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.

Dan Biggar is confident he is 100 per cent ready to return to action in Wales' Rugby World Cup quarter-final clash with France, according to Warren Gatland.

Biggar missed Wales' final Pool D match against Uruguay with concussion after suffering head knocks in consecutive matches against Australia and Fiji.

However, the Northampton Saints fly-half has been passed fit to start against France in Oita on Sunday.

It is a decision Gatland insisted has not taken lightly, but the Wales coach affirmed Biggar has no doubts over his fitness.

"We went through, made sure in terms of consulting the right people and making sure that they were aware of everything, getting him scanned, the independent consultant - that was important," said Gatland in a news conference.

"Dan's been fit for three or four days in terms of having passed those [concussion protocols], so we are taking all the proper precautions.

"But he's very confident that he's 100 per cent."

Gatland did, however, concede extra caution will have to be taken with Biggar should he sustain another head injury.

"He's desperate to play," Gatland added.

"We've just got to make sure if it does happen, if he gets a knock in the next few games, the next couple of months, obviously there would probably be a different course of action."

Wales skipper Alun Wyn Jones has also been selected and will join Brian O'Driscoll in third on the all-time list for international Test appearances with his 141st cap.

"It's one chance to stay or you know where you are going," he said of Wales' ambitions for Sunday's clash.

"It's funny because the planning for this has probably been in Warren's head for the last 10 years rather than the last four years, two years, or 18 months.

"He is constantly building and what we have achieved or have not comes down to this moment."

Warren Gatland is happy for Wales to fly under the radar at the Rugby World Cup, even if they are strong favourites to see off France and reach the semi-finals.

Australia coach Michael Cheika labelled the reigning Six Nations champions as favourites ahead of the Wallabies' clash with Gatland's side in Pool D.

Wales edged out Australia 29-25 on their way to finishing top of the group with a perfect record, yet Gatland believes other teams still left standing in the tournament are getting "a lot more talk" in the media.

Still, they will be strongly fancied to see off France in an all-European quarter-final tie, having come from 16-0 down to beat them 24-19 in Paris in their opening Six Nations match.

"If you take out the World Cup warm-up games, we have won 18 competitive games in a row, we are Grand Slam champions and we know, as we go on in tournaments, we get stronger and more confident and more cohesive as a unit," Gatland said.

"We are building nicely, going under the radar. There is still a lot more talk about other teams and games and that suits us. We've had a great record against France - we've won seven of the last eight games.

"There was an edge to this week and the players have been incredibly professional in the way they've prepared.

"The message to the players is you've got two choices – we are either on the plane on Monday going home or we are here until the end of the tournament."

Maxime Medard acknowledged France must rise to the challenge on Sunday, or else Wales will dominate them at Oita Stadium.

"If we don't raise our level, the Welsh are going to ride all over us," the full-back told the media. "The Welsh have to be favourites. The team has been one of the best in the world for several years.

"You have to keep in mind that the difference between the big teams and the rest is that, in games where you're in trouble, where it turns into an arm wrestle, the big teams don't give in. Wales are a very big team."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Wales – Josh Adams

Dan Biggar's availability is a boost to Wales, the fly-half fit to feature following a blow to the head against Fiji, but it is Josh Adams who seems most likely to grab the headlines.

Adams has scored five tries already and the Cardiff Blues wing will be eager to propel Wales into the last four.

France – Guilhem Guirado

Having been left out of France's past two matches following a reported bust-up with coach Jacques Brunel, hooker Guilhem Guirado will return to lead Les Bleus as captain.

If ever there was an opportunity to show his worth, then this will surely be it for the 33-year-old.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- France beat Wales 9-8 in the only previous World Cup meeting between the sides - the 2011 semi-final. Wales captain Sam Warburton was sent off after 18 minutes of the contest.

- Wales won all of their pool stage matches for the first time since 1987. This four-game winning streak is their joint longest at the World Cup and they have never won five in a row in the competition.

- Since the start of 2018, France have lost six Test matches in which they have been leading at half-time.

- Alun Wyn Jones is in line to play a record 19th World Cup match for Wales, surpassing Gethin Jenkins' tally of 18 appearances.

Sevu Reece and George Bridge add a "fearless" edge to New Zealand's squad for the Rugby World Cup quarter-final tie with Ireland, according to assistant coach Ian Foster.

Reece and Bridge have both impressed so far for the two-time defending champions in Japan and have made the cut for Steve Hansen's XV against Ireland on Saturday as two of the world's best teams face off.

The duo's inclusion sees Rieko Ioane and the experienced Ben Smith miss out on Hansen's 23-man squad, but Foster believes the World Cup debutants can be key.

"There is a little bit of fearlessness about them," Foster told a news conference.

"Some of it is probably because they haven't been at a World Cup before, they probably don't what is at stake, in some sense.

"But they are really sensible young men. They train hard, they play hard. When you haven't got Ben and Rieko in the group, that is a tough decision, because they are two pretty special people in our group.

"We just felt that George and Sevu have done enough. There is a bit of spark there and we will run with that."

Ireland lost to hosts Japan in their second outing but comfortable victories over Scotland, Russia and Samoa saw them progress, as they recovered some form following doubts coming into the tournament.

Foster sees confidence and momentum as the deciding factors in this last-eight tie.

"I am pretty sure they will have some tricks up their sleeve, and we like to think we have got a couple up our sleeve," he added.

"That is the nature of preparing for a big Test match. But to be honest, games like this are often not about a special trick or surprise. It is about your confidence, how you deal with the pressure and how you keep executing your own game.

"It is one thing to know each other's game, it's another to execute it properly and to stop the other person doing it. That is what play-offs are about, it is about having that composure to trust yourself and really back yourself to keep doing what you do well."

Jamie Joseph has made just one change heading into Japan's first appearance in a Rugby World Cup quarter-final, as Ryohei Yamanaka returns to the fold.

Full-back Yamanaka switched with William Tupou throughout the pool stage, with the latter starting against Scotland as the hosts secured their place in a World Cup knockout stage for the first time.

However, Tupou suffered a head injury 51 minutes into the triumph over Gregor Townsend's side and does not feature in the 23 for Sunday's showdown with in-form South Africa.

Yamanaka replaced Tupou against Scotland and the 31-year-old will start in Tokyo, with the only other changes coming among the replacements.

Amanaki Lelei Mafi had not featured since going off against Ireland, but Joseph is able to welcome the number eight back into the squad.

Wimpie van der Walt and Lomano Lemeki have been recalled to the bench, with Uwe Helu and Hendrik Tui missing out.

Jiwon Koo had been a doubt after sustaining a rib injury against Scotland but has been passed fit to start.

Kotaro Matsushima is tied with Wales' Josh Adams at the top of the try scoring charts with five, and starts again at right wing, while the tournament's leading points scorer Yu Tamura - he has 48 - is at fly half.


Japan: Ryohei Yamanaka, Kotaro Matsushima, Timothy Lafaele, Ryoto Nakamura, Kenki Fukuoka, Yu Tamura, Yutaka Nagare; Keita Inagaki, Shota Horie, Jiwon Koo, Luke Thompson, James Moore, Michael Leitch, Pieter Labuschagne, Kazuki Himeno.

Replacements: Atsushi Sakate, Isileli Nakajima, Asaeli Ai Valu, Wimpie van der Walt, Amanaki Lelei Mafi, Fumiaki Tanaka, Rikiya Matsuda, Lomano Lava Lemeki.

Captain Guilhem Guirado has been recalled to the starting XV for France's Rugby World Cup quarter-final with Wales, despite rumours of a bust-up with coach Jacques Brunel.

Hooker Guirado did not play in France's final two pool-stage games amid reports he had fallen out with Brunel, who it was claimed wanted to remove the captain from his position.

However, with Les Bleus players believed to have given their backing to Guirado, the skipper has been named in the line-up ahead of Camille Chat, who is back on the bench after starting against the United States and Tonga.

