Rugby World Cup Pool A permutations: What do Ireland need to reach quarter-finals after defeat to Japan?
Pool A at the Rugby World Cup has been blown wide open after tournament hosts Japan beat Ireland in a huge upset.
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The 19-12 result at the Shizuoka Stadium ejects Ireland from the driving seat and leaves the race for a quarter-final place a three-horse event, with Scotland also in the running.
Japan are now top of the group with nine points from two matches. Ireland are behind on six points from two games.
So what do Ireland need to go through and to get top spot in the group?
Here are the key points:
1. Progression in Ireland's hands
The first point of note is that, if Ireland can manage to pick up nine points (one win and one bonus-point win) from their upcoming two matches against Russia and Samoa, it will be enough to secure safe-passage to the quarter-finals as Scotland will be unable to overhaul Schmidt's men. That's because, after being denied a losing bonus point by Ireland last week, Scotland can now only reach a maximum of 15 points. And even if the sides were to finish level on points, Ireland would have the advantage on head-to-head record.
2. Japan in the driving seat to top the group
Japan still have to face Samoa and Scotland. If they manage to take a bonus point win from Samoa next time out, they would only require only a tie with Scotland to draw level on points with Ireland and finish above Schmidt's side on head-to-head record. Of course, getting two positive results will be easier said than done but, after the nature of their win over Ireland, the Brave Blossoms will be in confident mood.
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3. So Ireland will be cheering on Scotland on October 13
Even if Ireland manage those two bonus-point wins, then, they'll likely be interested observers on Sunday, October 13 when Japan play Scotland at 11.45am BST.
That is, of course, because the runner-up in Pool A will likely be pitted against New Zealand in the quarters. Topping the group is a valuable prize, even if South Africa are only marginally less fearsome opponents in the last eight.
In order for that to happen, Ireland will require Scotland (or Samoa) to get a big result against the tournament hosts.
If Ireland manage only nine points from their two games, they would need Japan to win one and lose one of their two remaining games while picking up only one bonus point.
If Ireland can get maximum points, it allows Japan to pick up a win, a loss and two bonus points and still keeps Ireland ahead.
The race is on.
Belfast Telegraph Digital