The week-long hype over a potential repeat of Japan's upset over South Africa in 2015, the so-called Miracle of Brighton, was muscled out of reality by a big Springboks lineup that stuck to its attritional game plan.
With a half-time score at 5-3 it was still anybody's game. The "epic moments" of Japan's famous win four years ago were replayed on the stadium screen during the break but it seemed only to remind the South Africans of what was at stake in the second half.
Flyhalf Handre Pollard landed three penalty goals from the 44th to the 64th minutes to extend the margin to 14-3 before the game finally opened up. Scrumhalf Faf de Klerk scooted over in the 66th after a powerful driving maul from the Springboks had Japan on the back foot, and Makazole Mapimpi added his second try of the match in the 70th to put the result beyond doubt.
Japan, which had won millions of converts to the sport for its high-intensity running rugby, was unable to cross South Africa's line. The South Africans are now 5-2 in Rugby World Cup semifinals and will meet Wales next weekend for a place in the final.
South Africa is leading Japan 5-3 at halftime in their Rugby World Cup quarterfinal despite defending for most of the first 40 minutes in their own territory and playing for 10 minutes with a man in the sin-bin.
Two-time champion South Africa is aiming to erase memories of the shocking upset loss to Japan in the World Cup four years ago. Japan is in the quarterfinals for the first time and aiming for another upset.
South Africa got on top early, when winger Makazole Mapimpi beat an attempted tackle from Yu Tamuru after a big shove from South Africa's scrum and scored in the left corner in the 4th minute.
But Japan absorbed the early pressure from a much bigger Springboks pack and started to take control when veteran South Africa prop Tendi Mtawarira was yellow-carded in the 10th minute for a tip-tackle.
He immediately put his hands up to acknowledge the error, but left his team with 14 men for the next 10 minutes in which Japan attacked relentlessly and even took a scrum against the head.
That led to Japan's points, from a calmly taken penalty goal by Tamura in the 20th minute.
Japan did most of the running and went close after a Kenki Fukuoka surge on the left wing, but wasn't able to turn almost 70 percent of possession and territory into a try.
The winner at Tokyo Stadium will play Wales in the semifinals next week.
Wales took advantage of the second-half sending-off of France lock Sebastien Vahaamahina to rally for a 20-19 win and a place in the Rugby World Cup semifinals.
Trailing 12-0 after eight minutes, the Welsh were also 19-10 behind and being dominated by France when Vahaamahina elbowed Wales flanker Aaron Wainwright in the face in a maul and was shown a red card in the 49th minute.
Dan Biggar's penalty goal reduced the deficit to six points before Wales pushed back France in a 74th-minute scrum near the French line and the ball popped into the air. Justin Tipuric gathered it, was tackled on the line, only for Ross Moriarty to collect and barge over for a try converted by Biggar.
France looked on course for a seventh appearance in the semifinals after scoring three tries in the first half through Vahaamahina, Charles Ollivon and Virimi Vakatawa.
Wales will play South Africa or host nation Japan in the semifinals.
France took a 12-0 lead after eight minutes and added a superb third try through Virimi Vakatawa to be 19-10 in front at halftime against Wales in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals.
Lock Sebastien Vahaamahina burrowed over for a try in the fifth minute before flanker Charles Ollivon finished off an 80-meter move to give France a flying start in Oita.
Wales pulled it back to 12-10 through a breakaway try from flanker Aaron Wainwright and a penalty goal by Dan Biggar, but then had replacement Ross Moriarty sin-binned for a high tackle.
With the Welsh down to 14 men, France took advantage of some open space as Vakatawa sidestepped in from an offload by winger Damian Penaud and dived over for a try in the 31st.
Wales lost center Jonathan Davies to a knee injury on the morning of the match, and has seen No. 8 Josh Navidi go off injured.
The Welsh started out as favorites after beating France in seven of their last eight meetings.
Quade Cooper isn't sad to see the back of Michael Cheika, who has decided not to re-apply for the post as Australia coach after the team's World Cup exit.
"If he actually cared about Aus rugby he would have done it a while ago," Cooper wrote on Twitter.
The 31-year-old flyhalf hasn't played for the Wallabies since 2017. He was included in the preliminary squad six months out from the World Cup in Japan, but didn't make the final 31-man party.
Michael Cheika's tenure as Australia rugby coach is over.
The Wallabies say Cheika has confirmed he will not seek to be reappointed in the post, with his contract having finished following the team's quarterfinal loss to England at the Rugby World Cup.
Cheika was in charge for five years, leading Australia to the World Cup final in 2015.
He said in August he was staking his coaching career on the Wallabies winning the World Cup in Japan. They lost 40-16 to England in Oita on Saturday.
Wales has been dealt a big blow ahead of its match against France in the quarterfinals, with center Jonathan Davies ruled out because of a knee injury.
Owen Watkin was promoted from the bench to the starting lineup, with Leigh Halfpenny taking his place among the replacements.
Davies, a British and Irish Lion and one of Wales' most experienced players, hurt his knee in the 29-17 win over Fiji in the pool stage on Oct. 9. He was declared fit enough to start against France, only to aggravate the injury in the captain's run on Saturday.
News of the lineup change came about an hour before kickoff.
New Zealand is set to be without flanker Matt Todd for the Rugby World Cup semifinal match against England on Saturday.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says Todd "got a bang" on his shoulder in the 46-14 win over Ireland in the quarterfinals on Saturday and that it's "unlikely he'll be available" against England.
Todd is mainly used as a replacement for New Zealand. He came on the 57th minute against Ireland and was sin-binned late in the game.
The semifinal lineup at the Rugby World Cup will be completed on Sunday, with Wales playing France in Oita before host nation Japan takes on two-time champion South Africa in Tokyo.
England and New Zealand advanced with big wins on Saturday and will meet in the first semifinal. It's tough to predict who will be in the second.
Japan's historic qualification to the quarterfinals has been the story of the tournament so far — it's the first time any Asian country has got to the knockout stage — and the team has beaten South Africa at the World Cup before, of course.
In the "Miracle of Brighton" at the 2015 competition, the Springboks were famously defeated by Japan in one of the greatest shocks in any sport.
Wales starts as favorite against France in the all-European quarterfinal, having won seven of their last eight meetings.
More AP Rugby World Cup: https://www.apnews.com/RugbyWorldCup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports