Sunday 20 October 2019

World Cup permutations: Ireland's slim hopes of avoiding the All Blacks in last eight

Keith Earls, left, and Jonathan Sexton of Ireland
Keith Earls, left, and Jonathan Sexton of Ireland

Jonathan Bradley

IRELAND'S bonus point win over Samoa has Joe Schmidt's men in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup, their fourth try in the victory taking away any possibility of a three-way tie at the top of Pool A between themselves, Scotland and Japan.

Should the Scotland versus Japan game be cancelled in Yokohama tomorrow thanks to Typhoon Hagibis, a prospect that looks increasingly likely, that fixture will go down as a 0-0 draw meaning Japan top the pool on 16 points and, thanks to head-to-head Ireland would finish second and play New Zealand in the quarter-finals in Tokyo on Saturday October 19.

If the Yokohama Stadium is somehow deemed playable, or some other alternative is found at the last minute, then for the hosts a draw or a pair of bonus points would be enough to secure top spot given that unforgettable win over Joe Schmidt's men in Shizuoka.

Again in this instance, Ireland would be preparing for the All Blacks in Tokyo a week from today.

The only way Ireland can top the group is if the game goes ahead and Scotland ensure Japan take one point or less. Only that would give Ireland the extra day of preparation and a quarter-final against South Africa on Sunday October 20.

For Scotland's own last eight hopes, they must win and bank at least four match-points more than Japan to knock the Brave Blossoms out of their own tournament and get themselves a chance to face the back-to-back champions.

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