5 talking points: Japan v Springboks

Makazole Mapimpi (Getty Images)
Makazole Mapimpi (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Sport24's Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points following South Africa's 41-7 Rugby World Cup warm-up win over Japan in Saitama on Friday.

1. Revenge for Brighton shock

The Springboks' comfortable win gained a measure of revenge for the shock 34-32 defeat suffered at the hands of Japan in Brighton at the 2015 World Cup.

I've written in the past that it was one of the most embarrassing moments in Springbok history. The bookmakers had the Boks to win by 44 points that day, but the South Africans were outfoxed by a smarter team who knew they had to move the ball around against their bigger, more fancied opponents.

Nevertheless, the Boks did not make the same mistake in their second Test against the Japan and turned the tables in comfortable fashion on Friday.

2. Hat-trick hero Mapimpi

Springbok left winger Makazole Mapimpi was razor sharp as a finisher as he claimed a hat-trick of tries.

Yes, one try was an easy dot down after a dominant Bok scrum, but he had a lot to do with the others and has given Bok coach Rassie Erasmus a healthy headache ahead of the World Cup opener against New Zealand.

In South Africa's previous Test - the 23-18 win over Argentina in Pretoria - it was S'bu Nkosi who stole the show with a brace of tries and Erasmus will no doubt have sleepless nights on how he can accommodate both these players in the Bok starting XV.

3. Staunch Bok defence

The Springboks' defensive system deserves praise for the manner in which Japan were kept at bay on a hot and humid night.

There were several relentless Japanese attacks on the Bok tryline but the visitors simply refused to buckle and defended like Trojans.

Japan's solitary score came against the run of play and off a Springbok error.

But for the remainder of the contest, the Springboks rigidly kept to their structures and this bodes well for the World Cup.

4. A better first half from Boks

It's fair to say that the first half was more controlled from a South African perspective.

The 22-0 scoreline at the break reflected as much, with the Boks dominating at the set-pieces and keeping the game slow.

In the second period, things got a bit loose when some substitutes came on and I felt the scoreline flattered South Africa a bit, with a few breakaway tries at the end silencing the home crowd.

The template from the first half is probably how the Boks will play at the World Cup and it will stand them in good stead in the pressure cooker of knockout games.

5. Injury relief for Boks

These World Cup warm-up games are often a coach's worst nightmare in terms of losing key players to injury.

Just ask Jean de Villiers about getting injured before World Cups...

But luckily the Boks came through the Japan game relatively unscathed with the knee injury suffered by replacement prop Trevor Nyakane confirmed on Sunday as not as serious as initially feared.

Barring some freak training ground mishaps, the Boks look geared for their World Cup opener against the All Blacks in Yokohama on September 21…

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