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

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

4. Pool D: Japan vs Argentina – 12:00 Noon KO, Nantes

The Argentina squad during the National anthems before the Autumn Nations Series Match between England and Argentina at Twickenham Stadium on 6 November 2022. Photo: Frankie OKeeffe/PPAUK

The all-important fixture in Pool D this weekend, sees Japan take on Argentina with the winner progressing to the quarter-finals. The stakes don’t come any bigger for the two nations, and amongst all of the convoluted Rugby World Cup permutations it could not be any clearer… win and go through, loose and go home.

Both sides are level on points, having each recorded wins over Samoa and Chile. Los Pumas and the Brave Blossoms were also both beaten by England, with a clear hierarchy established in the lay-out of Pool D. If the match was to end in a well-contested draw, the quarter-final spot will be decided as follows (calculators at the ready):

If both teams get try-scoring bonus points in the draw, Argentina will go through on points difference. If just Japan get a try-scoring bonus point and Argentina do not, then Japan will go through. If neither side get a try-scoring bonus points in a drawn match, Argentina will go through, unless Samoa beat England by 29 points or more. Then Samoa will progress through in second place.

Let’s hope that this match isn’t decided by terms and conditions, and that a clear winner is decided on the pitch this Sunday. Los Pumas have the better record in this fixture, having won their past five out of six matches against Japan. Argentina’s currently hold a three-match winning streak over the men from the Far East, however, this meeting will be the first since 2016.

The last time these two sides collided Argentina racked up a 54-20 win, with his margin of victory standing as the Pumas’ best ever against Japan. The two sides have met just once before at the Rugby World Cup, with Argentina again taking the victory 33-12, in the 1999 tournament. Japan’s best weapon comes from gain-line break percentage (57.4%). The Brave Blossoms form over their opposition’s line is the second best out of any side in the competition, only behind New Zealand (67.2%).

Wales fans will be sure to tune into this match, as they will likely take on the winner in the knock-out stages. Should Warren Gatland’s side top Pool C with a win over Georgia, then Wales will take on the winner of Sunday’s midday kick-off. This one is the hardest match to predict of the weekend, and it could really go either way.

There is no denying the Rugby World Cup talents of Japan, and their ability to pull off big wins against tier one opponents. However, we favour Argentina, who entered the tournament in better form with a win over Australia. Los Pumas have sharpened their claws on Chile and Samoa, with a spot in the quarter-finals now well in their grasp.

RUCK Prediction: Japan 24 – 28 Argentina

5. Pool C: Fiji vs Portugal – 20:00 KO, Toulouse

The final match of the 2023 Rugby World Cup pool stages, Fiji are the deciders of their own destiny in this Sunday’s closing match. The Pacific Islanders need just one point from their match against Portugal to progress into the quarter-finals, and send Eddie Jones’ Australia out at the pool stages for what is arguably the shock of the tournament so far. The Wallabies have played all their pool stage matches, and nervously sit just one point ahead of Fiji, in second in Pool C.

After Simon Raiwalui’s side recorded a breath-taking 22-15 upset win over the Wallabies, they were presented with the task of accruing a total of five points in two matches. Fiji’s latest endeavours saw them run out a 17-12 win over Georgia, and gained four pool stage points in the process. They could not obtain the illusive bonus point, with Wallabies fans praying that Portugal stop the Flying Fijians from taking off in Toulouse.

Fiji entered the Rugby World Cup in inspired form, with a clean sweep in the 2023 Pacific Nations Cup and a first-ever victory over England, wrapping up their preparations in style. Despite losing their talismanic fly half Caleb Muntz to injury, Fiji have pressed on to be this year’s Rugby World Cup dark horses. Fiji and Portugal meet for just the third time in their history, with the Pacific Islanders taking the two previous wins.

Portugal have never won a match at the Rugby World Cup, with this being their second appearance at the competition. The Wolves embarked on their maiden voyage in 2007, yet have gone one better than they did some 16 years ago. Portugal avoided defeat for the first time, in their 18-18 draw against Georgia a fortnight ago, and like the progressing rugby nations of Chile, Uruguay and Namibia, Portuguese rugby is certainly on the up. ‘Os Lobos’ could well be a re-occurring face at the competition in years to come.

RUCK Prediction: Fiji 36 – 12 Portugal