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Day 33 at the Rugby World Cup: Two remaining semi-final spots up for grabs

Wales take on France while hosts Japan meet South Africa with the winners joining England and New Zealand in the last four.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland is targeting a semi-final place at the 2019 World Cup in Japan (Adam Davy/PA)
Wales head coach Warren Gatland is targeting a semi-final place at the 2019 World Cup in Japan (Adam Davy/PA)

By Phil Blanche, PA

The battle for Rugby World Cup semi-final places will be completed on Sunday.

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With England and New Zealand already through to a Yokohama showdown next weekend, two more places are up for grabs.

Wales play Six Nations rivals France and hosts Japan seek to cause another World Cup shock against South Africa.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at what to expect on what is sure to be another momentous day in Japan.

Wales on World Cup revenge mission

Wales coach Warren Gatland said the 2011 semi-final defeat to France still stings those players involved in that game.

Captain Sam Warburton was sent off early in that Auckland clash as France emerged 9-8 winners to set up a final date.

But Wales have dominated the Six Nations meetings between the two countries in recent years.

“We’ve had a great record against them,” Gatland said.

“We’ve won seven of the last eight games and the one we lost was the 100-minute game in Paris where they scored in the last minute.

“They are a big team, a physical team, but we are feeling really positive about the way we’ve prepared.

“The message to the players is you’ve got two choices here – we are either on the plane on Monday going home or we are here until the end of the tournament.”

Adams in record chase

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Josh Adams is chasing a place in the Welsh record books (David Davies/PA)

Winger Josh Adams could enter the Wales record books in Oita on Sunday.

Adams has scored five tries at the 2019 World Cup and needs one more to equal the Wales record held by Shane Williams, who is in Japan working in the media.

“I haven’t heard anything from Shane,” Adams said.

“I wasn’t aware of that until after the Uruguay game. It would be nice if I could level with him or even overtake him.”

Adams needs another three tries to equal the tournament record of eight held by Jonah Lomu (New Zealand, 1997), Bryan Habana (South Africa, 2007) and Julian Savea (New Zealand, 2015).

“It would be a nice list to join if I could get on that, with players like that,” he said.

“But I’m taking it game by game.

Will break do France good?

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France captain Guilhem Guirado is chomping at the bit to face Wales (John Walton/PA)

France have stuttered rather than shone during this World Cup with narrow 23-21 wins over Argentina and Tonga and a 33-9 success over the United States.

Their final pool game against England was cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis, and that means Les Bleus will not have played for two weeks by the time they run out to face Wales.

But skipper Guilhem Guirado believes the break will be to France’s advantage, saying: “We’ve had the good fortune to have 10 days to properly prepare ourselves.

“We’re impatient to play this match, and to get back into a situation where all the matches are important and special to play in.

“We’re approaching this match with a lot of apprehension.

“To win this kind of match, we’ll have to go into their camp, into their territory.”

Japan target Boks’ repeat

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Japan stunned South Africa at the 2015 World Cup (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Japan’s 34-32 victory over South Africa at the 2015 World Cup in England was christened the ‘Brighton Miracle’.

Four years on, and another Japan win in their own World Cup would not register as much of a seismic shock.

Japan have lit up the tournament in beating Ireland and Scotland to top their pool, but the Brave Blossoms lost 41-7 to South Africa in Kumagaya six weeks ago.

“It was a warm-up game,” explained Japan attack coach Tony Brown.

“Both teams had different things in mind around preparing for the World Cup.

“We definitely played a style of game that wasn’t around playing for South Africa, it was around playing for the World Cup.

“I don’t think the game is going to have any effect on what happens.

“It’s a completely different game, a one-off quarter-final. The winner goes on and loser bows out, so it’s exciting.”

Coming up

  • Wales v France (Oita, 0815 BST, ITV)
  • Japan v South Africa (Chofu, 1115 BST, ITV)

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