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Rugby World Cup permutations: Scotland, Italy's last chance, Ireland, France, Fiji under pressure?

Rugby World Cup - Pool B: Scotland's last chance; Ireland under pressure? Pool C: Fiji to formally dump Wallabies out? Wales already through; Pool A: Italy's unlikely shot vs Les Bleus; All Blacks well placed; Pool D: England assured of top spot; Argentina, Japan fight it out for QF

Russell, Keenan, Alldritt

We look ahead to a crucial week of Rugby World Cup action, as Scotland and Italy face last chances, while Ireland, hosts France and Fiji may be feeling a bit of pressure...

Pool B: Scotland's last chance; Ireland under pressure?

Only one place to start with ahead of the final weekend of pool stage fixtures, and that's the group of death in Pool B, where one of Scotland, Ireland or South Africa will exit the tournament on Saturday.

The trio came into the World Cup all inside the world's top five in terms of rankings (Ireland No 1, South Africa No 2, Scotland No 5), but a brute of a draw has been handed their way.

Pool B

Position Team Played Won Drawn Lost Score difference Points
1 South Africa 4 3 0 1 +117 15
2 Ireland 3 3 0 0 +122 14
3 Scotland 3 2 0 1 +97 10
4 Tonga 3 0 0 3 -102 0
5 Romania 3 0 0 3 -234 0

With the Springboks having completed their pool fixture schedule last Sunday with a 49-18 win over Tonga in Marseille, they must watch on as Ireland and Scotland face off at the Stade de France in Paris on Saturday (8pm kick off BST).

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Watch as Australia and South Africa responded to defeats with wins over Portugal and Tonga

With South Africa having already beaten Scotland 18-3 during the first weekend, Gregor Townsend's Scots must beat Ireland to stand any hope of reaching the quarter-finals, but owing to the fact Ireland beat South Africa 13-8 two weeks ago, Scotland must beat Ireland and also deny them a losing bonus point.

The odds are on Scotland exiting, therefore, but a win of eight points or more will see Scotland leapfrog Ireland and leave Andy Farrell's side stranded and out of the World Cup.

There is also one highly unlikely scenario where Ireland and Scotland may both progress at South Africa's expense, and that is if the Scots beat Ireland by at least 21 points, achieve a try bonus-point in doing so (at least four tries), and Ireland also pick up a try bonus-point of their own in defeat.

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Image: Ireland recorded a superb victory over South Africa in their last match

An Ireland victory of any kind will see them top Pool B, and face a likely quarter-final against New Zealand. The runner-up in this pool is likely to face hosts France in the quarters...

Pool C: Fiji need a point to formally dump Wallabies out; Wales already through

After stellar performances in defeat against Wales and victory vs Australia, Fiji looked like a side inhibited by the pressure of expectation last week against Georgia.

Indeed, the Flying Fijians could easily have lost the Test on the day, but did recover in the end to crucially win 17-12 in Bordeaux.

Pool C

Position Team Played Won Drawn Lost Score difference Points
1 Wales 3 3 0 0 +60 14
2 Australia 4 2 0 2 -1 11
3 Fiji 3 2 0 1 +6 10
4 Georgia 3 0 1 2 -25 3
5 Portugal 3 0 1 2 -40 2

The fact Fiji failed to pick up a bonus-point in victory means there is still work for them to do heading into the final weekend, despite Australia losing twice already to Fiji and Wales.

Fiji's Levani Botia, center right, celebrates with teammates after beating Georgia to edge closer to Rugby World Cup quarter-finals
Image: Fiji eventually picked up a crucial victory over Georgia last weekend, but it was a nervy display

Fiji face Portugal on Sunday in Toulouse (8pm kick off BST), and need a solitary point - either a victory, try bonus point or losing bonus point - to make sure of their quarter-final place and Australia's first ever pool stage exit from a Rugby World Cup.

Portugal have given Wales and Australia scares already in this World Cup, and so Fiji will hope to put on a show and gain some confidence ahead of a likely quarter-final meeting with England, which would represent a first knock-out appearance since 2007.

Fiji could still overtake Wales and top the pool, if Warren Gatland's charges - who are already qualified - lose to Georgia on Saturday (2pm kick off BST) in Nantes, and Fiji pick up a bonus-point success.

Pool A: Italy's unlikely shot vs Les Bleus; All Blacks well-placed

And what of Pool A? Italy were always going to have two chances to progress to the quarter-finals once they won their initial two fixtures against Namibia and Uruguay with bonus points, but the first of those was obliterated in embarrassing fashion last week, as the Azzurri suffered a 96-17 defeat to New Zealand.

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The best of the action from New Zealand's huge win against Italy at the Rugby World Cup

Italy remain just three points behind France in the Pool A table, however, as Les Bleus failed to beat Uruguay with a bonus point, and the Azzurri face France on Friday in Lyon (8pm kick off BST) knowing victory will dump the hosts and favourites out of their home World Cup.

Pool A

Position Team Played Won Drawn Lost Score difference Points
1 France 3 3 0 0 +125 13
2 New Zealand 3 2 0 1 +133 10
3 Italy 3 2 0 1 -14 10
4 Uruguay 3 1 0 2 -26 5
5 Namibia 4 0 0 4 -218 0

Les Bleus are likely to be without skipper Antoine Dupont for that clash, and may well be a little nervous heading into the contest, albeit they will still heavily back themselves to pick up the victory required to progress.

The All Blacks face Uruguay on Thursday in Lyon (8pm kick off BST), where victory will guarantee them a quarter-final place.

Pool D: England assured of top spot; Argentina and Japan fight it out for last-eight place

Pool D

Position Team Played Won Drawn Lost Score difference Points
1 England 3 3 0 0 +110 14
2 Argentina 3 2 0 1 +46 9
3 Japan 3 2 0 1 +14 9
4 Samoa 3 1 0 2 +18 6
5 Chile 4 0 0 4 -188 0

Lastly to Pool D, where England are assured of top spot and progression to the quarters already ahead of their final pool fixture against Samoa on Saturday in Lille (4.45pm kick off BST).

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Highlights of Japan against Samoa at the Rugby World Cup - a result which sent England into the quarter-finals

Argentina and Japan are both locked on nine points, five below England, meaning even an England defeat and bonus-point wins for either will see them finish beneath Steve Borthwick's men owing to the head-to-head tiebreaker.

The final game of the pool sees the Pumas face the Brave Blossoms on Sunday in Nantes (12pm kick off BST) in a winner-takes-all clash for the final quarter-final slot and a likely meeting with Wales.

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