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Japan v Scotland: Brave Blossoms to clinch quarter-final in gripping decider

Japan wing Kotaro Matsushima
Japan wing Kotaro Matsushima's finishing has helped his side win their first three games
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Simon Mail previews a huge final day of the World Cup pool stage with Scotland - weather permitting - facing hosts Japan in a decider for the quarter-finals, and Wales looking to secure top spot...

"Japan have answered every question posed so far in the tournament and backed by huge home support can overcome Scotland to seal qualification."

Japan v Scotland
Sunday, 11:45
Live on ITV

Hosts close to first last-eight appearance

The biggest game of the final round of the World Cup pool stage is scheduled to take place on Sunday with hosts Japan facing Scotland. Typhoon Hagibis still threatens to ruin this decisive Yokohama clash and Scotland will be desperate for the match to take place as cancellation will result in their exit. As it stands, Gregor Townsend's side need to beat Japan and deny them a losing bonus point to progress. If the game is cancelled, any bets made on Exchange or Sportsbook will be voided.

Japan have been a revelation in the tournament with Jamie Joseph's team winning their first three matches. It leaves the Brave Blossoms on the brink of qualifying for the quarter-finals for the first time. Japan produced an outstanding performance to defeat Ireland in their second match and backed this up with a 38-19 victory against Samoa, securing a last-minute bonus point which could prove significant.

Scotland under intense pressure in finale

Scotland made the worst possible start after their dismal defeat to Ireland but have responded impressively with a 34-0 win against Samoa and a 61-0 victory over Russia on Wednesday. This is a huge step up though and Scotland, who have dropped captain Stuart McInally, will have to be at their best if they are to deny Japan from making history in front of their home fans.

Japan have never beaten Scotland although they will see as their best opportunity to claim a victory. The last meeting came three years ago and Scotland edged to a 21-16 win and the gap has been closing in recent games. There is a huge amount at stake and Scotland are marginal favourites for the decider but it looks worth siding with the hosts.

Scotland have it all to do with a win not enough alone to guarantee a quarter-final and the pressure could tell on Townsend's side. Japan have answered every question posed so far in the tournament and backed by huge home support can overcome Scotland to seal qualification. Although this is a much-changed Scotland side, teams competing in a short four-day turnaround have struggled and Japan can take advantage of this by clinching a quarter-final place.

Wales v Uruguay
Sunday, 09:15
Live on ITV

Wales to seal top spot in style

Wales have already booked their quarter-final place and Warren Gatland's side should seal top spot with a comfortable win against Uruguay. Victories against Georgia, Australia and Fiji have put them on course to face France in the last-eight. With only four days since their 29-17 win against Fiji, Gatland has made 13 changes with Josh Adams, fresh from scoring a hat-trick, keeping his place.

Uruguay pulled off a stunning upset in their World Cup opener as they shocked Fiji in a 30-27 win. The South Americans put everything into this match and unsurprisingly have struggled to maintain this high standard in their last two games. Uruguay lost 33-7 to Georgia before a 45-10 defeat to Australia last week.

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Wales have only faced Uruguay once previously and it resulted in a 54-9 victory at the last World Cup. There is no doubt Uruguay have made significant strides since then though and the underdogs look worth supporting in the handicap market. Wales will win this easily enough but a 44-point handicap for Uruguay looks generous.

USA v Tonga
Sunday, 06:45
Live on ITV

Tonga to sign off with win

Tonga may have lost their three matches in Japan but the side came away with credit from their most recent game against France. Trailing by ten points at half-time, Tonga fought back as two second-half tries saw them push France all the way in a 23-21 defeat. Head coach Toutai Kefu will urge his team to take this performance into their final match as they bid to sign off with a win.

USA have also lost all of their matches at this World Cup and Gary Gold's side have struggled to make an impression. In their opening game, USA were hammered by England before late tries helped France pull away. A young Argentina side eased to a 47-17 win last weekend and the Americans will have targeted this match as a big opportunity to claim a victory.

This looks a closely-matched contest although Tonga have dominated previous meetings, winning eight of the nine games against USA. Tonga showed some promise against France and their power could be enough to tip this in their balance. The most recent game between them in 2016 finished in a 20-17 win for Tonga and the favourites merit support to win by up to 12 points.

Namibia v Canada
Sunday, 04:15
Live on ITV

Close battle in final game on the cards

While New Zealand and Italy were denied the chance to play their final pool game, Namibia and Canada both have an opportunity to end their campaign with a victory. Namibia competed against Italy in their opener, losing 47-22, before predictably one-sided defeats against World Cup contenders South Africa and New Zealand.

Canada have been desperately disappointing during the tournament with Kingsley Jones' side well beaten in all three matches. In their last game, Canada made a dreadful start and finished the match with 14 players after Josh Larsen was sent off in the 66-7 loss to the Springboks. Jones has gone with experience in their final match as they bid to secure a rare competition win.

These two teams cannot be separated in the betting although Canada have beaten Namibia in both of their previous clashes. This suggests Canada might have the edge although their performances in Japan have been unimpressive. The game should be tight but is likely to open up after the break, with plenty of tired players, so backing more tries in the second half stands out in this contest.

Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster

P/L 2019-20 season

Staked: 25.0pts
Returned: 15.0pts
P/L: -10.0pts

Simon Mail,

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