India needed just 12 balls on the fourth day in Ranchi to wrap up a comprehensive victory by an innings and 202 runs in the Third test and a maiden series whitewash of South Africa.

Shahbaz Nadeem removed Theunis de Bruyn and Lungi Ngidi with the final two balls of the second over to finish with four wickets on his debut and consign the Proteas to their heaviest loss to India, eclipsing the record set in the second Test in Pune.

The tourists added a solitary run to their overnight score of 132-8 before De Bruyn, a concussion substitute for Dean Elgar, edged behind for 30.

Ngidi failed to delay the inevitable, the tailender dismissed the following ball in a bizarre caught and bowled as his shot deflected off Anrich Nortje at the non-striker's end and presented Nadeem with a simple catch.

South Africa had been forced to bat again on Monday after crumbling to 162 all out in response to India's 497-9 declared.

India now have five wins from five in the World Test Championship and hold a commanding 180-point lead at the top of the table.

The Rugby World Cup semi-finals will feature the top four teams in world rugby after the rankings were updated following the quarter-finals.

England and South Africa, courtesy of their convincing wins over Australia and hosts Japan respectively, both climbed one place.

Eddie Jones' side moved above Wales into second, behind defending world champions New Zealand - who England face on Saturday - and the Springboks leapfrogged Ireland.

Six Nations champions Wales beat France 20-19, though even a larger margin of victory would not have kept them from dropping down to third.

Japan had risen to their highest ever ranking after Australia's defeat to England, but the Wallabies moved back into sixth after the Brave Blossoms' loss to South Africa.

France are seventh, with Japan eighth, ahead of Scotland and Argentina, who complete the top 10.

Despite their exit at the hands of South Africa, Japan have won over many fans at the World Cup, with coach Jamie Joseph believing his side are well on their way to becoming a top-five team.

"The team has worked incredibly hard for three years, and this year we worked harder than we've worked ever before," Joseph told a news conference.

"That's put us in a really good position to strive for our goals, which is making the top five in the world."

South Africa are on the verge of suffering a 3-0 series defeat to India after they were reduced to 132-8 in their follow-on enforced second innings in Ranchi. 

Having started day three of the final Test on 9-2, the Proteas were twice dismantled by India's rampant pace attack on Monday.

Zubayr Hamza's knock of 62 was the best South Africa had to offer in their first innings, as they were bowled out for 162, 335 runs shy of India's total.

Virat Kohli enforced the follow-on and India's pace attack - spearheaded by Mohammed Shami - once again made light work of the visitors' batting order.

Theunis de Bruyn (30 not out), a concussion substitute for Dean Elgar, offered some resistance, though India need just two wickets to round off a dominant series triumph with South Africa still 203 runs in arrears.

Things started as they would go on - South Africa captain Faf du Plessis (1) succumbing to a fine delivery from Umesh Yadav.

Hamza, with assistance from Temba Bavuma (32), managed to steady the ship somewhat, and amassed his first Test 50 with a sublime six over mid-on.

But Hamza's resistance was ended when, one delivery after he survived an India review, the 24-year-old was bowled by Ravindra Jadeja.

Bavuma followed in the next over and, after Heinrich Klaasen (6) went before lunch, South Africa collapsed after the restart, losing four wickets for 33 runs.

India were swiftly back on the wicket trail after enforcing the follow on - Yadav sending Quinton de Kock's (5) off-stump tumbling while Shami dismissed Hamza (0), Du Plessis (4) and Bavuma (0) in quick succession.

Elgar was forced to retire hurt after he was clattered on the helmet by Yadav and, though his replacement De Bruyn held firm, the Proteas could not stem the flow of wickets - Dane Piedt (23) and Kagiso Rabada (12) offering nothing more than short-lived cameos.

Rassie Erasmus was thankful South Africa "knew which buttons to push" to fend off the threat of another Rugby World Cup defeat to Japan.

After their stunning loss to the Brave Blossoms four years ago in Brighton, it was a different story at the Tokyo Stadium on Sunday as South Africa emerged 26-3 winners.

They will face Wales in the semi-finals next Sunday in Yokohama, and the Springboks were buoyant after seeing off familiar foes in the quarters.

But the lead had been just 5-3 at half-time, and Erasmus admitted: "We were nervous."

He and his coaching staff largely stayed out of dressing-room discussions, leaving it for the likes of captain Siya Kolisi to set minds at ease.

