RWC 2019: England versus Argentina leads key fixtures taking place this weekend

David Cooper - Writer 09:40 03/10/2019
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England will be bidding to continue their strong form when they take on Argentina in their third pool match of the Rugby World Cup.

Elsewhere, Ireland are aiming to bounce back against Russia in Kobe, following their 19-12 defeat to hosts Japan.

Here’s a look at the fixtures taking place over the weekend:

GEORGIA V FIJI (Thursday, 09:15)

Towering flanker Peceli Yato will return from a head injury for Fiji’s vital Pool D game against Georgia.

Yato suffered a concussion in Fiji’s opening match after a high tackle by Australia’s Reece Hodge – who later became the first player to receive a suspension at the competition.

Fiji lost 39-21 to the Wallabies before suffering an embarrassing upset against minnows Uruguay.

Coach John McKee made 11 changes to the team that slumped to Uruguay as Fiji seek to climb off the bottom of the pool with victory in Osaka.

Merab Sharikadze will become Georgia’s third captain of the tournament after coach Milton Haig changed 11 of the players who started in the 33-7 win over Uruguay.

Prediction: Fiji by 10 points

IRELAND V RUSSIA (Thursday, 14:15)

Fly-half Johnny Sexton will captain Ireland against Russia after recovering from a thigh injury.

The 34-year-old missed the Men in Green’s 19-12 defeat to Japan on Saturday, which has thrown Pool A wide open, with an injury sustained in the opening round bonus-point victory over Scotland.

Sexton was one of 11 changes made by Joe Schmidt, in what is the Kiwi’s final tournament before he signs off after six years as Ireland head coach.

Ulster man Jordi Murphy is handed a start at number eight having replaced the injured Jack Conan in the 31-man squad.

For Russia, Vasily Artemyev skippers the side from full-back and will earn his 89th cap against Ireland – a country where he spent three years in boarding school at Blackrock College in Dublin.

Prediction: Ireland by 55 points

SOUTH AFRICA V ITALY (Friday, 13:45)

Springboks props Tendai Mtawarira and Bongi Mbonambi, as well as lock Lood de Jager, have been promoted to the Springboks’ starting line-up for Friday’s clash with Italy in Shizuoka.

The inclusion of the three tight forwards are the only changes to the team that lost 23-13 to New Zealand in their opening Pool B clash on September 21.

Elsewhere, Italy’s inspirational number eight Sergio Parisse will become rugby union’s second most capped player when he skippers the Azzurri against the Boks.

Parisse will win his 142nd cap, overtaking Ireland legend Brian O’Driscoll, with the All Blacks’ Richie McCaw atop the overall list with 149 Test appearances.

Italy coach Conor O’Shea retained 12 of the team that beat Canada 48-7, handing starting berths to Tito Tebaldi, Luca Morisi and star man Parisse.

Prediction: South Africa by 30 points

AUSTRALIA V URUGUAY (Saturday 09:15)

Teenage sensation Jordan Petaia will become Australia’s youngest Rugby World Cup player after the winger was named to start against Uruguay.

The 19-year-old got the nod on the left-wing, after a serious hamstring injury during the Super Rugby season delayed his international debut.

The Wallabies are coming off a 29-25 defeat against Wales which leaves them odds-on to finish runners-up to the Dragons in Pool D, and potentially having to face England in a World Cup quarter-final.

Captain Michael Hooper is one of only two players retained up front along with prop Allan Alaalatoa as head coach Michael Cheika made 12 rotations to his starting XV.

Matt To’omua, who starred at fly-half against Wales, will earn his 50th cap as he shifts to inside centre in partnership with Tevita Kuridrani.

Nic White and Christian Lealiifano were preferred as Australia’s half-back combination.

Prediction: Australia by 50 points

ENGLAND V ARGENTINA (Saturday, 12pm)

The game of the weekend.

England are in pole position to top the pool, having opened with comprehensive victories over Tonga (35-3) and the United States (45-7).

Argentina though are likely to present their toughest challenge so far, despite losing to France in round one.

Mario Ledesma’s side still have an outside chance of making the quarter-finals if they can beat the Red Rose in Tokyo.

Both sides are expected to be at full strength.

England could even fast-track influential prop Mako Vunipola’s return to the starting line-up, despite him only playing 17 minutes of rugby since undergoing hamstring surgery back in May.

Prediction: England by 15 points

JAPAN V SAMOA (Saturday, 14:30)

After their sizzling victory over Ireland, hosts Japan are hoping to take the next step towards their first quarter-finals appearance with victory over Samoa.

Japan beat Ireland 19-12 in a match head coach Jamie Joseph said his team had been preparing for, for three years.

While the Brave Blossoms may not have been eyeing up their Samoa game for as long, that doesn’t mean they will come underprepared.

The Samoan pack is one of the heaviest, and Japan know that fronting up in the scrum will be key to giving their elusive backs the chance to cause problems.

With Pool A so finely poised – Japan on nine points, three ahead of Ireland and four ahead of Scotland – bonus points could be key.

Prediction: Japan by 17 points

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