It has been business as usual in all the fixtures since Japan played last time but now they are back and looking to secure their place in the next round. But before we see them in action, there will be two matches earlier in day fourteen. It kicks off with the Wallabies going up against the first team to pull of an upset this world cup, Uruguay, from Pool D. After that things pick up quick a lot, England will get their first real test of the tournament as they lock horns with Argentina, a decisive matchup from Pool C. Then finally, yes the hosts are back. This could be a massive night for Japanese rugby as a win over Samoa should see them lock in a quarterfinal spot from Pool A. How will it all unravel on day fourteen? Let’s take a look…..
Australia vs Uruguay – Pool D
These final two games for the Wallabies are extremely crucial, albeit against weaker opposition. They have a fair few issues inside their own camp they badly need to sort out and the main one is the halves combination. At scrumhalf they have a couple of really good options, Nic White and Will Genia both offer different options but at a good quality at their best against different styles of play but Michael Cheika can’t work out which is the right way around to play them. Nic White will start against Uruguay, but came off the bench for Wales. Let’s talk about the fly half though! Foley is a shadow of his former ability when you think of his effect four years ago in England and the woful display against Wales just days ago. Although it’s not his natural position, Matt Toomua has to be the form man to run this backline. Cheika has resisted the urge and instead Toomua starts at twelve. Christian Lealiifano goes back to ten after missing Wales. There’s plenty more talking points in this Wallabies squad, David Pocock gets a rest and the man tasked with the future of Wallabies rugby, Jordan Petaia will line up on the left wing despite hardly stepping on a field for most of the season.
Technically, the Uruguayans have smashed their targets already. A win at the Rugby World Cup, TICK! This is certainly a game they are not targeting for a potential victory. Inspirational captain Juan Manuel Gaminara moves to the bench and will sit alongside the electric scrumhalf Santiago Arata. The squad players get their chance to impress with Manuel Ardao moving into the back row and Agustin Ormaechea to scrumhalf with outside centre Andres Vilaseca to take care of the captaincy. Uruguay can still upset this patchy Wallabies side with plenty of areas to target. The impressive Felipe Berchesi at fly half will be looking to be the better of the tens in a position that can control a game. If their forward pack can get a share in the spoils we could get a nice little half of competitive rugby if we take a positive view for the Uruguayans. Sadly though I think it’s going to be a rough night for them, the Wallabies are a side that knows how to put smaller sides to the sword as we seen with Fiji to open their campaign. Expect more of that on day fourteen.
RESULT = Australia by 58
England vs Argentina – Pool C
The first real test for England at this World Cup will come against Argentina. There has been no messing about in naming potentially their best squad. Mako Vunipola and Jack Nowell make their much expected returns to the side to form a very strong English bench. As expected Eddies Jones’ favoured flanker combination has Tom Curry, Sam Underhill and Billy Vunipola at six, seven and eight will be quick around the park and trouble at the breakdown. Most English fans would have been able to predict most of this side in the buildup with a straightforward selection in the backline. George Ford and captain Owen Farrell will line up at ten and twelve as they have for most important games for England. Jones has sprung no real surprises in his selections but the question is how much of the English hand will need to be revealed against Argentina and France before the main show in the quarterfinals and beyond.
Argentina have sprung a pretty big selection on this match, deciding to leave Nicholas Sanchez completely out of the 23 instead opting for Benjamin Urdapilleta to run the show presumably for the full eighty minutes with no out and out flyhalf replacement on the bench for the Pumas. Captain Pablo Matera needs a huge game today if his side are allowed any chance, without it they will be overrun in the forwards fully, not just in set piece. Argentina will need to get the ball in and out of any forward confrontation as soon as possible and try to get their backs to run the game away from those ground and pound areas that England will be controlling and keeping tight all game long. The Pumas are featuring a lot of players who have been below the expectations they developed over the 2019 season, guys like Emiliano Boffelli, Matias Orlando and Matias Moroni need to light the night up but without the quick ball from their forwards they will struggle, as the old cliche goes. England will control the breakdown and set piece which should be more than enough for them to get the job done.
RESULT = England by 9
Japan vs Samoa – Pool A
Fresh in our memories whenever you mention Japan is the result a few days ago against the Irish and with it will be a huge amount of confidence and belief. A win here against Samoa will secure them a place in the quarterfinals in either of the top two positions. Their side is one of the more settled Japanese sides we have seen recently and with the form they carry you can understand why. Man of the match against Ireland, Shota Horie will slip back to start off the bench and in his place will be Atsushi Sakate at hooker. Michael Leitch returns to the starting lineup but with it doesnt get back his captaincy which is retained by fellow flanker Lappies Labuschagne who held the armband against Ireland. The backline remains unchanged with some amazing form in these positions. You can name them all with the form of their careers but the midfield pair have been the standouts for me, Ryoto Nakamura and Tim Lafaele have been brilliant at freeing up space for their outside backs and Kotaro Matsushima is one who is loving the space he has to attack. Yamanaka has been much safer at fullback and keep Will Tupou out of the 23 and Kenki Fukuoka takes the 23 jumper to add that X-factor off the bench to finish. It is a real testament to this side when a player like Fukuoka cant even make the starting fifteen. Japan look hot and I expect it to stay that way.
Samoa are still in this pool if they can pick up a win here against Japan. Much like previous result it would really throw the pool in the air and give Ireland a massive advantage. Scotland and Samoa sit side by side in a big week for the two sides. Samoa have name a fairly surprising team for this game. Most notable is the omission of Tusi Pisi back to the bench for Ulupano Seuteni and no place at all for Melani Matavao who was very good against Scotland in their last outing. Ed Fidow starts again despite getting two yellow into a red card in his last performance trying too hard to make up lost time, what has he learnt from that? Finally we see Ah See Tuala named to start on the right wing again, fitness has kept him from having his World Cup time this year so hopefully he will make it onto the field. In all honesty, I can not see the Samoan getting much out of this match. Japan is on a massive high and Samoa have been nothing more than disappointing. To come away from Scotland with zero points will be a huge letdown for the side and you have to question their ability to bounce back from that result with their heads held high. It will take a good opening twenty minutes from Japan to sink the Samoans which is a real shame. Lets just hope Samoa can put up a good fight in this game and put in a good lift from their cup so far.
RESULT = Japan by 13
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