Japan's famous win over Ireland at the Rugby World Cup has put them on a collision course to face the Springboks in the quarter-finals, and that's a "scary" proposition for coach Rassie Erasmus.
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Japan secured a come-from-behind 19-12 win over Ireland in Shizuoka, which sees them top of Pool A with two wins and games to come against Samoa and Scotland.
And after South Africa's 23-13 loss to the All Blacks last weekend, they're destined for a second-place finish in Pool B, setting up a last-eight showdown against the host nation.
Before the tournament, South Africa beat Japan 41-7 in a World Cup warm-up, but that result means nothing to Erasmus, who says a match against the host nation a "realistic option".
"We played Japan a few weeks ago and won 41-7 but I said afterwards that the scoreline was not a true reflection of the game, Erasmus said, after South Africa's 57-3 win over Namibia.
"I said back then that we might end up playing Japan in the World Cup quarter-finals. Obviously, there was a lot hinging on that game between Ireland and Japan, but I knew that Japan had a realistic chance of winning that game and the game against Scotland to top their pool.
"We've beaten Namibia, and if we beat Italy, we will be in a position to finish second in our pool. If Japan keep winning they will become a realistic option to face us in the playoffs. It's a bit of a scary option to play Japan."
On beating Namibia, Erasmus said he was pleased with his team's performance against Namibia.
Erasmus made 13 changes from the team that lost to the All Blacks as he wants to give all his players some gametime.
"Out of the all the teams last week, we had the toughest pool game, so we needed to bounce back with a win. We got the win and the five points. It was awful looking at the table and seeing us on zero table points. So, that's a positive.
"But in the same breath, you could see Namibia were always targeting more the Canada game for a win, and they were resting a few players.
"By no means are we thinking, 'Well done.' We are realistic about where we are, and what we still have to do.
"For us overall, a few boxes ticked. Certainly not a perfect performance and a lot of work still to do. But now we go to the crunch game [against Italy]. Even before the World Cup started, we said there are going to be five really important games at the World Cup – New Zealand, Italy, and the quarter-final, semi-final and final.
"Now it's Italy, and then the three playoff games. A lot of work ahead. It wasn't a wonderful performance, but a solid performance. The first 50-pointer, so not too bad."
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