Saturday 19 October 2019

Sexton and Carberry to feature in Samoa clash

Jonathan Sexton (left) and Joey Carbery. Photo: Sportsfile
Jonathan Sexton (left) and Joey Carbery. Photo: Sportsfile
Brendan Fanning

Brendan Fanning

Ireland expect to have Johnny Sexton and Joey Carbery on duty together this week for the first time since the second round of the Six Nations last February.

Injuries have kept them out of the same match-day squad since then but it's understood Sexton will lead the charge for an hour against Samoa in Fukuoka on Saturday with Carbery closing out the final quarter.

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Robbie Henshaw is also due to get his first run of the World Cup. Having played the full 80 minutes against Wales in the final warm-up game, Henshaw pulled a hamstring in the first session after the team's arrival in Japan, and hasn't featured since then.

And it is expected Jordi Murphy will stay with the squad despite suffering a rib injury in the win over Russia last week. Murphy had only arrived as a replacement for Jack Conan, whose ankle injury is much worse than appeared initially. Conan is not expected to be fit again until well into the New Year.

It's unlikely Murphy will recover in time to feature against Samoa, but could be available for the quarter-final in a fortnight if Ireland qualify.

That passage will be virtually guaranteed if they can beat Samoa with a bonus point. Even then it's conceivable that Japan, Ireland and Scotland could all finish Pool A on 15 points. Head-to-head meetings is the first criterion for separating teams tied on match points, with points difference coming next. Going into the last round Ireland are +52, Japan +46 and Scotland +10. The issue was complicated yesterday by the bizarre finish to Japan's 38-19 win over Samoa.

With the game in overtime Samoa passed up an opportunity to kick the ball out - they had nothing to play for at that stage - opting instead for a scrum, at which they were penalised by referee Jaco Peyper for an illegal feed.

Averaging close to 14 scrums per match it was circa the 365th scrum of the tournament. It is unclear as yet how many calls have been made for this, but the law requires that the attacking hooker must strike for the ball.

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Japan made the most of the opportunity to play on as Kotaro Matsushima crossed for their fourth try.

The bonus point for Japan puts the Scots under the most pressure, leaving them needing two bonus-point wins against Russia and Japan, while denying the hosts a bonus point.

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