Ireland to meet the All Blacks, thrilling Japan put Scotland to the sword
The Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the Rugby World Cup with The Irish Times sports team
Japan celebrate their victory over Scotland in Yokohama. Photograph: Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty
The All Blacks stand between Ireland and a place in a maiden Rugby World Cup semi-final. Joe Schmidt’s side secured their place in the last-eight with a convincing 47-5 win over a poor Samoa in Fukuoka on Saturday, running in seven tries in a bonus-point victory. However Japan’s thrilling 28-21 win over Scotland in Yokohama yesterday ensured Ireland progressed as runners-up - and they are now on a collision course with New Zealand. As Gerry Thornley writes: “If this Ireland are to boldly go where no Irish team has ever gone before in a World Cup and reach a first ever semi-final then they will merely have to dethrone the back-to-back world champions New Zealand in Tokyo next Saturday. That’s all.” This will be the fifth meeting between the two sides in the Joe Schmidt era, with the score currently at two wins apiece after Ireland’s famous victories in Chicago and again in Dublin last November. But their hopes of reaching the last four are hampered by the potential absence of Bundee Aki, who was sent off during Saturday’s win over Samoa for a high tackle on outhalf Ulupano Seuteni. The Connacht and Ireland centre faces a disciplinary hearing in Tokyo today (11.30am Irish time) with his participation in the rest of the tournament hanging in the balance.
Ireland’s All Blacks fate was sealed by a stunning, riotous performance from the host nation Japan against Scotland yesterday, as they ran out 28-21 winners in Yokohama. The Pool A finale had looked unlikely to go ahead due to Storm Hagibis, but it was given the green light on Sunday morning before Scotland flew out of the blocks with an early Finn Russell try. From there, the Brave Blossoms dominated, running Gregor Townsend’s side ragged with a stirring, incisive display which booked them their place in a maiden quarter-final. Keith Duggan writes: “It’s hard to fathom that a country could absorb one of its fiercest and most unforgiving weather events in half a century and, then, within 12 hours, see its national team put on a display of exhilarating and uninhibited attacking rugby. World Rugby must have been swooning.” Jamie Joseph’s side will now meet the Springboks on Sunday (kick-off 11.15am), as they look to recreate their heroics of Brighton in 2015. That game follows a European clash between Wales and France (8.15am), after Warren Gatland’s side cemented their place at the top of Pool D with a hard-fought 35-13 win over Uruguay yesterday. On Saturday England will meet Australia in Oita (8.15am) before Ireland against the All Blacks in Tokyo (11.15am).