Rassie Erasmus was impressed with the way South Africa handled the pressure of being in "play-off mode" but said their performance in a 49-3 thumping of Italy was "not World Cup-winning standard".

The Springboks would have been facing a shock early exit from the tournament if they had lost to the Azzurri at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa on Friday, but are on the brink of the quarter-finals after cruising to a seven-try victory.

Cheslin Kolbe claimed a double on a miserable night for Italy, who played almost the entire second half a man down after Andrea Lovotti was sent off for a dangerous tip tackle on Duane Vermeulen.

Scrums were uncontested for much of the Pool B match due to Italy losing Simone Ferrari and his replacement at tighthead prop Marco Riccioni to injury as the Springboks went top with one Pool B contest against Canada to come.

Erasmus was pleased with the manner in which his side stepped up in a must-win encounter, yet says they must raise their game if they are to lift the Webb Ellis Cup.

"This was a crunch game for us, it looked easy but it was a fairly slippery game for us in the beginning. We were a bit worried about this game." said the South Africa head coach.

"I thought the red card obviously cost them because there were stages where they almost came back into the game. I thought when they got the red card it was quite easy for us after that."

He added: "I think the boys are now in play-off mode, our team understands we are under pressure and we have accepted that and are going to live by that for the next couple of weeks.

"I guess we'll get used to that and now we go on to the next challenge. Well done to our boys, I think they handled it well.

"I think we were clinical. I thought our discipline was terrible in the first half, we conceded six or seven penalties when we were defending, but otherwise the defence was great. I think overall not a bad performance, but not World Cup-winning standard yet."

Cheslin Kolbe claimed a try double as South Africa eased to a 49-3 bonus-point thumping of 14-man Italy to stand on the brink of the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.

Italy could have reached the last eight for the first time with a win on Friday, but they were well beaten at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa as the ruthless Springboks moved top of Pool B.

There were uncontested scrums for much a one-sided encounter after the Azzurri lost both tighthead props to injury and Conor O'Shea's side lost a third prop when Andrea Lovotti was sent off early in the second half.

South Africa were already in control when Lovotti was dismissed, following first-half tries from the excellent Kolbe and Bongi Mbonambi, and they ran away with it in the second half.

Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi, RG Snyman and Malcolm Marx crossed after the break, while Handre Pollard scored 14 points to become South Africa's all-time leading World Cup points-scorer.

Rassie Erasmus' men will surely be in the quarter-finals, with a final pool clash against Canada to come, whereas Italy must pull off an unlikely victory over New Zealand to progress for the first time.

Simone Ferrari limped off with a hamstring strain only two minutes in, and Kolbe added insult to injury by taking a superb cut-off pass from Willie le Roux and stepping in off the right flank before finishing clinically.

Pollard added the extras and was also on target with a penalty after Tommaso Allan got the Azzurri on the board from the tee.

Referee Wayne Barnes instructed there would be uncontested scrums for the rest of the match due to Marco Riccioni becoming the second Italy tight-head prop to be withdrawn, but South Africa were relentless as they took a firm grip on the contest.

In-form hooker Mbonambi dived over at the back of an unstoppable driving maul and Italy were all-but beaten when Lovotti and Nicola Quaglio inexplicably lifted Duane Vermeulen before ploughing him head-first into the turf, resulting in the former being given his marching orders.

The Rugby Championship holders showed no mercy, with lively wing Kolbe taking a cross-field kick from Pollard to grab his second try and Am intercepting Jake Polledri's pass to coast over.

Mapimpi ploughed through a gap to go under the posts and Kolbe forced an error from Matteo Minozzi to gift Snyman a score, before Marx finished from the back of a driving maul as Italy wilted.

 

Springboks make a statement

South Africa were clinical in attack and rock solid in defence, showing why they have been tipped as strong contenders to lift the Webb Ellis Cup.

They made a blistering start, driven on by their powerful forwards with strong runners and kept a high tempo throughout, with their classy backs also tormenting Italy as they sent out a statement.

 

Italy left to rue misfortune and indiscipline

Springboks head coach Erasmus declared scrum-time would be one of the biggest challenges South Africa would face, but that battle never materialised due to Ferrari departing and his replacement Riccioni following soon after.

