"Final Pool Round" - Top 5 Rugby World Cup Matches to Watch this Weekend - Page 2 of 3 - Ruck

“Final Pool Round” – Top 5 Rugby World Cup Matches to Watch this Weekend

Saturday October 7th

2. Pool D: England vs Samoa – 16:45 KO, Lille

England team line up for the national anthems during the Six Nations Championship match between England and Wales at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on February 26th 2021. – PHOTO: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

England fans could not have dreamt up a better scenario coming into the Rugby World Cup. Steve Borthwick’s men have found their form after an underwhelming Six Nations and Summer Series, and hit top gear when it mattered the most. England have already qualified for the knock-out stages as Pool D Winners, and they will take on either Wales, Fiji or Australia in the quarter-finals.

England and Samoa are set to meet for the ninth time in their history, with England taking the win in each of the previous eight meetings. However, a similar scenario applied when England last took on a Pacific Island nation, before Fiji recorded their first-ever win over England back in August. Complacency could cost England against Samoa, with Borthwick expected to shuffle the deck and allow his World Cup fringe players a chance to take centre stage.

Steve Borthwick, Head Coach of England Rugby during the England Rugby Captains Run ahead of the Six Nations Match between Wales and England at Principality Stadium, London on 24 Feb 2023 (Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

With a spot in the quarter-finals already achieved, Borthwick could well alter his team selection, and give the likes of Harlequins hooker Jack Walker a first Rugby World Cup start. These players will be chomping at the bit to impress their Head Coach ahead of the knock-out stages, and stake their claim for a place in the match-day 23 when England enter the latter rounds of the competition.

England will also be looking to break a long standing pool stage record this weekend, as they have now won seven of their last Rugby World Cup pool matches. However, they have never won eight consecutive pool stage matches, and will want to make history in Lille. England come into the match off the back of their second biggest Rugby World Cup winning margin, following the 71-0 onslaught win over Chile.

Despite the nation being renowned for fast-flowing flair in attack, Samoa’s major strengths have been at the set piece. The South Sea Islanders have scored more tries from rolling mauls (3), and made more meters per maul (5.3m) in the set-piece than any other team at the competition. This will certainly be an enticing encounter, with England looking to roll the dice to see out the pool stages in style.

RUCK Prediction: England 31 – 16 Samoa

3. Pool B Ireland vs Scotland – 20:00 KO, Saint-Denis

All hope is not lost for Scotland, with a glimpse of the Rugby World Cup knock-out stages still visible over the Irish wall. Gregor Townsend’s side must beat Ireland if they want to progress, and deny Andy Farrell’s men a bonus point. This will see South Africa then top the pool, with Scotland progressing through in second on the ‘head-to-head’ rule. However, if Ireland successfully obtain a bonus point and Scotland do not, Ireland will then finish at the top of the pool, with the Springboks in second.

The task at hand is easier for Ireland, who need two points from the match to qualify for the quarter-finals. Fortune certainly favours Farrell’s side, who have rightfully earned their advantageous position with their 13-8 victory over South Africa a fortnight ago. The Springboks have played all four of their matches, and finished their pool stage campaign with a 49-18 win over Tonga last weekend. Scotland hit top gear in their dominant display against Romania, with the 84-0 thrashing being the heaviest defeat for the Oaks in Pool B.

Ireland are on a hot run of form against Scotland, with a win this weekend equalling their all-time best run of victories. Ireland have won their last eight consecutive matches against the Scots, with their all-time record set at nine wins in a row. This run of victories took place on either side of the Second World War, beginning in 1939, and running until 1954. The two side’s share a 1-1 record at Rugby World Cups, with this decisive match completing a trio that includes Scotland’s 24-15 win at Murrayfield in 1991, and Ireland’s 27-3 win in Japan four years ago.

Ireland are undoubtedly in generational form. The men from the Emerald Isle have won their last 16 consecutive test matches, their best record ever. This run of victories dates back to Ireland’s 2022 Summer Tour of New Zealand, when the All Blacks secured a 42-19 win in the first test match, before Ireland went on to win the series 2-1.

Whenever Scotland have lost their first pool stage match at the Rugby World Cup (as they did this year against South Africa) they have gone on to win their final two matches in the pools. However, Ireland certainly present a tougher obstacle than previous pool stage closers, with the odds firmly stacked against Townsend’s men this weekend.

RUCK Prediction: Ireland 38 – 15 Scotland