The last of the Rugby World Cup quarter final's comes from the Tokyo Stadium on Sunday where host nation Japan clash with South Africa and the Springboks start as the bookmakers favourites.
Japan v South Africa, Sunday 20th October, Toky Stadium, KO 12:15 (South African time)
Weather Forecast – Tokyo Stadium
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand), Luke Pearce (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)
Before this tournament started you could get upwards of 200/1 about Japan in the RWC outright betting and 16/1 for them to top their pool The hosts had Ireland and Scotland for company in Pool A but they won all 4 of their matches to finish 3 log points clear of the Irish who claimed the runners up spot.
Japan had started with a 30-10 bonus point win over Russia and then defied the odds to beat Ireland 19-12, a game they started as 20 point underdogs. A 38-19 win over Samoa still left Japan needing something from their final pool match against Scotland to be sure of a quarter final place. They were were slight underdogs for that game as well but they came through with a 28-21 victory
Japan have been ever present in RWC finals but this is their first appearance in the knockout rounds. They will take heart from a dramatic pool stage win over South Africa in RWC 2015 although a recent warm up game against the Boks saw them beaten comfortably.
Kotaro Matsushima is leading try scorer in the tournament for Japan with 5 and Kenki Fukuoka has scored 4.
The winner of this game will face either Wales or France in the semi's and Japan are now trading at around 33/1 to win the tournament and 16/1 to reach the final.
After losing their opening match of the tournament 23-13 to the All Blacks a runners up spot in Pool B was the target for the Boks, a mission they achieved with plenty of daylight. Bonus point victories over Namibia (57-3), Italy (49-3) and Canada (66-7) took the Boks try tally to 27 and the squad was rotated on a regular basis to keep key men fresh for the knockout rounds.
Cobus Reinach, Makazole Mapimpi and Bongo Mbonambi have all scored 3 tries for South Africa in the tournament so far.
South Africa's previous RWC titles came on home soil in 1995 and in France in 2007. In RWC 2015 the Boks recovered from the shock defeat to Japan to win the rest of their pool matches. A hard earned 23-19 win over Wales in the quarter finals was followed by a semi final exit to New Zealand (20-18) and a win over Argentina in the bronze play off.
South Africa are trading at around 100/30 to win the tournament and 8/11 to reach the final.
Japan: 15 Ryohei Yamanaka, 14 Kotaro Matsushima, 13 Timothy Lafaele, 12 Ryoto Nakamura, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Yutaka Nagare, 8 Kazuki Himeno, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Michael Leitch (captain), 5 James Moore, 4 Luke Thompson, 3 Koo Ji-won, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Keita Inagaki
Substitutes: 16 Atsushi Sakate, 17 Isileli Nakajima, 18 Asaeli Ai Valu, 19 Wimpie van der Walt, 20 Amanaki Lelei Mafi, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Rikiya Matsuda, 23 Lomano Lava Lemeki
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Franco Mostert, 21 Francois Louw, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn
Head to Head
The teams met in a warm up in Kumagaya last month and the Boks won 41-7, scoring 6 tries to 1, easily covering a minus handicap of around 20 points. The Boks led that game 20-0 at half time and Mapimpi scored a hat trick of tries and Kolbe a brace.
The only other head to head delivered a famous victory for Japan in Rugby World Cup 2015 in the pool stage. Japan won 34-32 in Brighton, a game the Boks had started as 33 point favourites.
Early Betting - Handicap
Japan +14.5 points at 9/10
South Africa -14.5 points at 9/10
Quotes are an average of what was on offer from a selection of bookmakers at the time of writing and are subject to change.
Japan have been brilliant in this World Cup but I am of the opinion that their race has been run. They will not get the same space against a physical Bok side and I expect Rassie to keep things simple with a batter them into submission approach.
At some point in the match I expect the pressure on the home team to tell and will back the Boks to beat the cap. 15 points sounds a lot for a quarter final but in 2015 New Zealand beat France by 49 and Argentina beat Ireland by 23 and these knockout games are often very close or more of a blow out as the trailing team are forced to chase and the pace setters can accumulate 3 pointers.
At the time of writing -14.5 was generally 9/10 but 19/20 at Sunbet and for those who like Japan Hollywood have +16.5 at 9/10.
Bet: 4 units South Africa -14.5 at 19/20 at Sunbet
Points and exotic bets
I will post my thoughts on the total points line and any exotic markets here on Saturday night – also keep an eye on the forum thread where punters share their views, information and bets.
Use It Or Lost It,RWC 1/4 Final Preview
Brent Graham is joined by Couch Critic, Judge Rugby and Brendon Shields to chat about the Rugby World Cup with a focus on the upcoming quarter finals.