"Going in at half-time only being up a few points and leaving a few tries out there, there was definitely a little bit of a lull and a quietness in our changing room," Erasmus said.

"But I think, being together for 17 weeks, the guys knew which buttons to push to get ourselves out of that lull and come out and produce in the second half. We're very proud of that."

Makazole Mapimpi grabbed his second try of the game and man of the match Faf de Klerk also dotted down as South Africa gradually ground down the energetic hosts.

Erasmus praised the "intensity and tenacity" of Japan, suggesting they would be worthy additions to the Rugby Championship – currently contested by the Springboks, Australia, South Africa and Argentina – if logistics made it viable.

"I do know the brand they play is pretty exciting and it would really fit in," said Erasmus, calling it "a nice proposition" but stressing he had not been party to any such discussions.

Erasmus was thrilled with the defensive strength of his team, as they nullified Japan's attacking vibrancy when both Ireland and Scotland had succumbed.

"I think we trust our system really well and we know defence is a pretty important thing if you want to win a World Cup," Erasmus added in his post-match news conference.

The former Munster coach thinks his experience in the Pro14 competition, facing Welsh club sides, could be useful as South Africa when to clear the last hurdle before the final.

"I've got good hidings against Scarlets and those guys when I was coaching Munster, and good wins against them as well," he said.

"They are definitely a team with a lot of X factor, but one thing that strikes me about them ... is they've got a great coaching staff and I think they've created depth in every single position.

"They've got good confidence, great team spirit. It'll be a big challenge for us. Knowing the way the Welsh teams play may help me a little bit."

Rohit Sharma labelled his maiden Test double century as "probably the most challenging" innings he has played.

India took complete control of the third and final Test against South Africa on day two in Ranchi, with Rohit scoring 212 from 225 deliveries to help the hosts to 497-9 declared, the Proteas reaching stumps on 9-2 in reply.

Rohit, who had three double hundreds in ODIs but never in the five-day format, faced a nervy wait after lunch was called while he was on 199.

The 32-year-old, who has excelled at the top of the order having endured a stop-start Test career to date, then saw out a maiden over upon resumption before finally getting over the line with an excellent pull for six off Lungi Ngidi. 

Asked about his wait, Rohit said: "That's the nature of the game. You can't do anything about it. I wouldn't say it's frustrating. It's just the laws of the game. 

"The time [a session] has to finish, it has to finish on that time.

"From my side, I wasn't thinking about that at all. Because I knew the time will come and whenever it's supposed to happen, it will happen. I was just trying to be positive, think positive at that particular time. 

"I know it can be frustrating at times but there's nothing you can do about it. I just went back happy [at lunch], you know, 199 not out, I'd take that any day."

Rohit now has six centuries in Test cricket but conceded this was the toughest innings he has played.

"I haven't played much, I have played only 30 Test matches," he added. 

"Yes, in terms of what was thrown at me in this particular Test match, I would definitely say that it was probably the most challenging one."

India had stumbled to 39-3 on day one before Rohit was joined by Ajinkya Rahane, with the duo putting on an outstanding fourth-wicket stand of 267.

"We've seen Ajinkya for so many years, the way his Test career has progressed, and whenever the team has been in a difficult situation, he's come and rescued us," Rohit said. 

"This isn't something he's done just once or twice, he's done it in many innings. This shows how strong he is, mentally, and how much hunger he has, to be able to steer the team out of bad situations.

"We've seen it outside India, we've seen it in India as well, so Ajinkya's Test graph, it's climbing one step at a time, and there can't be anything better for the team, because if your middle order is strong, whatever situation comes, you're confident that one guy will always put his hand up and take the team forward."

Jamie Joseph showed how much it hurt as Japan's journey at the Rugby World Cup ended with defeat at the merciless hands of South Africa.

An absorbing tussle at Tokyo Stadium was only one-sided in the closing minutes as South Africa pulled away to win 26-3 and set up a semi-final against Wales next Sunday.

After winning all four of their group games, and having beaten South Africa against all odds at the last World Cup, there were growing hopes in Japan that the tournament hosts could spring another surprise.

It was not to be though, with South Africa's resolute defence repelling the threat of Japan's scintillating backs.

Coach Joseph said: "At the end of the day I'm so proud of my team.

"[They showed] the courage, the tenacity, certainly the determination. I really have to take my hat off to the team.

"And I have to thank the fans - we wouldn't be here if we didn't have the support of the whole country. It's been marvellous."

Joseph appeared to start welling up as his post-match television interview continued, adding: "We're really proud of what we've achieved at the World Cup. We're going to enjoy that a little bit later on.

"I'm disappointed for the players because they give so much to the group and they gave so much to the country in this World Cup."

With his voice faltering, Joseph, who succeeded Eddie Jones after the last World Cup, told the tournament interviewer: "It's been a little bit disappointing, mate."

Captain Michael Leitch signed off his post-match interview with the comment: "Japan's only going to get stronger."

That remains to be seen, but recent reports that Joseph could stay on as coach appear to offer promise.

Leitch accepted the better side won the day, as the Brave Blossoms bowed out.

"Test match rugby is all about creating opportunities and taking your moments," Leitch said.

"I think we had a few opportunities to capitalise on and unfortunately South Africa kept us out, and with their powerful set-piece they had us going backwards.

"Congratulations to the South Africa team - they played their A game and they played it very well.

"I'm extremely proud of what this team's done - Jamie has done an excellent job. And the fans, the country ... I think we've done them proud."

Abandoned, crumbling stadiums and empty, cracked swimming pools. Plummeting participation and dwindling interest. Platitudes and empty gestures.

The reality of sporting legacy is it rarely delivers. A capricious concept dressed up as big-hearted altruism, often propagated by politicians fishing for likes; the cornerstone of bid documents, legacy can look great on PowerPoint but has little influence at pitch level.

Any nation can birth a sporting jamboree. The woozy thrill of conception is followed by a deliciously pregnant wait and then a rush of endorphins on arrival. Postpartum reality is rather more complicated.

Material legacy is often found in infrastructure – the road and rail and housing improvements that any responsible government should be carrying out, global sporting spectacle or not.

The real sporting legacies are bound up in memories created on the field, which is why Japan's Rugby World Cup will live long, despite Sunday's 26-3 quarter-final loss to South Africa; which is why the Springboks' 1995 home triumph - Nelson Mandela their 16th man - so resonated.

Even if the Land of the Rising Sun will not see its own heroes crowned as World Cup champions in Yokohama next month, their brand of attacking, running rugby has lit up the tournament.

By reaching the knockout stage for the first time, Japan piqued interest of millions who never previously gave rugby a second glance. Perhaps the Brave Blossoms themselves have peaked, after the huge investment it has taken to reach this point, to forge a team capable of taking on - and beating - some of the world's best. To guarantee Japan - a team who lost 145-17 to New Zealand at the 1995 World Cup - would not only avoid humiliation but become everyone's favourite second team.

Japan were named as hosts a full decade ago, and in tandem with world rugby chiefs signed up to an Impact Beyond 2019 legacy project, designed to grow rugby throughout Asia. The message seems to be that, despite Japan hosting a whole blimming bells-and-whistles World Cup, the sport still needs to be force-fed into the culture long after the tournament ends.

Investment in Japan's team has been spectacularly well-judged, with previous coaches John Kirwan and Eddie Jones building the platform for Jamie Joseph's current squad to dazzle a domestic and worldwide audience over the past month.

Over 50 million people in Japan reportedly watched the crucial pool win over Scotland. That is almost half the nation. Even more will surely have tuned in for the Springboks clash, viewers who will dictate the long-term positioning of rugby within Japanese sport.

Baseball is number one, with sumo, football, tennis, wrestling, golf, basketball and a host more traditionally ahead of rugby.

Next year the passion of the Japanese people will shift to Olympic sport, when Tokyo stages the 2020 Games.

They are spoiled for choice. We are all spoiled for choice.

Rugby has made a breakthrough, Japan gave the world a team to adore in the Blossoms, but not every great show needs an after-party. Despite a rash of giddy think pieces - meta - Japan really aren't on track to rival the All Blacks.

Perhaps they will flower again in four years' time; perhaps the screaming, roaring fans that packed out Tokyo Stadium on Sunday will have more reasons to celebrate in France.

But after this success was created with precision tooling, enormous wads of yen, and awash with a strong flavouring of imported delicacies, now is surely the time for Japanese rugby to be left to evolve naturally.

Perhaps this isn't the start of something big. Perhaps it's the end of something big. The miracle of Brighton. Six World Cup victories in a row. Sassy wing twins Kenki Fukuoka and Kotaro Matsushima.

Sayonara for now, Japan. You played your part supremely well.

Rassie Erasmus felt the scoreline in South Africa's Rugby World Cup quarter-final victory over Japan was not a true reflection of how the game played out.

The Springboks progressed to a last-four meeting with Wales by vanquishing the demons of their shock loss to the Brave Blossoms in the 2015 World Cup with a 26-3 triumph in Tokyo on Sunday.

Makazole Mapimpi, who scored a hat-trick in a 41-7 win over Jamie Joseph's side in a warm-up match in September, put the Rugby Championship winners ahead after four minutes but Japan dominated the possession and territory in the rest of the opening period.

However, the hosts were only able to register three points from the boot of Yu Tamura while Tendai Mtawarira was in the sin bin for a tip tackle on Keita Inagaki and went into the break 5-3 down.

The Springboks showed greater discipline and control in the second period, with Handre Pollard nudging them clear via a trio of penalties before Faf de Klerk and Mapimpi crossed in the final 14 minutes to put them out of sight.

Erasmus said: "In both games we played [against Japan] the score doesn't reflect how tough it was. At half-time it was 5-3 and then we got one or two runaway tries.

"This was a five- or six-point game – the margin we got at the end wasn't a true reflection.

"They were very determined. Their substitutions made a hell of a difference. This Japanese team is well coached, they're fit, they're tough, they're tight and they've got great support, so at the end of the day we must be satisfied with the win."

The Springboks were guilty of excessive handling errors in promising areas in the opening period but Erasmus praised Japan's defence as he set his sights on the Webb Ellis Cup.

"It was frustrating, we had two or three tries in the first half that because of knock-ons we didn't score, which could've taken it away from them," added the South Africa boss.

"But then again the way they defend and the way they scramble, it just shows the character of their team.

"We want to try to go all the way. Now we've got Wales. They are ranked higher than us and they got a win against France this weekend. We will start tomorrow on them, but we'll enjoy tonight and know the next two weeks will be tough."

Captain Siya Kolisi was impressed by the fight Japan put up and was proud of his team for keeping things close in a tough first half for South Africa.

"We knew what Michael Leitch and his boys were going to bring today. They said all week they were coming for us in our set-piece and it took a lot out of us to keep on fighting," said Kolisi.

"But credit to my boys, we fought, we ground it out. You really should be proud of your team, they gave it everything out there.

"We knew how fast they can play the game and they play a style that's fearless and that's exactly what they said they'd do this week and they didn't shy away from it today.

"We knew we had to get up, especially when we were one man down - I'm really glad the boys didn't concede a lot of points there. That's what we pride ourselves on, hard-working defence."

South Africa gained vengeance for their shock loss to Japan in 2015 by comfortably defeating the Brave Blossoms 26-3 in an enthralling Rugby World Cup quarter-final in Tokyo.

Japan pulled off a stunning 34-32 triumph over the Springboks in the previous tournament but were unable to repeat the trick in their first appearance in the last eight as their dream run on home soil ended.

South Africa captain Siya Kolisi said in the build-up that a 41-7 victory over Jamie Joseph's side in September provided a measure of revenge, though they secured the ultimate tonic to book a semi-final against Wales.

Makazole Mapimpi scored a hat-trick in the warm-up meeting and this time touched down either side of Faf de Klerk's try as Japan were punished for failing to make the most of an impressive first-half display.

After the high of reaching the quarter-finals, Japan were brought down to earth inside four minutes when De Klerk fed Mapimpi off the scrum and the wing breezed through the challenge of Yu Tamura to race in at the left corner.

The Springboks had Tendai Mtawarira sent to the sin bin on his 100th Test start for a tip tackle on Keita Inagaki, yet a penalty won against the feed at the scrum that Tamura slotted between the posts was all Japan had to show for their numerical advantage.

Japan continued to dominate the possession and territory when South Africa were restored to their full complement, though they were unable to capitalise and move ahead before the break.

Handre Pollard atoned for failing to convert Mapimpi's try by splitting the posts with a trio of penalties within 16 minutes of the restart, helping the Springboks edge clear.

Rassie Erasmus' men were far more disciplined in the second half and moved well out of sight when De Klerk crossed following an unstoppable rolling maul.

