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Rugby World Cup 2019: Japan back in action against Samoa in a critical game

ANALYST
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36   //    04 Oct 2019, 16:15 IST

Japan has a chance to go above Ireland in Pool A with a win over Samoa.
Japan has a chance to go above Ireland in Pool A with a win over Samoa.

The host nation Japan is back in action at Toyota Stadium on Saturday as they face Samoa. The Cherry Blossoms shocked fans across the world last Saturday when they pulled off a stunning victory over Ireland at the Rugby World Cup 2019.

A win against the Pacific Islanders will see Japan leap frog Ireland to the top of Pool A and all but secure their progression to the quarter-finals.

Jamie Joseph’s men will be placing high importance on the bonus point win to ensure maximum distance from Scotland who currently occupy third place. The two sides face off in the final match of the Pool stage.

Should Japan beat Samoa and pull off another shock against Scotland then they will finish top, setting up a quarter-final clash with the runner up of Pool B. This is likely to be South Africa.

If Japan win tomorrow but lose to Scotland then there is a chance they finish in third and exit the tournament should they fail to pick up a bonus point.

Samoa have put in a solid performance for their opening match against Russia, beating them 34-9. However, they were outmatched against Scotland and failed to score a single point in a one sided 34-0 defeat.

This fixture is a must-win game for Samoa and they will surely be at full strength. The host nation will approach the fixture in similar fashion as there is every chance they will struggle against Scotland in their final match.

Pool A has proved to be difficult to predict for many tipsters. Given the unexpected potential for upsets from Japan and the drop in form of both Ireland and Scotland, picking the two quarter finalists from this Pool is anybody’s guess at this point.

Key Talking Points: Japan

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  • Japan are only making two changes to the squad that emerged victorious over Ireland. They will have a turnaround of one week suggesting they have enjoyed sufficient rest time. Flanker Michael Leitch appears to be making a return to the squad.
  • A win for Japan will put them on fourteen points in first place. Their chances of progression would significantly increase but should Scotland beat Russia and Japan with bonus point victories then they would be leapfrogged and finish in third.
  • Pieter Labuschagne will lead the Cherry Blossoms out as captain once again.

Key Talking Points: Samoa

  • Unlike Japan, the Pacific Island team is set to make six changes to the squad that lost heavily to Scotland. Fullback Ahsee Tuala makes his first appearance of the tournament.
  • Samoa are unlikely to progress from the Pool or even finish in third place. Their loss to Scotland has all but sealed their fate at Japan 2019.
  • After receiving two yellow cards in the previous match, winger Ed Fidow has been given the all clear to play against Japan as the red card he received has been deemed a suitable punishment without further need for a ban.
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