2019 Rugby World Cup: Japan vs Samoa Preview

Rugby World Cup 2019 host Japan faces Samoa in a Pool A third-round match at City of Toyota Stadium on Saturday, 5 October. Kickoff is at 19:30 local (06:30 ET). The match may be viewed in the U.S. on-demand on NBC Sports Gold and on TSN channels 1 and 4 in Canada.

The Pool A standings have Ireland topping the Pool after a third-round 35-0 win over Russia on 3 October. Japan opened the World Cup with a win over Russia and then beat Ireland 19-12. Samoa opened with a 34-9 win over Russia and then lost to Scotland 34-0.

Scotland keeps their hopes alive to advance to the knockouts but can use some Samoan help with either a victory over Japan or Ireland in their concluding pool match on 12 October. Scotland lost to Ireland in their first match and then beat Samoa. Scotland will need to win out against Russia on 9 October and then beat Japan in a short turn-around on 13 October.

Both Japan and Ireland are favored to advance to the Cup Quarterfinals, with only Samoa or Scotland who can derail this.


Japan Head Coach Jamie Joseph made three changes to his starting XV from the win over Ireland.

Pieter Labuschagne continues as captain with fellow flanker Michael Leitch returning to the starting XV, while hooker Atsushi Sakate makes his World Cup debut against Samoa. Wimpie van der Walt also returns to start in place of Luke Thompson, who misses out in the 23-man squad.

Regular hooker Shota Horie is a reserve, while Kazuki Himeno moves to his number eight role after starting as a flanker against Ireland.

All backs are retained, while second-row Uwe Helu makes the bench for the first time. Flanker Hendrik Tui also returns to the matchday squad.


Samoa Head Coach Steve Jackson has made six changes to the starting XV to play Japan on Saturday, since the loss to Scotland.

Loose-head prop Jordan Lay, hooker Seilala Lam, lock Piula Faasalele and fly-half Ulupano Seuteni all make their first starts at RWC 2019.

Ah See Tuala makes his first start, as well as an appearance at the tournament. Ed Fidow was cleared by a disciplinary committee after receiving two yellow cards against Scotland. He is a scoring threat and his return is good news for the team. Tusi Pisi moves to the bench.


Japan: 1. Keita Inagaki 2. Atsushi Sakate 3. Jiwon Koo4. Wimpie van der Walt 5. James Moore 6. Michael Leitch 7. Pieter Labuschagne (capt.) 8. Kazuki Himeno 9. Yutaka Nagare 10. Yu Tamura 11. Lomano Lava Lemeki 12. Ryoto Nakamura 13. Timothy Lafaele 14. Kotaro Matsushima 15. Ryohei Yamanaka 16. Shota Horie 17. Isileli Nakajima 18. Asaeli Ai Valu 19. Uwe Helu 20. Hendrik Tui 21. Fumiaki Tanaka 22. Rikiya Matsuda 23. Kenki Fukuoka

Samoa: 1. Jordan Lay 2. Seilala Lam 3. Michael Alaalatoa 4. Piula Faasalel 5. Kane Le’aupepe 6. Chris Vui 7. TJ Ioane 8. Jack Lam (capt.) 9. Dwayne Polataivao 10. Ulupano Seuteni 11. Ed Fidow 12. Henry Taefu 13. Alapati Leiua 14. Ah See Tuala 15. Tim Nanai-Williams 16. Ray Niuia 17. Paul Alo-Emile 18. James Lay 19. Senio Toleafoa 20. Josh Tyrell 21. Pele Cowley 22. Tusi Pisi 23. Kieron Fonotia

Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant