Rugby World Cup 2019: Kolisi urges fast start for Springboks against All Blacks

By Sports Desk September 20, 2019

South Africa captain Siya Kolisi warned his side that defeat to New Zealand in their Rugby World Cup opener will turn every other pool match into a final.

The Proteas were famously stunned in their first game of the 2015 tournament, going down 34-32 to this year's hosts Japan in one of the greatest shocks of all time.

Rassie Erasmus' men face the reigning world champions on Saturday in Yokohama and Kolisi knows how important it is for the Springboks to make a strong start, having been humiliated in England four years ago.

"We are a very different team now – different coaching staff. We don't want to start like that and we have an opposition who also wants to start well," said Kolisi, whose side will also face Italy, Namibia and Canada in Pool B.

"There is a huge history behind us and we have learned from the past, so we have shown as much respect as we can to New Zealand, and have worked hard on our stuff.

"It makes it really tough if you lose your first game, because then basically every game is like a final."

Loose forward Kolisi cited the breakdown as a key battleground against the All Blacks, who triumphed when the two met in Pretoria last year, with flankers Sam Cane and Ardie Savea the men to watch.

"I know how good they are, I have played against them for a while. Me and Sam Cane played in the U20s, so I have seen him for quite a while. We chat and learn a few things from each other, but you can’t wait for the ref to help you at the breakdown," he said.

"Ardie has the most steals in Super Rugby, so we are going to have to sort it out ourselves and get in there quickly.

"That is where they were strong in the game in Pretoria last year – that's where they won the game."

The last meeting between the two sides was the 16-16 Rugby Championship draw in July. 

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  • Rugby World Cup 2019: Japan v South Africa Rugby World Cup 2019: Japan v South Africa

    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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