Brunel has also been boosted by scrum-half Antoine Dupont and wing Damian Penaud being declared fit.

Dupont had not started since France's opening World Cup match against Argentina due to a back problem, but will feature alongside Toulouse team-mate Romain Ntamack in the half-back pairing.

Penaud, who had complained of a stomach strain earlier in the week, will play on the right wing, with Yoann Huget preferred to Alivereti Raka on the other flank.

In total, 14 of the 15 players who started France's match against Argentina are retained, with Bernard Le Roux replacing Arthur Iturria in the only change from that team.

 

France team: Maxime Medard, Damian Penaud, Virimi Vakatawa, Gael Fickou, Yoann Huget, Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont; Jefferson Poirot, Guilhem Guirado, Rabah Slimani, Bernard Le Roux, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Wenceslas Lauret, Charles Ollivon, Gregory Alldritt.

Replacements: Camille Chat, Cyril Baille, Emerick Setiano, Paul Gabrillagues, Louis Picamoles, Baptiste Serin, Camille Lopez, Vincent Rattez.

Dan Biggar, Jonathan Davies and George North have all overcome fitness concerns to take their place in Wales' team for the Rugby World Cup quarter-final against France on Sunday.

Warren Gatland has been able to name the same team that defeated Australia in the pool stage with three of his key backs returning.

Fly-half Biggar missed the Uruguay game having taken a blow to the head when colliding with team-mate Liam Williams in the win over Fiji.

Centre Davies and winger North had been battling knee and ankle injuries respectively.

However, all three will start in Oita as Gatland's side seek to avenge their 2011 World Cup semi-final loss to Les Bleus.

Wales have won seven of their past eight fixtures against France since that last-four loss at Eden Park eight years ago.

Captain Alun Wyn Jones will move joint-third - level with Brian O'Driscoll - in the all-time international appearances list when he features in his 141st Test - nine of which have come with the British and Irish Lions.

 

Wales team: Liam Williams, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Tom Francis, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones, Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric, Josh Navidi.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Rhys Carre, Dillon Lewis, Adam Beard, Ross Moriarty, Tomos Williams, Rhys Patchell, Owen Watkin.

England will consider anything less than winning the Rugby World Cup as a failure, according to former world champion Jason Robinson.

Eddie Jones' side meet Australia in a quarter-final showdown in Oita on Saturday, having finished top of Pool C.

The Wallabies' 33-13 win at Twickenham four years ago dumped England out of their home World Cup in the pool stage, but Jones, who took over from Stuart Lancaster following that tournament, has overseen six straight wins over Australia since.

England looked in impressive form throughout their Pool C campaign, cruising to victories over Tonga, the United States and Argentina before their final match against France was cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis.

Beating Australia would see England face Ireland or holders New Zealand for a place in the final, and Robinson – a World Cup winner in 2003 – does not believe Jones' team can be content with anything short of becoming champions.

"Jones has done a great job - he's transformed them in a lot of ways," said Robinson, speaking to Omnisport on behalf of Land Rover, Official Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2019.

"England will want to win the World Cup, it's as simple as this.

"Getting beat in a semi or the quarters, it will all be seen as a failure if we don't win the World Cup. England are such in world rugby that second place isn't an achievement.

"Sometimes, in sports like football, you can celebrate getting into a semi-final, but it's England - we're the biggest rugby nation in the world.

"The guys have not turned up to get beaten in a semi or even the final. Success is winning the thing.

"There's no givens. [Jones] has taken the team forward in many different ways over the last four years and should be commended.

"But World Cups are all about winning, you can talk about finals as much as you want but you're either a winner or a loser. The only medals I get out are not the runner up ones."

However, Robinson conceded claiming a second World Cup title would be no mean feat against some of the sport's greatest sides. 

"If you're going to win this tournament, play Australia in the quarters, maybe New Zealand in the semis and potentially Wales or South Africa in a final," he added.

"There's no easy way to the final, you still have to beat the big teams. If England are to win, they'll have certainly earned it."