Riccioni appeared to take a heavy bang to the ribs and after also undergoing a head injury assessment, he was unable to play any further part. Such was South Africa's power up front, it is unlikely that would have changed the outcome and Lovotti's rush of blood summed up Italy's evening.

 

What's next?

South Africa should make light work of defeating Canada in Kobe City on Tuesday, with Italy facing the huge task of locking horns with the All Blacks next Saturday.

England face their first Tier One opponents at the Rugby World Cup on Saturday and coach Eddie Jones is looking for his players to prove they can thrive against Argentina.

Jones' men secured routine bonus-point wins over Tonga and the United States in their first two matches of the tournament, but the Pumas will provide a sterner test in Tokyo.

England then round off the group phase against France and, should they progress to the quarter-finals, they will likely face either Australia or Wales before a potential semi-final against reigning champions New Zealand.

The big-match temperament of Jones' players came into question when they lost five successive Test matches in 2018 - they also lost to the Barbarians - while they lost both of their fixtures against Tier One opponents at the 2015 World Cup.

However, England's coach has taken measures to ensure his team is better equipped for such high-profile encounters, though he concedes the proof will be in the pudding.

"We have worked hard on it, we've worked hard on creating training situations to equip the players for it," Jones told a news conference.

"The players have worked hard off the field to handle situations well. Like anything, it’s a bit like a tea bag, isn't it? You don't know good it is until you put it in the hot water."

Argentina, who are on the brink of elimination having already lost to France, have cranked up the mind games ahead of the encounter, with hooker Agustin Creevy describing England as "boring" and stating the match will be "like a war".

Jones has warned his team to keep their heads in the face of those comments

"You've got to be smart about that thing. Rugby is a tough physical game, we've seen that already at the World Cup," Jones added.

"The passion and pride come out in the toughness within your play but then there is the emotional control. When you've got a lot of passion and pride it tends to multiply your strengths and multiply your weaknesses.

"We obviously want to multiply our strengths and attack their weaknesses."

Brodie Retallick has been named to make his return for the All Blacks when they face Namibia at the Rugby World Cup on Sunday.

Retallick, 28, was initially in doubt for the tournament due to a dislocated shoulder suffered against South Africa in July.

However, the lock will make his return against Namibia in the Pool B encounter in Chofu.

"It's great to have Brodie back. There's been some great work done by not only Brodie himself but also by the medical team," All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said in a statement on Friday.

"Obviously, Brodie is very excited to be in a position to pull the jersey back on."

Retallick's return is a huge boost for a New Zealand side who have won their opening two games of the tournament.

Jordie Barrett will start at fly-half for the All Blacks, who will be in action just four days after their 63-0 thrashing of Canada.

"In naming this team, we had to consider the short turnaround between the Canadian and Namibian games," Hansen said. "We've managed to ensure that we've got plenty of fresh players starting this match.

"We're very happy with where we are at after our first two games. However, the expectations going into the match on Sunday don't change. We need to keep improving. In all games it's important to nail the mental self-preparation, as it's not about who you're playing, it's about your own personal standards.

"Our preparation on-field this week is all about getting the balance right over the next two days. It's a case of not too much and not too little, from a physical point of view."

Samuel Whitelock will captain the All Blacks for a sixth time.

 

New Zealand: Ben Smith, Sevu Reece, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown, George Bridge, Jordie Barrett, Aaron Smith; Joe Moody, Codie Taylor, Nepo Laulala, Brodie Retallick, Samuel Whitelock, Shannon Frizell, Sam Cane, Ardie Savea.
Replacements: Dane Coles, Ofa Tuungafasi, Angus Ta'avao, Patrick Tuipulotu, Matt Todd, Brad Weber, TJ Perenara, Rieko Ioane.

Japan have recalled Michael Leitch to their starting XV for Saturday's clash with Samoa, with Jamie Joseph urging the Brave Blossoms to capitalise on their stunning Rugby World Cup win over Ireland.

The tournament hosts have an outstanding opportunity to reach the quarter-finals for the first time but cannot afford any let-up going into their final two Pool A matches against Samoa and Scotland.

Leitch surprisingly began the Ireland game last Saturday on the replacements' bench, but his introduction before half-time fortified Japan and Joseph has reinstated the former captain in the back row.

