It’s been a pool stage filled with high-scoring matches, controversial calls, and heartbreak for many. The stage of safety nets is now over, the knockout stages are almost upon us, and teams are scrambling around to ensure their spot in the latter stages of the competition.
Let’s see how the pools stand:
New Zealand vs. Uruguay
France vs. Italy
France have looked simply unplayable at their best, and slightly flat at their worst. For a country known to implode under great stress, this squad has displayed team cohesion that only comes about following years of group building. Their initial statement victory over the All Blacks signaled the start of the great French domination in this competition, with the hosts expected to unleash a resounding victory this weekend, over an Italian side that shipped almost 100 points to the All Blacks in their last match.
If Italy does, somehow, manage to prove that their loss against the All Blacks was indeed a blip and pull off the greatest upset of the competition so far, then the hosts would be unceremoniously dumped from the competition – subject to the All Blacks taking victory over Uruguay. If the All Blacks do fail to beat Uruguay, then it would be them, instead, that would face elimination, with France and Italy proceeding to the next round.
The expectations are that both France and the All Blacks will win their matches and head through in first and second place respectively.
Ireland vs. Scotland
Tonga vs. Romania
The three-horse race between Ireland, South Africa, and Scotland will prove fascinating, with the two northern hemisphere sides facing off in their own final on Saturday. The Springboks have all but confirmed themselves a place in the quarter-finals after a hard-fought victory over Tonga on Sunday night.
It’s now up to Scotland and Ireland to battle it out to decide the order of the pool. A million and one different eventualities could come about following this match, but the simple fact is that Scotland will need a bonus point victory over Ireland to give themselves a chance of a place in the quarter-finals.
For the full breakdown, click here: Incredible spreadsheet shows exactly how Scotland can progress to the quarter finals | Rugbydump
Wales vs. Georgia
Fiji vs. Portugal
Wales sit pretty on top of the table thanks to their recent demolition of Australia and have just one more game against Georgia to go before they can confirm themselves as pool C winners.
Fiji will also expect themselves to take the win against a Portugal side that has achieved just one draw in the tournament so far. This draw did come against a Georgian side that Fiji so nearly fell to in their last match, however. So Pacific islanders will need to ensure that they are fully on form and prepared if they are going to progress to the next stage and dump out Australia from the competition.
Fiji need just one point to ensure qualification – a target that many expect them to exceed.
England vs. Samoa
Japan vs. Argentina
With England already qualified in an almost certain first place, it comes down to Argentina and Japan who are both currently five points behind England. These two sides face off against each other in their own battle, as they look to create a spark in a competition that has not really been theirs as of yet. A draw would see Argentina progress based on the current points difference, whilst a win on either side would result in the victors proceeding.
England face Samoa in an unpressured match which see’s them need just the one point to guarantee first place.