The final match in the pool stage of the Rugby World Cup is set to be an absolute cracker as host nation Japan and Scotland clash in Yokohama on Sunday with a place in the quarter finals at stake.
Japan v Scotland, Saturday 13th October, Yokohama, KO 12:45 (South African time)
Weather Forecast – Yokohama Stadium
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Mathieu Raynal (France), Matthew Carley (England)
Television match official: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)
Japan have 3 wins from 3 outings and are on the verge of reaching the quarter finals. At the time of writing this game is under threat from the typhoon due to hit the area on Saturday and if it is cancelled then Japan will go through.
Assuming the game does go ahead and also that Ireland don't lose to Samoa on Saturday then Japan still need something from this game to go through and deny Scotland who trail them by 4 log points in the pool standings. If Japan top the pool they will face South Africa in the last 8, if they finish runners up they will take on the All Blacks.
Last time out Japan beat Samoa 38-19. They led 16-9 at half time and although Samoa were still within 7 points of the hosts heading into the final 10 minutes Japan pulled away with 2 late tries.
In earlier results Japan defied the odds to beat Ireland 19-12. They started that game as 20 point underdogs and trailed 12-3 after 20 minutes before reducing the deficit to 12-9 at half time. An inspired second half display gave Japan a famous victory.
Japan had started with a 30-10 bonus point win over Russia, a margin of victory that was around half of what the handicap had predicted.
Scotland are keener then any nation to see the game take place as cancellation (coupled with an Ireland win on Saturday) would see them eliminated. The Scots kept their quarter finals hopes alive when dishing out a 61-0 hiding to Russia last time out, boosting their points difference in the process to +71 compared to Japan's +46. Scotland easily covered the pre-match handicap of around 34 points in that match.
In earlier results Scotland lost their opening game of the tournament 27-3 to Ireland and their failure to take even a losing bonus point from that match could still be their undoing. The Scots subsequently put themselves on the board with a 34-0 bonus point victory over Samoa in their second outing, covering a a pre-match betting handicap which had been set in the late teens.
Japan: 15 William Tupou, 14 Kotaro Matsushima, 13 Timothy Lafaele, 12 Ryoto Nakamura, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Yutaka Nagare, 8 Kazuki Himeno, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Michael Leitch (c), 5 James Moore, 4 Luke Thompson, 3 Jiwon Koo, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Keita Inagaki
Replacements: 16 Atsushi Sakate, 17 Isileli Nakajima, 18 Asaeli Ai Valu, 19 Uwe Helu, 20 Hendrik Tui, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Rikiya Matsuda, 23 Ryohei Yamanaka
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Darcy Graham, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Jamie Ritchie, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Allan Dell
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Zander Fagerson, 19 Scott Cummings, 20 Ryan Wilson, 21 George Horne, 22 Pete Horne, 23 Blair Kinghorn
Head to Head
The teams have met 11 times with Scotland winning 10 and Japan 1.
The most recent meetings came in Japan in June 2016 and Scotland won both matches, 26-13 and 21-16
In RWC 2015 Scotland won a pool stage match 45-10
In RWC 2003 Scotland won a pool stage match 32-11
In RWC 1991 Scotland won a pool stage match 47-9
Early betting - Handicap
Japan +2.5 points at 9/10
Scotland -2.5 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.
What a cracking end to the group stages (assuming the game is played of course) and I must agree with the money that has come onto Scotland forcing the Japanese price out over the last few days. The Scots were below their best against Ireland, but they can beat the home side who have had an incredible tournament but are not quite in Scotland’s league in my opinion.
It should be close though and a Scotland win by 12 or less is my call.
Bet: Scotland win by 1-12 points inclusive 14/10 at WSB