Their unlikely lead did not last long, however, with hooker Bismarck Du Plessis the man diving over to give South Africa a narrow advantage at half-time.
Japan play Scotland in Gloucester on Wednesday with little time to recover from Saturday’s thrilling 34-32 triumph at Brighton’s Community Stadium.
Handre Pollard has vowed South Africa will unite under the common cause of World Cup glory, despite political wrangling over their very presence at the tournament.
But relentless pressure from Japan paid off when rather than take a penalty for a draw, they were rewarded for their bravery when Hesketh scored in the left corner. His performance in South Africa’s first defeat by Argentina in Durban in August was labelled by one commentator as that of a “carthorse”.
“It’s like a horror movie, when the woman goes for a shower and you know what’s going to happen next”, he said.
World Rugby announced on Friday Japan, who have played at all seven previous World Cups, would qualify automatically for the 2019 edition as hosts along with the top 12 sides from the 2015 tournament, which kicked off in England on Friday.
“There will in all likelihood be changes again next week but for now these players deserve another opportunity to stake a claim”.
Meyer will enter the match having been labelled racist due to his selections since he took over as head coach in 2012.
“This World Cup is going to be the closest ever as there are plenty of teams who are putting up their hands to win it”.
SOUTH Africa coach, Heyneke Meyer, has warned his warned his players to guard against complacency ahead of their opening Rugby World Cup match against Japan. “We represent a proud nation and we let them down, it’s not good enough”.
“We need to be able to fight them in the scrum so we can get into our rhythm and not theirs”. We have had a challenging year so far with injuries and obviously with a not-so good run in the Rugby Championship, but it has also placed us a good position as we will be underestimated. “This was just one of those performances where we can’t really put our finger on it where we lost, but we were beaten by a better team on the day”, De Villiers said.
“The way we’ve been scrumming lately has added to our confidence and if we take it up another notch against South Africa, it will do wonders for our self-belief”, said prop Keita Inagaki. ‘Our aim is to get to the quarter-finals and if we do that I will quit coaching and sit and criticise people like Clive Woodward does, ‘ he said.