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Pool A permutations: Beating Samoa with four tries will book quarter-final place – but maybe not top spot

While it now seems virtually assured that Ireland’s final pool game against Samoa will indeed take place in Fukuoka on Saturday everything else remains somewhat up in the air after Scotland banked their expected try-bonus victory over Russia today.

Typhoon Hagibis now seems set for a more northerly trajectory ruling out all manner of travel and scheduling chaos and to keep things similarly straightforward all Joe Schmidt’s men need to do is beat the Pacific Islanders while scoring four tries.

That would take them to 16 points a tally that would have them in the last eight regardless of events in the game between Japan and Scotland the next day, although admittedly still waiting to find out just who they would face in the quarters.

If Ireland have taken a maximum haul the day before, a win for Scotland would see Gregor Townsend’s men finish second, and presumably face the All Blacks, with Ireland keeping hold of the top spot they would have by then taken from Japan to meet South Africa.

Again with Ireland on 16 total points, a win for the hosts would see them then take the pool, likely setting up a clash with the Springboks and a repeat of the unforgettable game of four years ago. Ireland would be tracking to face the New Zealand.

Similarly simple, if Ireland lose to Samoa, they cannot top the pool but would still go through in second providing Scotland don’t better their return by two match points or more.

So far, so good. It’s if Ireland beat Samoa but without a bonus that will require much perspiration and many calculators come Sunday.

Four match points would take Ireland onto 15, a tally that Scotland would match with a try bonus victory. If that were to happen and Japan were to claim a single point in defeat – either through four tries or finishing withing seven – then all three sides would finish on 15 points.

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Barring a wholly unlikely combination of points scored via penalties rather than tries, Scotland would top the pool by virtue of having the best points difference leaving the remaining two sides to be separated by head to head. Ireland, of course, lost to Japan and would therefore be out.

If Ireland took only four points and Scotland five but Japan two – by virtue of scoring four tries and finishing within seven – Ireland would be offered a reprieve having beaten Scotland in head-to-head.

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