Shizuoka, Japan, Sep 28 : Japan shocked the world of Rugby on Saturday by defeating the world number two-ranked team Ireland 19-12 in a thriller here in Shizuoka.
With Japan's historic upset against South Africa four years ago in the back of everyone's minds, the Cherry Blossoms pulled off yet another monumental victory to give them the chance to get through to the quarterfinals of World Cup for the first time.
Despite Ireland scoring two tries in the first half through Garry Ringrose and Rob Kearney, precise kicking from the Japanese 10, Tamura, kept Japan within one score at the break.
The second half was witness to some of the most passionate rugby Japan have played. A team that put their bodies on the line at every breakdown and gave the deafening crowd a feast of superb play that gave them a second-half that dreams are made of.
It was favorites Ireland that started the brightest scoring after 13 minutes, Garry Ringrose caught a high ball from replacement fly-half Jack Carty to touch down in the corner.
However, a missed conversion from out wide kept the score at 5-0 and Japan soon pulled the score back to 5-3 after a Yu Tamura penalty five minutes later.
In the 20th minute, Ireland was back on top as Rob Kearney scrambled over to get an Irish try after conservable pressure.
A conversion later and Ireland were 12-3 up and looking like they would ease through the tie against the hosts.
But it was Japan that raised their game. Strong forward play earned the Japanese a couple of penalties, that Tamura comfortable stuck through the uprights to bring the game to 12-9 at the half time break.
Japan arrived on the field for the second half to a huge roar from the home crowd and started better than their counterparts. While Japan missed the first penalty kick of the half, the Cherry Blossoms were not deterred and Kenki Fukuoka scored in the corner to take Japan into the lead for the first time.
With Japan leading 16-12, thanks to a Tamura conversion, it soon dawned on the Irish that they could be heading for an embarrassing loss.
However, the Irish play was shut down by determined Japanese defense. Unlike the Japanese win against South Africa in the World Cup four years ago, Ireland could not blame sloppy play as the reason they were behind in this game, Japan was just the better side in every department.
As Japan moved upfield with 10 minutes to go, once again the forwards earned a penalty for their side. And once again Tamura was there to add three more points to seal a legendary 19-12 victory. (XINHUA)