FUKUROI CITY, Japan (Reuters) - Japan will crack open a few beers to celebrate their shock win over Ireland on Saturday but stressed the party would finish in the locker room as they bid to progress from the Rugby World Cup pool stages for the first time.
The Brave Blossoms stunned world number two side Ireland 19-12 to win their second match of the tournament and put themselves in prime position to reach the quarter-finals, a goal they had set ahead of the global showpiece.
But mindful of what happened at the 2015 World Cup, where they also upset South Africa but became the first team not to advance from the pool stages despite winning three matches, the Japanese are determined to keep the pedal to the floor.
“We’ve got a goal to make the top eight and we’re not there yet. We know that in 2015 we won three games and still missed out. So that hangs in the background,” lock Luke Thompson told reporters.
“We’ve got two really good teams to play against and tonight shows if you’re not on your game 100% you could lose to anyone.
“So we have to go back out in seven days’ time and put in an excellent performance against Samoa. And that’s all we’re focused on.”
Japan face Samoa next Saturday before finishing their Pool A campaign against Scotland, the one team they lost to four years ago.
“We can be in a situation where we win tonight and lose to Scotland and miss out. That’s certainly what happened last time,” coach Jamie Joseph said. “We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves.”
In 2015, Japan matched the Springboks and Scotland’s number of victories but were knocked out due to a lack of bonus points, something they are keenly aware of this time.
“We’ve talked about how four tries is a bonus point so we’re all on top of that and this week’s game is going to be crucial for us to move through to the quarter-finals,” said Japan’s captain Michael Leitch, adding that Saturday night’s celebration would be a short one.
“It starts and finishes in the locker room. Fifteen minutes in the locker room, have a few beers and that’s it, get back to the hotel,” he said.
“Review, and go on to the next job.”
Reporting by Chris Gallagher; editing by Tony Lawrence
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