Joseph has also promoted hooker Atsushi Sakate and lock Wimpie van der Walt from bench duty, while Leitch's fellow flanker Pieter Labuschagne skippers Japan again.

Coach Joseph is aiming to surpass the achievement of Eddie Jones' 2015 team who won three out of four matches in the pool stage and fell agonisingly short of a last-eight place, missing out on points difference to Scotland and South Africa.

Jones' side beat Samoa 26-5 in Milton Keynes four years ago, and Joseph, who is proving a worthy successor to the man who now leads England, believes Japan are an increasingly strong unit.

Joseph said: "I think there's a number of things we've been working on. The coaches have a lot of input around creating leaders and guys who, in moments like [the Ireland match], can actually be confident enough to make decisions, execute skills, change the plan and be resilient, whatever it takes to get the result. That's not a one-week project. That's had a big part to it.

"We've been able to improve our squad over the last year with Pieter [Labuschagne] coming into our team, being eligible to play for Japan, and that's contributed a different level of leadership for us and support for players like Michael [Leitch] who have been often isolated as the only leader.

"I think a lot of it is how we build the team culture around... I think the word is 'equality': getting everybody to contribute."

But Leitch knows the onus is mainly on him to deliver results, adding: "I'm the boss and the buck stops with me and the players understand that."

Japan's 19-12 win over Ireland, the world's top-ranked team, means they start as strong favourites to see off a Samoa side who were thumped 34-0 by Scotland last time out.

Samoa coach Steve Jackson said his team were "hurting, and so they should" after that heavy loss.

Wing Ed Fidow was sent off against the Scots and Samoa were initially expecting he would be banned after giving away two penalty tries; however, a World Rugby disciplinary panel ruled the red card was sufficient punishment, and he will start against Japan.

Jackson has seen injury and suspension worries test the depth of his squad, and he has made six changes for the Japan game as the islanders eye an improved performance.

"There's no point in dwelling on what we don't have. We've got to move forward with what we've got and pick this group up," Jackson said in the wake of the mauling by the Scots.

"We need to get back on the horse and prepare well for Japan, and if we get the result against Japan we're right back in it.

"I suppose for us, moving into Saturday, there's things we're going to do against Japan that we've trained for."

He said Samoa must "mentally freshen up" and show "clarity in our game" going into the encounter in Toyota City.


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Japan - Yu Tamura

Fly-half Tamura has arguably not been at his best so far in this tournament, despite kicking Japan to victory over Ireland last time out. He spoke of the intense pressure on his shoulders before the tournament began, and that is not about to shift, but Tamura is talking a sensible game now too, telling Japan to forget about their famous win and focus on Samoa. He will again have a huge role to play.

Samoa - Ed Fidow

Fidow would have expected to be banned for this game; coach Jackson certainly thought he would be without the wing. But the Worcester-bound 26-year-old escaped a suspension for his red card against the Scots and will want to make the most of his reprieve. His two tries in the victory over Russia showed he has got game, and Japan will be wary of his threat.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Japan have won their last two matches against Samoa, as many as they had won in all of their previous 13 meetings (L11).
- Japan have now won their last four Rugby World Cup games on the bounce; no other non-tier one team have ever won more than two in succession.
- Tusi Pisi (57pts) requires a tally of just six points to eclipse Silao Leaegailesolo (62pts) as the all-time top point-scorer for Samoa at the Rugby World Cup.
- Kazuki Himeno has made the most carries (33) and metres (169) of any player in the Japan squad at this Rugby World Cup. He has also yet to miss a tackle (24/24).

James Slipper says Australia are treating the coming days as "Grand Final week" as they prepare to do battle with Uruguay at the Rugby World Cup.

A rousing fightback was unable to prevent the Wallabies from suffering a 29-25 defeat to Wales last Sunday.

Australia are now third with two Pool D matches to play and prop Slipper knows they have to come out firing from the start when they take on Uruguay at Oita Stadium on Saturday.

"It's obviously disappointing with the result we had [against Wales], but essentially now it's Grand Final week for us," said Slipper.

"Both teams have to win. We're preparing like that every game. So, for us, it's just about getting back into work, training hard, making sure we come out and win the game."

