Day 24 at the Rugby World Cup: Australia see off Georgia to reach quarter-finals
Australia saw off Georgia to make sure of their place in the World Cup quarter-finals with a 27-8 win in Fukuroi.
Elsewhere, the impending impact of Typhoon Hagibis continued to be the focus of attention, with Scotland’s crunch final Pool A match against the hosts still in doubt.
Here, the PA news agency wraps up Friday’s key events in Japan and takes a look ahead to Saturday’s only remaining fixture.
Determined Wallabies battle through
Australia overcame testing conditions to score a bonus-point win over Georgia at the Shizuoka Stadium.
Michael Cheika had again selected a much-changed side, which saw Matt To’omua deployed as the Wallabies’ third different fly-half of the tournament while David Pocock stood in as captain.
As both teams battled against gusting winds and driving rain, scrum-half Nic White eventually broke Georgia’s resistance when he wriggled over from close range for the opening try after 22 minutes.
Australia went into half-time 10-3 ahead after number eight Isi Naisarani had been sent to the sin bin for a high tackle – the Wallabies’ third yellow card of the tournament.
Winger Marika Koroibete’s individual effort gave Australia some breathing space before Alexander Todua reduced the arrears again with a try for the Lelos after 70 minutes.
Further scores for Jack Dempsey, from the back of a driving maul, and replacement scrum-half Will Genia in the closing stages put some distance back on the scoreline to send Australia top of Pool D.
Wales, though, will progress as group winners should they avoid defeat against Uruguay on Sunday – with England the likely next opponents for the Wallabies.
Rob Simmons came into the Australia starting XV to make his 100th Test cap – and so become the 11th Wallabies centurion.
While the 30-year-old had a hand in setting up a late try, it was lock Izack Rodda who returned the most impressive figures in what were wretched conditions.
Four tackles, three line-out steals, the highest so far of the tournament, and winning a turnover saw Rodda collect a hard-earned Player of the Match trophy – then dash off to warm up and dry out.
Scotland play the waiting game
Scotland’s final Pool A clash against Japan in Yokohama on Sunday remains under threat of cancellation due to Typhoon Hagibis.
The 1,400km-wide Hagibis – which has been billed as Japan’s biggest storm for more than 50 years – is due to strike the Tokyo-Yokohama region on Saturday with wind speeds in excess of 160mph.
It has already forced two of Saturday’s scheduled fixtures to be called off, including England’s showdown with France.
Should the Japan/Scotland game not be fulfilled, the match would be ruled a scoreless draw with both teams awarded two points – and so end any hopes of Gregor Townsend’s men progressing to the quarter-finals at the expense of the hosts.
Scottish Rugby Union chief executive Mark Dodson, however, is not about to give up without a fight, still calling for a move to an alternative venue or delay until after the storm passes.
“The last thing we want to do is get tied up in legal matters. There is now a legal opinion that supports our view there is flexibility on the scheduling,” Dodson said.
“What we really need to be talking about is a common-sense approach for what has been and promises to be a fantastic tournament.”
He added: “There’s something that just doesn’t feel right about not fulfilling the final game and Scotland, or anyone else in fact, exiting the competition.”
Ireland’s pitch battle
Ireland have been left less than impressed by the state of the pitch at the Hakatanomori Stadium ahead of Saturday’s decisive Pool A World Cup clash with Samoa.
While Typhoon Hagibis is not expected to impact on Fukuoka, governing body World Rugby moved to allay fears the game there would not be a level playing field for both sides.
Large sections of the pitch have been twice relayed, most recently after France beat the USA on October 2.
There is, though, not much Ireland can go but get on with it as Joe Schmidt’s men look to beat Samoa with a bonus-point to guarantee safe passage into the quarter-finals.
“We just try to back the players, trust that the pitch will do its job,” said Ireland scrum coach Greg Feek.
“We were trying to alleviate any concerns when we were out there, but then it is just a matter of wait and see.”