The daily tournament preview packs down with Rugby World Cup tips for an almighty group-stage-closing showdown between history-chasing hosts Japan and desperate Scotland.
21:15 (AEDT), Sun 13th Oct @ International Stadium, Yokohama
History: Played 7: Scotland 7 V Japan 0
Last meeting: June 25, 2016: Scotland 21 d Japan 16 at Ajinomoto Stadium
Final thoughts: The biggest match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup’s pool play has been overshadowed by a weather event that may yet see the match cancelled. But if it goes ahead, rugby fans are set to be treated to one of the most absorbing contests in the tournament’s history.
Scotland need the match to played to reach the quarter-finals. They are currently four points adrift of Japan. A win would be enough to get Scotland through – provided Japan don’t nab any bonus points. A loss by seven or less will hand Japan a historic knockouts berth, as long as Scotland do not score four tries. A four-try victory will get the job done for Scotland…but not if Japan also score four tries and finish within seven points.
But the hosts also have their eyes on the prize of top spot in Pool A. They followed up a tournament-opening 30-10 win over Russia with a heroic 19-12 upset of Ireland.
A 38-19 bonus-point victory over Samoa – achieved via two late tries – put Japan in the box-seat.
Scotland opened their campaign with an insipid 27-3 loss to Ireland. But they have responded superbly since, thrashing Samoa (34-0) and Russia (61-0) without conceding a point.
Halves pairing George Horne and Adam Hastings scored five tries between them in the latter, but veteran pair Greig Laidlaw and Finn Russell will be in the key positions for this blockbuster.
History favours Scots
Scotland have won all seven of their previous clashes with Japan. The Scots took the wind out of the Brave Blossoms’ Rugby World Cup fairytale in 2015, racking up a 45-10 group-stage win to cruel the giant-killers’ quarter-final bid.
The nations met most recently in 2016, with Scotland scoring hard-fought 26-13 and 21-16 wins in Japan.
But Japan have risen a couple of levels since then. Scotland have their work cut out combating their tenacity and unpredictable, as well as drowning out the influence of the home fans. Conditions may lead to a tight game – and Scotland may find themselves in the position of needing to chase points.
With form on the board and a country behind them (as well as the sentiment of the vast majority of the rugby world), Japan are irresistible as underdogs here.
RUGBY WORLD CUP TIPS
|Namibia V Canada||Result – Namibia @ $1.80|
|USA V Tonga||Handicap – Tonga -3.5 @ $1.93|
|Wales V Uruguay||Handicap – Uruguay +43.5 @ $1.78|