Mapimpi put the result beyond all doubt with 10 minutes remaining when he fended off Kotaro Matsushima for a second try to keep the Rugby Championship winners in the hunt for another trophy.

 

Japan's journey ends

Victories over Ireland and Scotland - the latter in an incredibly emotional shoot-out for progression in the wake of Typhoon Hagibis - provided the hosts with unforgettable moments they will hope help continue the development of rugby union in Japan. While they were unable to replicate the miracle of Brighton from four years ago, they can be incredibly proud of their displays in 2019.

All-action De Klerk

Sale Sharks scrum-half De Klerk dictated the play and provided a calming presence for South Africa in a difficult first period littered with handling errors. He made some important tackles to keep the Brave Blossoms at bay and was rewarded with a deserved try in the 66th minute.

Rohit Sharma completed his first Test double hundred and Ajinkya Rahane added a century of his own as India moved into complete control of the third Test in Ranchi.

Starting day two on 224-3, India piled on the runs to declare on 497-9 and then reduced South Africa to 9-2 before bad light prematurely halted Sunday's action.

Rohit rapidly progressed his overnight total of 117 and reached a double century for the first time in the longest form of the game, having previously done so three times in ODIs.

His total had reached 212 from 255 deliveries when he finally fell to Kagiso Rabada, while Rahane moved from 83 to complete his 11th Test hundred with an innings of 115.

Bad light meant only five overs of South Africa's reply were possible, but that was enough for India to put the tourists in complete disarray after openers Dean Elgar (0) and Quinton de Kock (4) were removed.

Captain Faf du Plessis (1 not out) and Zubayr Hamza (0no) will return to the crease on Monday with their side right up against it in their efforts to avoid a 3-0 series whitewash.

The fourth-wicket partnership between Rohit and Rahane had reached 267 before Rahane finally fell shortly before lunch, caught behind after some sharp turn earned George Linde his first Test wicket, the debutant then going on to claim figures of 4-133.

Rohit smashed 28 fours along with six maximums, one of which got him to his double ton after he went into lunch tantalisingly close on 199. His brilliant effort came to an end when he was caught at fine leg when trying to take on Rabada (3-85).

Ravindra Jadeja scored 51 and Umesh Yadav whacked five sixes in an explosive 31 from just 10 balls as useful partnerships right down the India order ensured the hosts were just shy of 500 before Virat Kohli opted to declare.

Mohammed Shami dismissed Elgar for a duck with only the second ball of the innings in a dreadful start for the Proteas.

De Kock followed in the next over when he was unable to cope with a short ball from Yadav, wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha claiming his second catch as India piled on the pressure.

Batting coach Vikram Rathour says having an in-form Rohit Sharma at the top of the order changes the dynamic of the India side after he made another century on day one of the third Test against South Africa.

Rohit was unbeaten on 117 and Ajinkya Rahane 83 not out when stumps were drawn due to bad light, with India on 224-3 as they bid to secure a 3-0 whitewash after being reduced to 39-3 in Ranchi on Saturday.

The selectors promoted Rohit to open for the first time in the longest format in the series against the Proteas and the 32-year-old has grasped his opportunity, making three hundreds.

Rathour has been impressed with the application Rohit has shown following his promotion and always felt there should be a place for the dangerous right-hander in all three formats.

"He is such an experienced player I don't think you needed to do anything with his technique, the only adjustment I think he had to make was his game plans," said Rathour

"In Test cricket you need to play through those tough spells and I think he's doing that really well in this series.

"If he can keep doing that, once he's set, then he is a phenomenal player - we all know that - he can really punish you. He needed to make that mental adjustment to his game plans and he's done that well. 

"I always said he's too good a player not to be playing in any format, so I think it was a good call to get him to open and with the amount of runs scored of course, I think he has settled the issue for the time being.

"Somebody with his experience and the kind of cricket he plays, if he starts coming good for you at the top of the order that changes everything for the Indian dynamic - even when you are touring."

 

Rohit Sharma made his third century of the series and Ajinkya Rahane was also closing in on a hundred as India hit back after a poor start on day one of the third Test against South Africa in Ranchi.

Kagiso Rabada took two early wickets in a magnificent new-ball spell and India - who gave a debut to Shahbaz Nadeem - were 39-3 when Anrich Nortje removed Virat Kohli for 12.

