The message from the Japan team after Friday's big 41-7 loss to South Africa just two weeks before the Rugby World Cup kicks off was "don't panic, stay positive."

"I think our confidence is up there," center Timothy Lafaele said after the Brave Blossoms' final warm-up game at Kumagaya Rugby Stadium, one of the 12 venues for the World Cup.

"Our forwards matched their forwards in the set-piece, and the mauls and scrums, and that's a huge confidence booster leading up to the World Cup."

The problem is, however, that while there were moments when Japan looked like a side that could make the knockout stage at the upcoming tournament -- when a bit of Lafaele magic put Kotaro Matsushima away for Japan's lone try, a prime example -- there were also signs that they may struggle to beat either Ireland or Scotland.

Japan started poorly and failed to score in the first half of a home game for the first time since 2013.

They also closed badly, giving up two late tries even though the Springboks were down to 14 men on the field following a yellow card to Francois Louw.

Four of the visitors' tries came from contestable kick turnovers, and finishing with just 7 points to their name hardly inspires confidence they can beat the two Celtic teams.

"The kicks were in the right places but we didn't work hard enough to connect in defense," explained Lafaele. "Sometimes the kicks went up and there were only two guys chasing, instead of three or four."

The Yamanashi Gakuin University graduate and head coach Jamie Joseph, however, were both quick to point out it was not all doom and gloom and that the Brave Blossoms created several try-scoring opportunities.

"There were opportunities to get more points today, especially in the second half, but we either knocked it on or lost it in the breakdown," said Lafaele. "It's just the little detail stuff we have to fix."

Joseph meanwhile said he was proud of his team and that game was "great preparation for the World Cup and just what we needed."

With Japan's World Cup squad already announced, Joseph does not have the ability to look elsewhere for a quick fix.

The 2015 Super Rugby title winning coach has opted for the "safe and solid" option in certain positions rather than the spectacular and it will be up to the likes of Yu Tamura, Ryoto Nakamura and William Tupou to ensure there is no repeat of Friday's performance.

"There is no magic," said flyhalf Tamura, who had perhaps his worst game for his country.

"It's the small things, such as one pass, one breakdown, one run. We are not big and fast but if we stick together and pay attention to the small parts we can produce a major attack."

Japan certainly looked better when, with replacement scrumhalf Yutaka Nagare leading the way, they were able to play at a quick pace. But Ireland and Scotland, not to mention Russia and Samoa, will have noticed how they struggled when they were slowed.

"We will use this game as a learning experience" ahead of the World Cup opener against Russia in Tokyo on Sept. 20, said Japan captain Michael Leitch.

Despite the score, South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus saw enough to believe the two sides could possibly meet again in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.

"They are a dangerous team and really challenged us," he said. "I really believe that if we progress from our pool there's a chance we may meet them again."

Related coverage:

Rugby: Joseph hopeful Fukuoka, Mafi will be OK for RWC opener

Rugby: Brave Blossoms handed lesson by vengeful Springboks

Rugby: Hot, humid Kumagaya welcomes Japan, S. Africa fans