Japan head coach Jamie Joseph will ready his side for a “Grand Final” showdown against Argentina as they kept alive hopes of reaching the World Cup knock-out stages with a 28-22 win over 14-man Samoa in Toulouse, which saw England’s qualification secured.
Victory for the Brave Blossoms, who lead 17-8 at half-time, confirmed England as Pool D winners ahead of the final round of fixtures.
Japan – having reached the last eight for the first time four years ago as hosts – face Argentina, who are expected to comfortably beat winless Chile on Saturday to put themselves into an all-or-nothing clash in Nantes next weekend.
“It was a really tough game and we had to work hard to get the win. Hats off to the Samoan boys – they really took it to us,” Joseph said, as quoted on the official Rugby World Cup website.
“They got on top of us at times and we had to really keep at it for the whole game. The commitment was certainly there, but there were one or two things to work on for next week.”
Joseph added: “That will be our Grand Final, we get an opportunity to play a tier-one team.
“We have been there a bit before and I know our guys will be really excited for that one, but it is going to be another tough one.”
Samoa saw winger Ben Lam receive a yellow card early in the second half for a dangerous tackle into the side of Pieter Labuschagne’s head, which was upgraded to red following a bunker review by the TMO.
Samoa, who cannot progress following the defeat, face Pool D winners England in their final group-satge match in Lille on October 7.
Samoa head coach Seilala Mapusua said: “I’m really proud of the guys. The effort they put into the game, I couldn’t have asked for more.
“But it’s tough playing a game against 15 men and to be down a man with the red card. Unfortunate for Ben, it was just one of those contacts in the game.”
Mapusua admitted his side’s discipline problems were “very concerning” and they would have to regroup as they prepare to face Steve Borthwick’s men.
He added: “We have got to be technically correct otherwise we will be punished.
“We have seen that in the last three games, but not just our games throughout the competition. We are hopeful we can get it right next week.”