Rugby World Cup
Japan coach Eddie Jones amazed as Japan Rugby World Cup heroes stun Springboks
PA
September 20, 2015
Japan shocked the world with a stunning win over the Springboks (video available in Australia only)

Japan coach Eddie Jones checked the scoreboard to be sure his eyes were not playing tricks after his team pulled off the greatest shock in Rugby World Cup history.

Jones looked on in delighted disbelief, along with 30,000 mesmerised spectators at Brighton's Amex Stadium, as the players who were 40/1 outsiders to win the match stunned mighty South Africa 34-32.

The Brave Blossoms, who have three players in their squad who were not even born when Japan had last won a World Cup match in 1991, created an upset which ranks among the most remarkable sport has ever known.

Karne Hesketh's 84th-minute try capped a mesmerising performance from a side who usually play the role of group stage cannon fodder as Japan somehow beat the two-time world champions, who were 500/1 on to win the match.

© 2015 Getty Images/2015 Getty Images

Australian Jones 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.

"We are not done. If we make the quarter-finals then I can retire. I want to be like Clive Woodward. That's my dream."

Eddie Jones was praised by his players while fullback Ayumy Goromaru, who equaled Matt Burke's 1999 Rugby World Cup record of scoring 24 points in one match, credited Japan's shock win with their hard work at training.

"We've been going through the toughest training in the world for this past four years to make history," Goromaru said. "I'm glad we've managed to not only surprise our own fans back in Japan, but also fans across the world."

It wasn't just fans who were shocked but also the South Africans who found themselves starring in their own horror movie.

They trailed 10-7 midway through the first half thanks to a try from Japan's New Zealand-born captain Michael Leitch, which cancelled out Francois Louw's score, but led by two at half-time after Bismarck Du Plessis went over.

Lood De Jager and Adriaan Strauss scored under the posts in the second half but a try from full-back Ayumu Goromaru, as well as his nerveless kicking, drew Japan level at 29-29 with just 10 minutes to play.

When Handre Pollard kicked a penalty with five minutes remaining it appeared South Africa would at least avoid a humiliating defeat.

But relentless pressure from Japan paid off when rather than take a penalty for a draw, they were rewarded for their bravery when Hesketh scored in the left corner.

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer said: "We let our country down, we weren't good enough but all credit to Japan, they played really well.

"I knew they would be tough but we knew what to expect. But we gave away too many penalties and just couldn't get going. Scoring four tries should be enough but our discipline wasn't good enough.

"I'm not going to blame the players, I picked the guys and have confidence in them. I take full responsibility and I still believe in these players.

"I said before, this will be the toughest World Cup ever and I think there will be more shocks. I still believe we can win the World Cup, but I have to press some hard buttons to try to fix it."

© Julian Finney/Getty Images
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