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Mapimpi hat-trick guides Boks to convincing win over Japan

South Africa ended their preparations for the Rugby World Cup with the perfect result as they beat Japan 41-7 in their final warm-up match before the tournament proper, which starts on 20 September.

South Africa's Makazole Mapimpi runs to score a try during the friendly rugby match between Japan and South Africa at the Kumagaya Rugby Stadium in Kumagaya on 6 September 2019. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa ended their preparations for the Rugby World Cup with the perfect result as they beat Japan 41-7 in their final warm-up match before the tournament proper, which starts on 20 September.

The Springboks would have no doubt had memories of their 2015 loss to the same opponents in what was one of the biggest shocks in international rugby.

If those thoughts were on the mind, it certainly didn’t show, with the Boks looking comfortable in the early exchanges.

The deadlock was broken just 9 minutes into the match as Cheslin Kolbe showed some neat footwork 5 metres out to step past the last defender and dot down in the corner.

Handre Pollard added the extra two points.

That try seemed to have spurred the hosts on as they began to apply pressure to the Springbok defence. South Africa though were able to hold on despite the Japanese going through a number of promising phases.

The Boks had the perfect response to that build-up of pressure as Makazole Mapimpi crossed the line moments later to extend the lead to 14-0 after Pollard’s conversion.

Eight minutes later and Mapimpi was at it again. A solid scrum inside the Japanese 22m line setting a good base for a slick attack that saw the winger have an easy run-in in the corner.

Pollard’s boot would have the final say of the half as he slotted a penalty from close range.

The Springboks went into the break 22-0 ahead.

Japan started the second half with brilliant attacking intent and dominated the opening 10 minutes of the half.

South Africa, though, once again showed their defensive prowess and commitment, doing well to keep the hosts at bay. Some good work at the breakdown forced a turnover just metres from the line.

The Boks were quick to turn defence into attack and were applying pressure of their own.

Another well-worked move from the backline and a well-timed pass from Pieter Steph du Toit saw Mapimpi with another simple run-in. The winger dotting down for his hat-trick.

Japan would eventually get on the score sheet, with Kotaro Matsushima profiting from some poor handling by the Springboks.

Yu Tamura converted the try as Japan went into the final 20 minutes trailing 27-7.

Rassie Erasmus rang the changes in the latter stages with Kolisi, Pollard and Etzebeth all making way.

That didn’t stop the Boks adding to the scoreline as Kolbe timed an interception to perfection to cross the whitewash for his second try of the match.

Herschel Jantjies capped off a good days work with a try of his own after capitalising on a handling error from Japan to run half the length of the field for another easy score.

The Springboks play two-time defending champions, New Zealand in their first match of the tournament on 21 September.

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