Jordan Petaia will make history by becoming the youngest Australia player to feature in a World Cup match at the age of 19 after Michael Cheika opted to make 12 changes to his starting line-up.

Matt Toomua also comes into the side for his 50th Test cap after impressing off the bench against the Six Nations champions and the centre is backing teenage wing Petaia to show what the hype is about.

"More so than any other young player, he is just as competent on both sides of the ball: attack and defence. It's not often you say that about young guys. They might have a wicked sidestep or something but Jordy likes getting in the rough and tumble stuff, which is brilliant," said Toomua.

Esteban Meneses has made nine alterations to the Uruguay line-up following a heavy loss to Georgia, with centre Andres Vilaseca named captain as Juan Manuel Gaminara drops to the bench.

Facundo Gattas was given a three-match ban for a dangerous tackle in the 33-7 defeat to Georgia and will learn whether he has been successful with an appeal on Friday.
 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Australia - Christian Lealiifano

Lealiifano replaces Bernard Foley at fly-half, having been surprisingly dropped for the Wales game. The playmaker can seize his chance to show he should keep the number 10 jersey by getting the Wallabies ticking.

Uruguay - Rodrigo Silva

Silva switches from the left wing to full-back and Uruguay will need him to make that a seamless transition as Australia look to pile on the pressure from the start.
 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Australia and Uruguay's only previous Test meeting came at the last World Cup, with the Wallabies dishing out a 65-3 drubbing. 
- Uruguay's 30-27 victory over Fiji in their opening match of the competition was the first time they had defeated a team from Oceania at a World Cup.
- The Wallabies have trailed at half-time in each of their first two pool matches. Prior to this tournament, they had been behind at the break in only one World Cup pool game - against South Africa in 1995.
- Toomua's 61 metres gained, five defenders beaten and two offloads against Wales were more than he had achieved in any of his previous seven World Cup matches.

Eddie Jones believes England's scrum can be a "real weapon" in their Rugby World Cup clash with Argentina in Tokyo on Saturday.

England sit top of Pool C after two bonus-point victories from as many outings, but the meeting with Los Pumas represents their toughest challenge so far.

Argentina need a victory to boost their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals after slipping to a 23-21 loss to France in their opening match in Japan.

However, Mario Ledesma has decided to leave out fly-half Nicolas Sanchez and keep captain Agustin Creevy – one cap away from breaking Argentina's appearance record – among the replacements.

Pablo Matera will captain the team as Julian Montoya retains his place at hooker after scoring a first-half hat-trick in the 28-12 triumph over Tonga last time out, and Jones thinks Los Pumas may struggle to cope with England's strength in the pack.

"[The scrum] is part of the Argentinian rugby culture so sometimes, like anything in life, you can have dormant periods. But particularly when it's part of your rugby, it's quite easy to reignite and [Ledesma has] done that well," said Jones.

"It's going to be a massive test on Saturday. They haven't scrummed against us yet and we believe our scrum can be a real weapon for us - so hold on to your seats.

"They're an interesting team. A strong team. We know Argentina are at their best at World Cups. Creevy spoke about a few things this week. One of which was how tight they are as a team. And they're a pretty good team if they can get Creevy to come off the bench."

England's front-row options have been boosted by Mako Vunipola's return from a hamstring injury, though the Saracens prop was only named on the bench.

While Ledesma's selection has raised questions, the Argentina coach has no doubt he has picked the right players for a match he made no effort to downplay the importance of.

"In any team, you play because of what you contribute. Thinking about the team and nothing more than the team, we believe these are the best [players] to beat England," said Ledesma.

"We talked to [Sanchez] before we announced the team and it was very hard, but we all know the most important thing is the team and that everyone should contribute.

"It is one of the most important games in the history of this team, but in particular for this group. Los Pumas have had many of these battles and the boys have the opportunity to write their own story."
 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

England – Manu Tuilagi

The Leicester Tigers centre has struggled with injuries but made his mark in the opening game against Tonga with a pair of tries. He will be keen to add more after sitting out the victory over the United States.

Argentina – Benjamin Urdapilleta

With Sanchez left out of the matchday squad entirely, the pressure to perform at fly-half falls to Urdapilleta. He was pivotal to Castres' Top 14 success in 2018 and, with the inexperienced Lucas Mensa the next option on the bench, he must rise to the occasion.


