It’s all to play for at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France on Thursday, as Japan and Samoa do battle in their respective bids to push for knockout qualification.
New Zealand’s All Blacks return to action against Italy in Lyon on Friday night, teeing up Saturday’s trio of games that see a South American derby between Argentina and Chile, before Fiji play Georgia and Scotland meet Romania.
South Africa go up against Tonga on Sunday, with the Springboks out to avenge their loss to Ireland, while Eddie Jones’ Australia are on the World Cup ropes as they take on tricky Portugal.
Japan vs Samoa – Pool D
One of these two can put themselves firmly in the frame for knockout qualification at the 2023 Rugby World Cup on Thursday, as Japan and Samoa go head-to-head in Toulouse.
Both have a win and a loss following their opening two fixtures in France.
And that means there’s a realistic shot at the runners-up spot in Pool D, as England race clear towards the quarter-finals.
Japan are fresh from a bye week, which is probably just as well given the energy they exerted in putting up a feisty effort against the 2019 finalists.
A 34-12 success flattered the English, but also lent weight to the notion that this Brave Blossoms squad can’t quite match the levels of those of both four years ago and in 2015, where they recorded their heroic win over South Africa’s Springboks in Brighton.
But they did the business on the opening weekend here, sealing a bonus point success against World Cup first-timers Chile.
Samoa matched the feat on their delayed competition entrance in round two, recording a near-identical 43-10 victory over the minnows in Bordeaux.
The Pacific Islanders will have simmered on a few regrets from their second match with Argentina, too.
A try apiece meant that only the boot of Emiliano Boffelli for Los Pumas was the difference for a 19-10 win that leaves the chasing pack neck-and-neck.
Injury to Semisi Masiresa means that Lomano Lemeki earns a rare start at full-back, while coach Jamie Joseph hands the 12 jersey to Dylan Riley in the only other change from Japan’s loss to England.
Taleni Seu and Sa Jordan Taufua are called up to take their places in the back row of the Samoan pack.
Ed Fidow is preferred on the right wing, while Alai D’Angelo Leuila comes into the midfield for coach Seilala Mapusua’s side.
RWC 2023: Predictions Round Four
|Team 1||Win % 1||Win % 2||Team 2||Predicted margin|
Japan Starting XV: 15 Lomano Lemeki, 14 Kotaro Matsushima, 13 Dylan Riley, 12 Ryoto Nakamura, 11 Jone Naikabula, 10 Rikiya Matsuda, 9 Yutaka Nagare, 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 Kanji Shimokawa, 21 Naoto Saito, 22 Seungsin Lee, 23 Tomoki Osada.
Samoa Starting XV: 15 Duncan Paia’aua, 14 Ed Fidow, 13 Tumua Manu, 12 Alai D’Angelo Leuila, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Christian Leali’ifano, 9 Jonathan Taumateine, 8 Sa Jordan Taufua, 7 Fritz Lee, 6 Taleni Junior Agaese Seu, 5 Theo McFarland, 4 Chris Vui (captain), 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Seilala Lam, 1 James Lay.
Replacements: 16 Sama Malolo, 17 Jordan Lay, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Alamanda Motuga, 21 Melani Matavao, 22 Neria Fomai, 23 Danny Toala.
Kick Off Time: 21.00.