 

Land Rover is the official Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2019.  With over 20 years of heritage supporting rugby at all levels, Land Rover is celebrating what makes rugby, rugby. #LandRoverRugby

England head coach Eddie Jones said "someone is going to die" as he turned up the heat ahead of his side's Rugby World Cup blockbuster against Australia.

A spot in the World Cup semi-final will be up for grabs when England and rivals Australia meet in Oita on Saturday.

Expectations are high for England, who are led by former Wallabies coach Jones, and the 59-year-old Australian used ancient Japanese Warriors as a way to describe his team.

"How many samurai have we got: 23, mate. And we've got eight in the caves up there," Jones told reporters, pointing to the hills behind the England hotel in Beppu.

"That is where all the samurai lived. Every time the samurai fought, one lived, and one died. It will be the same on Saturday. Someone is going to live, and someone is going to die. That's what the game is about and that's the excitement. You get the best eight teams, all playing for their lives.

"The great thing about the World Cup is that every game is a knockout. No one has won a World Cup after losing a game and there is a reason for that. That's what I enjoy so much about a World Cup, every game is a knockout. Every game is potentially a knockout."

Jones, meanwhile, called on England skipper Owen Farrell to concentrate on himself after focusing on the team during the pool stage.

"The responsibility of being captain at the World Cup is much larger than normal test matches, because you're bringing a group of 31 players together for... how long have we been together now? Eight or nine weeks," Jones said.

"You get all the family issues. You go to the dinner table, one brother is happy, one brother is unhappy. Someone doesn't know if they are happy or not. He's the father of that group so to speak. His ability to delegate, to know what to say to players is a challenging experience for a young guy like him. He's coping with it really well. 

"I feel like sometimes, maybe earlier in the tournament, he spent too much time in the captaincy area and not enough on his own individual prep, but I've seen a real change in that this week.

"Why was [Australia cricket star] Steve Smith so successful in the Ashes? One of the reasons was he didn't have to worry about the bowling team, he didn't have to worry about setting fields. All he had to worry about was batting. It's much simpler when you're just a player. When you are captain, you've got more responsibilities, and as you go on as a captain you learn how to get the balance right.

"Owen is a warrior. He leads from the front, competes and he's tough. And that's what we've tried to produce in this team. We've got a tough team that competes hard and that's how we want to play. That's the England style of playing."

James Horwill is backing Australia to end their barren run against England and go on to win the Rugby World Cup.

The Wallabies have lost six consecutive games against England since knocking them out of the previous World Cup at Twickenham four years ago.

Eddie Jones' side are firm favourites to continue that sequence at Oita Stadium on Saturday and set up a semi-final against two-time defending champions New Zealand or Ireland. 

Yet former Australia captain Horwill thinks Michael Cheika's men can defy the odds and lift the Webb Ellis Cup for a third time.

Asked if the Wallabies can go all the way, he told Omnisport: "I don't see why not. They would get New Zealand next assuming they get past Ireland, which most people would expect them to do.

"It would obviously be challenging, but if we were able to perform as we did against New Zealand in Perth [where Australia were 47-26 winners in August] with a very dominant performance, there is no reason why we can't.

"It's just the consistency we need, which has been lacking over the last couple of years."

Horwill stressed the importance of Australia starting the game against England as they finished it in a 29-25 Pool D defeat to Wales last month, when they mounted a spirited fightback but gave themselves too much to do.

"You can see the way we play we are holding the ball and not kicking a lot. I don't see them changing the way they play." the 34-year-old ex-lock said.

"In the Wales game, we turned the ball over too much to start with. When you hold on to the ball, as we saw in that game, you can build pressure with gaining territory.

"That is a big part of the way the Australians have been playing, keep the ball and carry hard. If we can do that, we have some very damaging runners and a potent attack.

"The key is not allowing [England] to get into the position Wales were in to start with. Build the scoreboard, manage the game really well and hopefully not chase the game."

