Day three at the Rugby World Cup: England enter fray while Ireland face Scotland
England start their campaign against Tonga.
After wins for New Zealand and Australia on Saturday, England, Ireland and Scotland enter the fray at the Rugby World Cup on Sunday.
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Here, the PA news agency takes a look at what to expect from day three.
England look to improve World Cup displays
England have endured disappointment in each of the last two World Cups – the first host nation to be eliminated at the group stage last time around, four years on from the controversies of New Zealand – and are desperate for something to celebrate this time around.
Reaching the last four is the minimum target for Eddie Jones’ men, who should be able to brush aside rank outsiders Tonga in Sapporo if that is a realistic goal. The game will be played indoors at the Sapporo Dome, scene of David Beckham’s penalty against Argentina at the 2002 football World Cup.
It will also be a special day for number eight Billy Vunipola, whose father and uncle played for Tonga the last time England faced them in a World Cup, 20 years ago.
Number one Ireland must live up to billing
Like England, Ireland go into the World Cup eyeing a semi-final place – again the bare minimum target for a team ranked number one in the world. Their chances of achieving it improve considerably if they start well. If they can beat Scotland on Sunday and hosts Japan next week, their path to at least the quarter-finals opens up nicely. Equally, defeat would put them straight on the back foot.
Asked if it was his team’s time to peak, head coach Joe Schmidt said: “You’ve just got to hope so. I can’t guarantee anything, but in 48 hours’ time we’ll have a better idea.”
Could the wind blow Scotland’s way
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) September 20, 2019
Scotland know they are the outsiders against the Irish but are in no mood to make life easy. Gregor Townsend has named an experienced line-up boasting 630 caps between them in order to make life difficult.
They may need more than experience to help them, of course, but the weather could be ready to play a role in the game. Typhoon Tapah, a powerful weather system building over the East China Sea, is due to strike the south west of Japan this weekend and it could well have a significant impact at the International Stadium in Tokyo.
“We’re in the same boat as everybody in that we’re told there is a storm sitting off Japan somewhere but whether it comes in or not, (we’re not sure),” said Greig Laidlaw.
All Blacks show resolve to see off South Africa
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) September 21, 2019
New Zealand began the defence of their World Cup crown with a gutsy victory over a South Africa side against whom they have struggled of late. There has been talk in the build up to the tournament that the All Blacks – who are bidding for a third successive World Cup win – are more vulnerable this time around.
A strong start by the Springboks added weight to that theory, but New Zealand produced two scintillating tries to turn the match their way, and defended with resilience to seal the win.
Australia also got their campaign off to a win but had to do it the hard way, battling back to beat Fiji, as did France who held off a late surge from Argentina.
Stat of the day
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) September 21, 2019
Australian produced their biggest comeback in World Cup history, overcoming a nine-point deficit to beat Fiji 39-21.