KEY OPTA FACTS

- England have won each of their past nine Tests against Argentina, with their most recent defeat against Los Pumas coming in Salta in June 2009 while the British and Irish Lions were touring South Africa.
- Argentina's win against Tonga in their previous match ended a run of 10 consecutive defeats in Tests, their worst losing run.
- Creevy is set to make his 88th appearance for Argentina, overtaking Felipe Contepomi (87) as his country's most-capped player.
- England have scored 21 tries and conceded just one in their past three World Cup matches, scoring four or more tries in three consecutive games for the first time in the competition.
- Ben Youngs will move third on the list of all-time Test appearances for England with his 92nd cap. Dan Cole will join him if he enters the game as a replacement.

Joe Schmidt allayed concerns over Johnny Sexton's fitness after the stand-in captain was withdrawn at half-time in Ireland's 35-0 Rugby World Cup win over Russia.

Sexton returned to lead his country for the first time on Thursday after missing a shock defeat to hosts Japan, having been withdrawn as a precaution in the previous match against Scotland following treatment on his thigh.

The World Rugby Player of the Year was replaced again, though, as Jack Carty, who stepped in against Japan, was introduced at the break in Kobe.

Schmidt revealed Sexton will be fit for Ireland's final Pool A encounter with Samoa a week on Saturday along with fellow fly-half Joey Carbery, who played no part against Russia due to an ankle problem.

"Johnny's all good and will be fine for Samoa, and Joey is good," said the Ireland head coach.

"I think Joey would have been okay to play, but Conor Murray was very keen to play. So Joey is hopefully fine."

Schmidt says Ireland must wait to discover the extent of a rib injury sustained by Jordi Murphy, who was taken off in the first half after being called up to replace Jack Conan this week.

The New Zealander added: "Jordi just got squeezed in the ribs, so he may have popped a rib there. We're just going to get him checked out. So we'll see what that comes back like.

"And Rob Kearney, I think he's okay. Again, we were going to give him 50 or 60, so making the change when we did, he just felt a little bit tight in the groin. We just felt it was about time to take him off anyway."

Ireland were a long way from their best, making too many handling errors, but Schmidt took the positives after tries from Rob Kearney, Peter O'Mahony, Rhys Ruddock, Andrew Conway and Garry Ringrose put them top of the pool.

"I don't think we lost our way against Russia - we just didn't convert some chances," said Schmidt. "I think there were more things that pleased me than disappointed me definitely. We started well again, with two early tries.

"Then we made a bit of hard work of it. One of the plans we had was to try to get a few scores early if we could. Because the longer the game goes here the more moisture there is on the air, on the ground and on the ball, so we knew it would get more difficult as time went on.

"And that was probably a little bit of consternation in that third quarter. Then [Ireland] probably finish with the best try of the night at the end, just to get that 35-point differential and keep a clean sheet."

Ireland moved top of Rugby World Cup Pool A but made hard work of securing a 35-0 bonus-point win over Russia at Kobe Misaki Stadium.

Smarting from a stunning defeat to Japan, Ireland responded by claiming maximum points in their penultimate pool match courtesy of tries from Rob Kearney, Peter O'Mahony, Rhys Ruddock, Andrew Conway and Garry Ringrose.

A much-changed Ireland side were disjointed for much of a scrappy encounter and stand-in captain Johnny Sexton did not appear for the second half, seemingly as a precaution after missing out on the loss to the hosts with a thigh injury.

Jordi Murphy sustained what appeared to be a rib injury in the first half, but Ireland got the job done against a battling Russia side who are without a point from their three matches.

Kearney picked a great line to burst through a huge gap in the second minute to score the earliest World Cup try for Ireland - and the quickest of the tournament.

O'Mahony got on the end of a Sexton kick to dot down for his first try international try in six years and Russia lost Kirill Golosnitskiy to a knee injury after he clattered into the post attempting to prevent the flanker from scoring.

Ireland suffered a blow when Murphy sustained what appeared to be a rib injury, but Ruddock was driven over with Bogdan Fedotko in the sin bin and Sexton converted for a third time to make it 21-0 at the break.

