. The Brave Blossoms will face two-time world champions South Africa in Tokyo next weekend after making it a perfect four wins out of four, roared on by a crowd of 67,000.
Fukuoka, scorer of Japan’s try in their 19-12 upset over Ireland, grabbed two more in Yokohama with Matsushima notching his fifth of the tournament for the rampant Japanese. After a war of words between the rival coaches in the build-up, the teams observed a moment’s silence for the victims of the violent typhoon that swept through Japan on Saturday, killing at least 26 and forcing organisers to scrap three pool games.
The needle between the sides quickly resurfaced in Sunday’s typhoon-threatened Pool ‘A’ decider, however, as both teams put in some monstrous early tackles.
Scotland needed to win while preventing Japan from securing a defensive bonus point -- and they got off to a flying start.
Early pressure told as fly-half Finn Russell broke through to give them the lead after just seven minutes.
But the Japanese hit back quickly with Matsushima latching onto a superb, one-handed offload from Fukuoka to score his fifth try
of the tournament.