It’s a landmark day at the 2023 Rugby World Cup on Sunday, as the pool phase reaches its conclusion with a final trio of fixtures.
Japan and Argentina face a straight shootout for the runner-up spot in Pool D behind England when they kick off the day’s action in Nantes.
Then Fiji need just a point from their tie with minnows Portugal to oust Australia in the knockout race, after Tonga and Romania attempt to avoid the wooden spoon in Pool B.
Japan vs Argentina – Pool D
Knockout qualification is on the line at the 2023 Rugby World Cup on Sunday, as Japan and Argentina go head-to-head at the Stade de la Beaujoire.
The pair meet in Nantes knowing a win will take either through behind England as Pool D runners-up.
Both sit on nine points with two wins and a defeat apiece so far.
And it’s Los Pumas who have the advantage on points difference in the event of a draw, with Samoa looking like being shut out in the bid for progression.
They have Santiago Carreras reinstalled at fly-half in place of Nicolas Sanchez, while prop Francisco Gómez Kodela is also back in for the first time since their opening match.
Siosaia Fifita comes in on the wing for the Japanese, in the only change for Jamie Joseph’s side.
Japan Starting XV: 15 Lomano Lemeki, 14 Kotaro Matsushima, 13 Dylan Riley, 12 Ryoto Nakamura, 11 Siosaia Fifita, 10 Rikiya Matsuda, 9 Naoto Saito, 8 Kazuki Himeno (captain), 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Michael Leitch, 5 Amato Fakatava, 4 Jack Cornelsen, 3 Jiwon Gu, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Keita Inagaki.
Replacements: 16 Atsushi Sakate, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Asaeli Ai Valu, 19 Warner Dearns, 20 Amanaki Saumaki, 21 Kenta Fukuda, 22 Ryohei Yamanaka, 23 Jone Naikabula.
Argentina Starting XV: 15 Juan Cruz Mallia, 14 Emiliano Boffelli, 13 Lucio Cinti, 12 Santiago Chocobares, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Julian Montoya (captain), 1 Thomas Gallo.
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Joel Sclavi, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Pedro Rubiolo, 21 Lautaro Bazan, 22 Nicolas Sanchez, 23 Matias Moroni.
Kick Off Time: 13.00.
Tonga vs Romania – Pool B
It’s a rare dead rubber at the 2023 Rugby World Cup, as Tonga and Romania bid farewell to the competition in Lille on Sunday.
Neither can qualify for the knockout stages, nor can they sneak a third-placed finish that would seal a place in the 2027 tournament.
The underdogs were served up a nightmare pool, in their defence, with Ireland, reigning champions South Africa and Scotland fighting it out for two quarter-finals places.
And it does mean something has to give, with the chance for one of these to go out on a win or, in the unlikely event of a draw, for both to end having avoided a full set of defeats.
Ovidiu Cojocaru is promoted to captain for the first time, as coach Eugen Apjok makes nine changes before Romania bow out.
The Tongans make six changes, as ex-All Black international George Moala makes his first World Cup appearance at the age of 32.
Tonga Starting XV: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Solomone Kata, 13 George Moala, 12 Pita Ahki, 11 Afusipa Taumoepeau, 10 William Havili, 9 Sonatane Takulua (captain), 8 Sione Vailanu, 7 Sione Talitui, 6 Semisi Paea, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Halaleva Fifita, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Paula Ngauamo, 1 Siegfried Fisi’ihoi.
Replacements: 16 Sione Anga’aelangi, 17 Paula Latu, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Sitiveni Mafi, 20 Penitoa Finau, 21 Manusiu Paea, 22 Patrick Pellegrini, 23 Kyren Taumoefolau.
Romania Starting XV: 15 Marius Simionescu, 14 Nicholas Onutu, 13 Tevita Manumua, 12 Fonovai Tangimana, 11 Taliauli Sikuea, 10 Alin Conache, 9 Florin Surugiu, 8 Andre Gorin, 7 Cristi Boboc, 6 Vlad Neculau, 5 Marius Iftimiciuc, 4 Adrian Motoc, 3 Alexandru Gordas, 2 Ovidiu Cojocaru (captain), 1 Alexandru Savin.
Replacements: 16 Robert Irimescu, 17 Iulian Hartig, 18 Costel Burtila, 19 Florian Rosu, 20 Damian Stratila, 21 Gabriel Rupanu, 22 Alexandru Bucur, 23 Mihai Graure.
Kick Off Time: 17.45.
Fiji vs Portugal – Pool C
Fiji come into their final Pool C match with Portugal at the 2023 Rugby World Cup knowing a single point will be enough to elevate them to the quarter-finals in France.
A famous victory over Southern Hemisphere rivals Australia put them in the box seat for qualification, having pushed group winners Wales all the way in their previous match.
And now they have the chance to put the final nail in the Wallabies’ coffin, ending a dismal campaign under returning coach Eddie Jones.
You can bet Portugal will go out swinging, though, with the European nation winning plenty of admirers for their World Cup efforts.
Such is their progress they’ll be leaving the global showpiece disappointed to only have a dramatic draw with Georgia to show for their work, should they fail to land a blow on the Flying Fijians.
Coach Simon Raiwalui makes six changes for his Fijian side, with Vilimoni Botitu taking on fly-half duties.
Five Portuguese changes include Francisco Fernandes returning in the front row, while José Lima is named as captain by head coach Patrice Lagisquet.
Fiji Starting XV: 15 Sireli Maqala, 14 Selesitino Ravutaumada, 13 Waisea Nayacalevu (captain), 12 Josua Tuisova, 11 Vinaya Habosi, 10 Vilimoni Botitu, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Levani Botia, 6 Meli Derenalagi, 5 Temo Mayanavanua, 4 Isoa Nasilasila, 3 Luke Tagi, 2 Samuel Matavesi, 1 Eroni Mawi.
Replacements: 16 Tevita Ikanivere, 17 Peni Ravai, 18 Mesake Doge, 19 Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, 20 Albert Tuisue, 21 Peni Matawalu, 22 Teti Tela, 23 Iosefo Masi.
Portugal Starting XV: 15 Manuel Cardoso Pinto, 14 Raffaele Storti, 13 Pedro Bettencourt, 12 José Lima (captain), 11 Rodrigo Marta, 10 Jerónimo Portela, 9 Samuel Marques, 8 Rafael Simões, 7 Nicolas Martins, 6 David Wallis, 5 Steevy Cerqueira, 4 José Madeira, 3 Diogo Hasse Ferreira, 2 Mike Tadjer, 1 Francisco Fernandes.
Replacements: 16 David Costa, 17 Duarte Diniz, 18 Anthony Alves, 19 Duarte Torgal, 20 João Granate, 21 João Belo, 22 Tomás Appleton, 23 Vincent Pinto.
Kick Off Time: 21.00.
RWC 2023: Predictions Round Five
|Team 1||Win % 1||Win % 2||Team 2||Predicted margin|