Pool A of the Rugby World Cup is heading for a thrilling conclusion and on Saturday Ireland bid to secure one of the qualification spots when they take on Samoa at the Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium
Ireland v Samoa, Saturday 12th October, Fukuoka, KO 12:45 (South African time)
Weather Forecast – Fukuoka
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)
Ireland come into the game in second spot in this pool 3 points behind Japan and given the host nation face Scotland (the other nation in contention) on Sunday the destiny of the Irish is in their own hands. Victory here will seal a place in the top 2 and a quarter final match up with South Africa, if Ireland top this pool, or New Zealand if they finish as runners up.
In the betting to win the tournament Ireland are trading at around 14/1. The price for Ireland to reach the final ranges from 7/2 to 9/2 and they can be backed at around 11/5 to reach the semi finals.
Ireland beat Russia 35-0 in their most recent outing to give them an overall record of 2 wins and 1 defeat. They scored 5 tries to secure a bonus point but fell short of the victory margin the pre-match betting handicap had indicated.
In earlier results Ireland lost 19-12 to hosts Japan, a game they led 12-3 after 20 minutes and 12-9 at half time. The Irish had started as 20 point favourites for that game on the back of an impressive 27-3 win over Scotland in their opening match where they also secured a bonus point
Samoa's hopes of an extended stay in the tournament ended when they lost 38-19 to Japan in their third match and they will be heading home after this game. They trailed 16-9 at half time but were still within 7 points of the hosts heading into the final 10 minutes only for Japan to score 2 late tries.
In their second outing Samoa lost 34-0 to Scotland. They had been given an 18 point start by the bookmakers for the clash with the Scots but they were 20-0 down at half time and 2 penalty tries in the second half summed up their day. Samoa started their campaign with a 34-9 bonus point win over Russia. They started that game around 30 point favourites with the bookmakers and despite being reduced to 13 men at one stage in the first half after 2 yellow cards, Samoa hit back from a 6-5 half time deficit to run out comfortable winners.
Ireland: 15 Jordan Larmour, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Tadhg Beirne, 5 James Ryan, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Cian Healy
Replacements: 16 Niall Scannell, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Peter O’Mahony, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Andrew Conway
Samoa: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Ahsee Tuala, 13 Alapati Leiua, 12 Henry Taefu, 11 Ed Fidow, 10 Ulupano Seuteni, 9 Dwayne Polataivao, 8 Jack Lam (c), 7 TJ Ioane, 6 Chris Vui, 5 Kane Le’aupepe, 4 Teofilo Paulo, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Seilala Lam, 1 Logovii Mulipola
Replacements: 16 Ray Niuia, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 Jordan Lay, 19 Piula Faasalele, 20 Josh Tyrell, 21 Pele Cowley, 22 Tusi Pisi, 23 Kieron Fonotia
Head to Head
The teams have met 6 times with Ireland winning 5 to Samoa's 1.
The most recent meeting came in Dublin in November 2013 and Ireland won 40-9.
This will be the first time the teams have met in the RWC.
Early Betting - Handicap
Ireland -25.5 points at 9/10
Samoa +25.5 points at 9/10
Quotes are an average of what was on offer from a selection of bookmakers at the time of writing and are subject to change.
Ireland have named a strong team and I expect them to come out of the Boks quickly with the intention of getting a big lead before pulling the likes of Sexton off. I would not be surprised if they then stepped off the gas and so am leaning towards Ireland to lead by 13 or more at the break.
Bet: 4 units Ireland -12.5 HT handicap at 17/20 at Sunbet