Eddie Jones praised his "good old mate" Michael Cheika ahead of Saturday's Rugby World Cup clash between England and Australia and said mentor Jeff Sayle would be proud of them.

Jones and Cheika have never need much encouragement to engage in verbal exchanges before showdowns between England and the Wallabies.

The former club-mates were exchanging compliments two days before a blockbuster quarter-final at Oita Stadium, and England head coach Jones thinks Randwick great Sayle - who died on October 1 - will be looking down with pride this weekend.

"They are a great tournament side. I think Cheik has done a really good job," Australian Jones said.

"I'm proud of the job he does. He's a good old mate of mine."

Jones added: "There will be a bloke in the sky who will be quite excited about Michael and I coaching against each other this week.

"I'm sure he's having a few beers next to St Peter now looking at the situation."

Wallabies boss Cheika thinks it is a shame Australian rugby is not benefiting from Jones' expertise.

"He's been there [in England] for a bit now hasn't he? He's done a good job for sure," Cheika said of the former Australia coach.

"It always hurts me when there's an Aussie over there. Trevor Bayliss and Eddie and, I don't know, Wayne Bennett. You want them at home but it is what it is. What do you do?"

Matt Toomua has an insight into opponents England from his time with Leicester Tigers, but his assessment of their "weaknesses" will be of little use in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final on Saturday.

Toomua spent three years in the Premiership with Leicester and is set to come face-to-face with a number of former Tigers team-mates in Oita this weekend. 

The versatile 29-year-old is among the Australia replacements to take on an England side including the likes of Manu Tuilagi, Ben Youngs and Jonny May, with George Ford and Dan Cole on the bench.

Asked for his thoughts on his ex-colleagues, Toomua told a news conference: "I know all their weaknesses. I can list them now for you if you want.

"Manu is a terrible snooker player, George Ford never pays for a beer, Ben Youngs isn't even the best rugby player in his family, let alone his country.

"The chicken, Jonny May, is very weird, and Dan Cole doesn't have a personality. I've just been telling everybody about that."

Shifting to a more serious tone, he added: "No, we had a great relationship with them and one thing we do know is they're all quality players. We were fortunate for the last couple of years when Manu came back from injury, we just saw him grow in stature.

"He probably grows the bigger the game as well. He probably plays his best rugby in Tests, and that's the sign of a true champion player.

"Obviously Manu is a name that sticks out for a lot of reasons - he is a strong carrier and makes a lot of big plays. But it is probably about trying to shut down his time and space.

"He is at 12 now so he is a bit closer to the play, so it might be a little easier in that sense. I'm sure they're working out ways to give him some ball one-on-one at full steam."

While Tuilagi is a very real threat to Australia from the outset, Ford lost the number 10 shirt to Owen Farrell despite an impressive tournament to date.

Captain Farrell said: "I've played fly-half plenty of times before, I'm fine with playing fly-half. It's more about how I can fit in the team and hopefully put us in a place to perform well at the weekend."

Australia may have lost six successive matches to England, but Michael Cheika insisted "the fear inside us is dead" ahead of their Rugby World Cup quarter-final.

A 33-13 win for the Wallabies four years ago ensured England suffered an embarrassing pool-stage exit at the World Cup on home soil and prompted the Rugby Football Union to hire Australian Eddie Jones as their new head coach.

Tasmanian Jones has had Cheika's number ever since, with England winning each of their six meetings between 2016 and 2018.

However, that record is not weighing on the mind of Cheika, who has already said he will walk away from his post if Australia do not win the World Cup.

"The fear inside us is dead," Cheika said at a news conference.

"We are not afraid to go there and get it. That means it will be a great game."

That attitude perhaps explains Cheika's decision to roll the dice on 19-year-old Jordan Petaia, who will become just the fourth teenager to appear in a World Cup knockout match when he starts at outside centre.

Petaia only made his Test debut in the pool stage and both his previous appearances came at wing, but he has been shifted inside with Reece Hodge returning from suspension.

"I trust him infinitely," Cheika added of Petaia.