Joe Schmidt's men were far from their clinical best as the handling errors mounted and there was no Sexton when they ran out for the second half as Jack Carty came on for the stand-in skipper.

Andrei Ostrikov was yellow-carded for a dangerous clearout in a scrappy start to the second half before Ramil Gaisin missed a shot at goal to get Russia on the board.

Ireland lacked fluency but Keith Earls fed Conway to run away for the bonus-point try after Carty's kick over the top. 

With Russia flagging after giving a good account of themselves, Ireland produced a move of the quality they had been lacking for a fifth try in the closing stages, Ringrose racing clear for a score and Carty adding the extras for a second time after great work from Jordan Larmour and Earls.

Ringrose was denied a brace when he was adjudged to have knocked on and although Ireland won comfortably, they have plenty to work on.

 

Back-row woes for Ireland, Sexton absence felt 

Murphy was chomping at the bit to make his mark after being called up this week when Jack Conan was ruled out for the rest of the tournament with a broken foot, but was withdrawn after only 27 minutes due to damage done in a collision.

The absence of Sexton for the second half was also felt by Ireland, but it was not clear if he was withdrawn for tactical reasons or an injury setback.

Rampaging Ruddock makes his mark

Ruddock was named man of the match after an eye-catching display, making 48 metres and not missing any of his 14 tackles, as well as scoring a try.

Key Opta Facts:

- Rob Kearney has now crossed for a try in five of his last six appearances at the Rugby World Cup for Ireland, as well as crossing for a try in both of his games against Russia (2011, 2019).
- This was Ireland's 38th Rugby World Cup game and the first time they have prevented the opposition from scoring; it was the first time Russia have failed to score a point in a RWC match.
- Russia remain on the hunt for their maiden Rugby World Cup victory (L7); only Namibia (21) have played more Rugby World Cup games and not registered a victory.
- Andrey Ostrikov became the fifth substitute at this Rugby World Cup to be shown a yellow card, just six subs in 2015 were shown a yellow.

What's next?

Ireland have nine days before taking on Samoa in their last pool match, while Russia's final match of the tournament is against Scotland next Wednesday.

Jefferson Poirot will captain a France side that includes 11 changes for the Rugby World Cup encounter with Tonga on Sunday.

Jacques Brunel has selected a third different half-back pairing in as many matches in the tournament, with Baptiste Serin in at scrum-half and Romain Ntamack getting the nod at fly-half.

Prop Poirot leads Les Bleus after coming off the bench to score in an unconvincing bonus-point success over the United States on Wednesday.

Camille Chat, Paul Gabrillagues, Sofiane Guitoune and Alivereti Raka are the only players to retain their starting berths for the encounter at Kumamoto Stadium.

Brunel will name his replacements on Friday for a match France will be expected to take maximum points from ahead of a huge Pool C showdown with leaders England.

France are a point adrift of England, who face Argentina on Saturday, with two wins out of two.

 

France: Maxime Medard, Damian Penaud, Virimi Vakatawa, Sofiane Guitoune, Alivereti Raka, Romain Ntamack, Baptiste Serin; Jefferson Poirot (captain), Camille Chat, Rabah Slimani, Paul Gabrillagues, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Wenceslas Lauret, Charles Ollivon, Gregory Alldritt.

 

Nicolas Sanchez has been dropped for Argentina's Rugby World Cup showdown with England on Saturday, while former captain Agustin Creevy is only on the bench.

Fly-half Sanchez, the leading points-scorer at the 2015 World Cup, was surprisingly overlooked by Mario Ledesma for a huge encounter against the Pool C leaders at Tokyo Stadium.

Benjamin Urdapilleta keeps his place at number 10, while hooker Julian Montoya - on a high after scoring a hat-trick against Tonga - retains his spot at the expense of Creevy, who will be hoping to earn a Pumas-record 88th cap off the bench.

Javier Ortega Desio comes back into the side at number eight for what Creevy says will be a "war".

Argentina got up and running with a win over Tonga after making a losing start against France and sit third in Pool C behind England and Les Bleus.

