With England v France and New Zealand v Italy called off due to Typhoon Hagibis, Simon Mail previews Saturday's sole game with Ireland bidding to seal their place in the quarter-finals...
"Three of Ireland's five victories against Samoa have been by between 21 and 30 points and another comfortable win looks likely."
Ireland v Samoa
Live on ITV
Ireland not giving up on top spot
Ireland have control of their own destiny heading into the final pool match knowing a bonus-point victory against Samoa will take them into the quarter-finals. While Scotland must wait anxiously to see whether their decider against Japan on Sunday can go ahead, with Typhoon Hagibis threatening to shatter their World Cup hopes, Ireland are in a relatively straight forward position.
Considering Ireland were beaten by hosts Japan in their second match, Joe Schmidt's side are arguably slightly fortunate to be close to sealing a last-eight place and still in with a shout of finishing top. Of course, Ireland romped to a convincing opening win against Scotland and this may ultimately prove decisive. A laboured 35-0 victory against Russia was unspectacular but the bonus-point win has put them on course for a quarter-final against either New Zealand or South Africa.
Schmidt has made 11 changes from the team which defeated Russia with outside centre Robbie Henshaw making his first appearance in this year's tournament after recovering from a hamstring injury. Scrum-half Conor Murray returns to renew his half-back partnership with Johnny Sexton while Jordan Larmour is brought back in at full-back.
Samoa plotting closing upset
Samoa won their opening match against Russia but have since lost 34-0 against Scotland and 38-19 to Japan last weekend. Steve Jackson's side certainly played their part against the hosts though as they were in the contest until Japan pulled away late on. Samoa were let down by their poor discipline against Scotland and will need to keep all their players on the pitch to compete against Ireland in Fukuoka.
Ireland have selected a strong team and it would be a huge surprise if they failed to put Samoa away. In their six previous clashes, Ireland have beaten them five times and it is difficult to see the Pacific islanders scuppering their hopes of progressing to the quarter-finals. It has certainly not been a smooth pool stage for Ireland but they can sign off with a convincing victory against Samoa.
The handicap mark is set at 27 points and this looks borderline. Instead, Ireland are an appealing price to claim a win by 21 to 30 points. Three of Ireland's five victories against Samoa have been by between 21 and 30 points and another comfortable win looks likely. With four tries necessary to ensure they do not have to wait nervously for Japan's result against Scotland, Ireland are fancied to get the job done with something to spare.
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P/L 2019-20 season