"He's looking good as gold. It's going to be fast and aggressive but I just know he will rise to the challenge - I've seen it in him."

Jones has also taken a gamble, dropping the in-form George Ford for Henry Slade and switching captain Owen Farrell to fly-half.

England have won all three of their World Cup matches so far - with their game against France cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis - and Jones knows they need to raise their level against the Wallabies.

"We've had three games, we've had three bonus-point wins, we can't do more than that," Jones said.

"Do we have to play better than that against Australia? The likelihood is yes, and we are prepared for that."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

England - Maro Itoje

Turnovers are key in such tight contests and no one won more than Itoje in the pool stage. The forward only played in two games and yet regained the ball on seven occasions.

Australia - Samu Kerevi

While Petaia will garner much of the attention, England must keep an eye on his midfield partner and Queensland Reds team-mate Kerevi. He beat 20 defenders across three appearances in the pool stage - the most of any centre - and more than England's top two players - Manu Tuilagi and Jonathan Joseph - combined.

Key Opta Facts

- The two nations have met 50 times previously. England have won 24 of those matches and Australia have won 25, while there was a draw back in 1997.
- England averaged 29 kicks in play per game during the pool stage, the most of any team. Meanwhile, Australia averaged the fewest (13). 
- Australia have reached the knockout phase in each of the nine World Cups and have won six of their previous eight quarter-finals.
- Jonny May will win his 50th cap for England. He has scored 25 tries in his previous 49 appearances.
- Luke Cowan-Dickie, who will start on the bench, has scored a try in each of his three World Cup appearances. Only Will Greenwood (four) has scored in more successive World Cup games for England.

The Rugby World Cup enters the knockout phase this weekend, with Ireland looking to finally reach a semi-final and Japan bidding to cause another upset.

Joe Schmidt's team may have beaten two-time reigning champions New Zealand in two of their previous three meetings, but Ireland have a rotten record in World Cup quarter-finals.

Hosts Japan face South Africa – the team they stunned in the pool stage four years ago – in their first World Cup quarter-final, while Wales meet France and England take on an Australia side they have an excellent recent record against.

Here, we take a look at the Opta data for the four quarter-final clashes.

 

England v Australia

6 - England have dominated the Wallabies of late, winning each of their previous half a dozen meetings since Australian Eddie Jones was hired as head coach in 2015.

7 - No player won more turnovers than Maro Itoje's seven in the pool stage and the England forward only featured in two of his team's three matches.

29 - Jones' side averaged 29 kicks in play per game during the pool stage – the most of any team – while Australia, with 13, averaged the fewest.

New Zealand v Ireland

7 - Ireland are in their seventh World Cup quarter-final and have lost all of their previous six matches at this stage – the joint most last-eight losses, along with Scotland.

17 - The All Blacks have won a record 17 consecutive World Cup games coming into this encounter – a run that dates back to a quarter-final defeat to France in 2007.

29 - New Zealand have scored a try in each of their last 29 World Cup matches, last failing to do so in 2003.

Wales v France

8 - In the eight meetings between these two nations since Les Bleus beat Wales in the 2011 World Cup semi-finals, Warren Gatland's team have won seven times. Only the All Blacks have beaten France more often in that span (10 times).

4 - Wales won all four of their pool-stage matches for the first time since 1987. They have never won five World Cup games in a row.

6 - Since the start of 2018, France have lost six Tests in which they have been leading at half-time – the most such defeats of any side in that time. One of those came against Wales when they were 16 points ahead at the interval.

Japan v South Africa

3 - Japan's 34-32 victory over South Africa at the 2015 World Cup was their first over a Tier One nation. Since then they have won two of their three games against such opponents, beating Ireland and Scotland in this tournament.

5 - Kotaro Matsushima is one of the leading try-scorers at this World Cup, along with Wales wing Josh Adams, having crossed five times.

47 - The Springboks won 47 out of 47 lineouts on their own throw in the pool stage, the only side in the tournament to maintain a 100 per cent success rate.

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