 

Argentina: Emiliano Boffelli, Matias Moroni, Matias Orlando, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Santiago Carreras, Benjamin Urdapilleta, Tomas Cubelli; Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Julian Montoya, Juan Figallo, Guido Petti Pagadizabal, Tomas Lavanini, Pablo Matera (captain), Marcos Kremer, Javier Ortega Desio.

Replacements: Agustin Creevy, Mayco Vivas, Santiago Medrano, Matias Alemanno, Tomas Lezana, Felipe Ezcurra, Lucas Mensa, Bautista Delguy.

Mako Vunipola and Jack Nowell are set to make their first appearances at the Rugby World Cup after being named among the England replacements to face Argentina on Saturday.

Prop Vunipola and wing Nowell have recovered from hamstring and ankle injuries respectively to take their place in the matchday squad for the clash with the Pumas at Tokyo Stadium.

Owen Farrell returns to captain the side at inside centre, with Manu Tuilagi back at outside centre and fly-half George Ford keeping his spot after impressive showings against Tonga and the United States.

Eddie Jones makes just one alteration to the starting line-up for England's opening match of the tournament versus Tonga, with lock George Kruis preferred to Courtney Lawes.

Ben Youngs will become his country's third most capped player when he makes a 92nd appearance for England, who are a point clear of France at the top of Pool C.

Jones said: "We are in Tokyo for the first time and the players are excited to be here and have had a good week's preparation so far. We know Argentina are a very good team and our players will be ready for the game.  

"Argentina is a completely different team from others we have played so far in the pool stages and are always about the physical contest.

"This week it's about getting our game right, our set-piece in a good place and making sure defensively we are organised and ready to find ways to score points against them."

 

England team: Elliot Daly, Anthony Watson, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell, Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Joe Marler, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Mako Vunipola, Dan Cole, Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam, Willi Heinz, Henry Slade, Jack Nowell.

Fiji produced a mesmerising second-half display to blitz Georgia 45-10 and end their losing start at the Rugby World Cup.

Led by Semi Radradra's unstoppable performance, Fiji ran in seven tries and scored 38 points in the second half to clinch a bonus-point victory in the Pool D clash on Thursday.

After back-to-back losses to open the showpiece tournament, Fiji boosted their chances of finishing third in the group, which guarantees qualification for the 2023 World Cup.

Georgia had the first chance for points, and it was a moment of confusion after Soso Matiashvili's penalty conversion was initially given the all-clear.

The attempt appeared to have missed the sticks, with one flag going up and other staying down. After a couple of minutes, the penalty was chalked off the scoreboard.

Fiji adapted to the wet conditions better in Higashiosaka and Waisea Nayacalevu sprinted clear to give the Flying Fijians a 20th-minute lead.

Georgia switched off as a pass from Ben Volavola appeared to be bouncing out of play, but it stayed in and Radradra fed Nayacalevu, who powered over as the former added the extras.

After Georgia travelled almost the entire length of the field, Fiji fell just inches short of a try but a penalty during that phase allowed Matiashvili to reduce Fiji's lead prior to half-time.

Fiji proved too quick and too powerful five minutes into the second half, though, as Frank Lomani benefited from some stunning build-up play to eventually ground the ball, though Volavola was unsuccessful with the conversion.

A third try followed five minutes later – Georgia ripped to shreds after Radradra paved the way for Josua Tuisova to make it 17-3 from out wide as Volavola missed again.

Back-to-back misses from Volavola kept Georgia alive and they reduced the deficit three minutes via Mamuka Gorgodze, but their hopes were dashed when Radradra's try and Volavola's extras restored Fiji's 14-point buffer.

It was party time from that point as quick-fire tries from Semi Kunatani and Apisalome Ratuniyarawa, and a second for Radradra put the helpless Georgia side to the sword during the closing stages.

 

Radradra dazzles in the rain

Radradra put on a show as he became the first player at this year's World Cup to make three try assists in the same game – the joint-most by a Fiji player at the showpiece tournament. He also scored two tries of his own to cap a memorable display.

Fiji stung into response

Fiji were left reeling after their shock loss to Uruguay, who won a World Cup match for the first time in 16 years. But Fiji restored some pride by blitzing Georgia.

What's next?

Both teams will conclude their campaigns with huge tests, as Fiji face Wales in Oita on October 9 and Georgia take on Australia in Fukuroi two days later.