That was as good as it got for a Proteas side that included five changes - with Heinrich Klaasen and George Linde handed Test bows - as an unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 185 between Rohit (117 not out) and Rahane (83no) put India in control.

Rohit punished the Proteas attack with a combination of exquisite timing and power in his new role at the top of the order and Rahane played with great fluency in a classy knock.

India were 224-3 when bad light brought play to a premature end as they bid to secure a 3-0 whitewash.

Rabada (2-54) roared in to raise South Africa's spirits after their hammering in Pune last week, the in-form Mayank Agarwal (10) edging the paceman to Dean Elgar at third slip off the final ball of the fifth over.

Cheteshwar Pujara soon followed without scoring when he was struck on the back pad and given leg before wicket, with Rabada then denied a third wicket as Rohit overturned an lbw decision.

Nortje claimed the huge scalp of Kohli, who made a Test-best 254 not out last week, by getting one to nip back in and strike the skipper bang in front.

Rohit and Rahane saw India through to 71-3 at lunch and played with great freedom as the runs flowed in the afternoon session, Rabada twice taken for 13 in an over.

The aggressive Rohit and Rahane attacked Dane Piedt and the opener reached three figures for the sixth time in the longest format by disdainfully dispatching the spinner for one of four sixes in his imperious knock.

Rahane also lofted Piedt down the ground for six, while Linde bowled with reasonable control, but the breakthrough was not forthcoming and only 58 overs had been bowled when stumps were drawn under dark clouds.

Michael Leitch declared "the end is not here" as Japan plot another sensational defeat of South Africa in their first Rugby World Cup quarter-final on Sunday.

The hosts reached the last eight for the first time with a 28-21 victory over Scotland in a decisive match in Yokohama last weekend.

Japan avoided New Zealand by topping Pool A but face a huge test against the Springboks at Tokyo Stadium.

The Brave Blossoms pulled off one of the great sporting upsets by beating the two-time champions in Brighton at the last World Cup four years ago and captain Leitch says history can repeat itself.

"We're not satisfied; the end is not here," the number eight said.

"We'll play in the last eight and have another chance to show our game to our people. Each of us are playing to have more of that opportunity.

"South Africa looked really scary at the start of the week, but we begin to feel really excited as we understand the game and think about how to break them down. That fear gradually fades and confidence rises."

Japan were thrashed 41-7 by the Rugby Championship holders in a pre-tournament Test last month and Springboks captain Siya Kolisi says that served as a small measure of revenge. 

"That was very tough to lose that match in England. That stuck with us until that game when we got here [before this World Cup]," the flanker said. "It's something that we never want to go through again."

He added: "They are a much better team now, and it was good to play that game before the World Cup, just to get that monkey off our back.

"Now it's a different game again. We are going to have to be at our best again, because they have really improved as a team - they are much better now than four years ago. So we are looking forward to the challenge."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Japan – Michael Leitch

The inspirational Leitch and his opposite number Kolisi are set for another monumental battle, while also keeping calm heads and ensuring their sides stay disciplined with so much at stake. 

Leitch will need to lead by example again after an inspired display against Scotland.

South Africa - Cheslin Kolbe

Kolbe missed the Springboks' final pool match against Canada as a precautionary measure after taking a blow to his ankle in the victory over Italy.

The livewire wing claimed a clinical double in the 49-3 drubbing of the Azzurri and also touched down twice in the warm-up rout of Japan, so the hosts must be wary of the threat he poses.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Japan's victory over South Africa in England was their first against a tier one nation in the tournament at their 16th attempt.
- South Africa scored more tries (27) and points (185) than any other side in the pool stage. Japan scored have scored only 13 tries en route to the last eight. 
- Japan made 559 metres against Scotland, the third time in the tournament they had made 500 plus metres in a match.
- Springboks wing Kolbe averaged 12.8 metres per carry in the pool stage, the best rate of any player to make at least 10 carries.
- South Africa won all of their 47 line-outs on their own throw in the pool stage, the only side in the tournament to have a 100 per cent success rate.

Such was the scale of Japan's Rugby World Cup victory over South Africa four years ago, they made a movie - 'The Brighton Miracle' - to commemorate one of the great sporting upsets.

There will surely be a sequel on the way after this year's Brave Blossoms reached the quarter-finals for the first time by beating Scotland, and box-office sales could soar through the roof if history repeats itself on Sunday when they face the Springboks again.

South Africa will start the last-eight contest as overwhelming favourites to gain revenge, with their star-studded cast including Cheslin Kolbe, Faf de Klerk and Pieter-Steph du Toit.

Japan also have no shortage of talent to play leading roles and will be backed by a raucous crowd when they attempt to break new ground once again on home soil.

As the Boks plot to spoil the party for their hosts, we reflect on how Japan pulled off a monumental shock at the last World Cup in England, as well as looking at the prospects of lightning striking twice.

 

Hesketh and Goromaru rock Boks

Japan were not given a prayer in the opening Pool B match given Zimbabwe were the only team they had previously beaten in a World Cup match – and that win was way back in 1991.

Yet Eddie Jones' side humiliated a vastly experienced Springboks team with their exciting brand of rugby, coming from behind to secure the most dramatic and unlikely of victories.

Karne Hesketh crossed right at the death and Ayumu Goromaru claimed a 24-point haul to leave the two-time champions not knowing what had hit them following a 34-32 loss.

 

Meyer fronts up to 'Boklash'

Heyneke Meyer came under fire after his side lost the plot and rampant Japan made them pay.

The then-head South Africa coach said: "I have to apologise to the nation. It was just not good enough. It was unacceptable and I take full responsibility.

"Every game is going to be tough but there are no excuses."

 

Jones: I had to look at the scoreboard

Jones, who landed the England job after his success with Japan in 2015, was pinching himself after the underdogs snatched victory with their last throw of the dice. 

The Australian said: "Japan beating South Africa? I had to look at the scoreboard at the end just to see if it was true or not. We kept hanging in there. It looked at one stage when they got seven points ahead that they would run away with it.

"That would have been the normal scenario, like the horror story where the woman goes for a shower after midnight and you know what's going to happen. Normally they would score three or four, it ends up 50-20 and everyone says, 'Well done Japan, you tried hard, you were brave'. But we were more than brave."

 

What happened next?

Jones said the objective for Japan was to go on and reach the quarter-finals after downing the two-time champions, but they fell agonisingly short.

A heavy defeat to Scotland turned out to be crucial as Japan finished third in Pool B after failing to pick up any bonus points.

South Africa, Scotland and the Brave Blossoms all won three and lost one of their four games, but it was Japan who missed out.

 

Hope springs eternal for revenge-seeking Boks

Although Japan are riding on the crest of a wave as they prepare for their first World Cup knockout match, South Africa have looked formidable despite making a losing start against New Zealand.

Potent in attack and solid in defence, the Springboks have turned their fortunes around under Rassie Erasmus and dethroned the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship.

They also hammered Japan 41-7 in a pre-tournament warm-up match and is it hard to envisage them suffering another upset at the hands of their next opponents.

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis joked he is considering sending another player to the toss for the third Test against India as he aims to correct his side's recent woes.

The Proteas are 2-0 down in the series after suffering heavy defeats in Visakhapatnam and Pune.

With the three-match series already lost, South Africa head to Ranchi looking to restore some pride as a frustrating 2019 draws closer towards a conclusion.

Du Plessis cited winning the toss as a crucial factor but, with South Africa having lost their last nine coin-flips on Asian soil going back to 2015, failing to win any of the subsequent Tests – the Proteas' skipper conceded he might have to send out a substitute in order to change their luck.

"We've felt that we've done it [compete] in stages, more probably in the first Test, so hoping that we can start with the toss tomorrow," Du Plessis told reporters.

"Probably I will [send] somebody else to the toss, I'll give you that, because my record so far hasn't been great, and then, yeah, if we put big runs on the board in the first innings, that's where we need to start."

Du Plessis also acknowledged his side – who lost the first Test by 203 runs and the second by an innings – can only regain confidence by taking the fight to India.

"It is tough when you're losing," he said.

"For us, we're very, very competitive people, so it does take a dent out of your confidence, but international sport is supposed to be hard, and the guys who've stayed at the top for a long time will tell you that it comes with ups and it comes with downs, personally and from a team point of view.

"So it's important for us to understand that we have to fight our way out of these last two losses. We can't expect things just to happen."

South Africa's task has been made harder by the absence of batsman Aiden Markram, who will miss the final Test due to a wrist injury he sustained while "lashing out at a solid object" following his second-innings dismissal in Pune.

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