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FUKUOKA, JAPAN—A seven-try, 47-5 win against Samoa secured Ireland’s place in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals, removing any doubt about its progression to the knockout stages.
One major unknown remains: Will it be defending champion New Zealand or South Africa next? The answer to that, at least for now, is as variable as the weather.
The destructive typhoon that was hitting Japan’s main island while Ireland was beating Samoa down south in Fukuoka forced at least three games to be cancelled — two on Saturday and the Canada-Namibia match that was to open play Sunday — and cast doubt over the chances of Japan and Scotland getting to play in Yokohama. Officials finally gave the match the go-ahead.
Ireland’s bonus-point win, achieved despite being a player down for more than half the game, means Scotland has to beat Japan to have any chance of advancing. Ireland moved atop Pool A with 16 points, two more than Japan and six clear of Scotland. Cancelled games are logged as 0-0 ties and both teams are awarded two competition points, which would have been enough for Japan to qualify for the knockout stage for the first time.
There were plenty of permutations heading into the last weekend of the group stage, so Ireland needed to ensure it controlled its own quarterfinal destiny. The bonus point was wrapped up before halftime, with fly half Johnny Sexton crossing for two tries.
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