Rassie Erasmus says South Africa are suffering from "a few butterflies" as they prepare for a "do-or-die" Rugby World Cup showdown with Italy at Shizuoka Stadium on Friday.

The Springboks are third in Pool B, behind leaders Italy and New Zealand after losing to the All Blacks in their first match of the tournament.

South Africa responded to their loss to the defending champions by thumping Namibia 57-3 and will be expected to get the better of an Azzurri side who have taken maximum points from their two matches.

Yet Italy pulled off a shock when the two nations locked horns three years ago, and although Rugby Championship winners South Africa are a different proposition now, head coach Erasmus says they are nervous given there is so much at stake.

"We've been preparing for 20 or 21 Test matches and it is do-or-die now," said Erasmus, who called Damian Willemse into the squad after Jesse Kriel was ruled out due to a hamstring injury.

"The players feel it. I can't sit here and tell you that we don't have a few butterflies, because we've lost to Italy in the last three years.

"They [Italy] will be really up for this game because they won't believe they can beat the All Blacks, but they will believe they can beat the Springboks."

Tendai Mtawarira, Bongi Mbonambi and Lood de Jager will make up a powerful South Africa pack and Erasmus is expecting a fierce battle between the forwards.

"The challenge that we will get is definitely up front. We do think they have a great backline as well, but we think the physical challenge up front will be scrum-time, mauling."

Sergio Parisse returns to the Italy side and will become the second-most capped player in Test history behind New Zealand great Richie McCaw, taking his astonishing tally to 142.

Italy coach Conor O'Shea said: "The pressure is firmly on South Africa; they are expected to win the World Cup.

"If you don't front up physically against them, you've already lost the match. You must take them on in the forwards. We must treat it like the last match we'll ever play."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

South Africa - Faf de Klerk

If De Klerk can get quick ball, the livewire scrum-half can control the game and get South Africa ticking to put the squeeze on Italy.

Italy - Sergio Parisse

Skipper Parisse will have a big part to play with his leadership and vast experience. The back-row's battle with Duane Vermeulen should make for great viewing.


KEY OPTA FACTS

- South Africa have won 13 of their 14 previous meetings with Italy, the wins coming by an average margin of 37 points per game.

- Italy are on a three-game winning World Cup run - their best streak at the tournament.

- The Azzurri beat a team-record 27 defenders in their opening game against Namibia and bettered that with a tally of 43 versus Canada.

- Handre Pollard (101) needs a haul of just 11 points to eclipse Percy Montgomery as the highest World Cup points-scorer for the Springboks.

Teenager Jordan Petaia will benefit from playing alongside Dane Haylett-Petty and Kurtley Beale when he makes his Australia debut at the Rugby World Cup, according to Michael Cheika.

Petaia is set to make start on Saturday in the Wallabies' Pool D clash with minnows Uruguay, for which Cheika has made 12 changes to his starting XV.

The Reds back will become the youngest Australian to play at a World Cup, with the 19-year-old's wait for his debut extended by hamstring injuries that kept him out of games with Italy and Samoa in November and September respectively.

He missed almost all of the 2019 Super Rugby season due to a foot problem, but the clash in Oita will see Petaia become the first Australian to make his international bow at a World Cup since Berrick Barnes in 2007.

"I think he has got a lot of talent, Jordan, and we will see it for the first time," Australia coach Cheika said at a media conference. "This is the first game ever I will have been able to be involved with him in a game.

"He is just starting out, so we will let him get into the flow and see how he feels. He has a couple of very experienced campaigners next to him in Dane and Kurtley so he will have plenty of experience around him to talk him through.

"But he is a good young man and a good young player and I am sure he will love it running out there at the weekend."

Fly-half Bernard Foley is not included in the squad to face Uruguay having received criticism for an error-strewn performance in the Wallabies' defeat to Wales last time out.

"Bernard - I think he struggled a little bit on the weekend. No doubt about that," Cheika said.

"Christian [Lealiifano], he found his feet pretty well in the Test matches this year. Matt To'omua has played pretty well there as well, finishing for us.

"So, Bernard is working hard on getting himself back into the team. He has been training hard. He did some good things at the weekend, some things he would want to improve on."

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