Day 31 at the Rugby World Cup: England and Ireland set for crucial quarter-final clashes
The match action resumes in Japan with the knockout stage.
The Rugby World Cup will resume with the knockout phase in Japan this weekend, eight teams having regrouped following the pool stages and the fall-out from Typhoon Hagibis.
England face Australia in Oita on Saturday before Ireland then look to topple defending champions New Zealand in Tokyo.
Sunday sees Wales play Six Nations rivals France, while the hosts later aim to maintain their World Cup fairytale at the expense of South Africa.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at what lies ahead over another action-packed weekend in Japan.
England set for Wallabies showdown
The biggest moment of the Eddie Jones era arrives on the island of Kyushu on Saturday as England tackle Australia for a place in the World Cup semi-finals.
England may have a six-match winning run against the Wallabies, but they came through arguably a less testing pool stage and have not played since the match with France was cancelled because of Typhoon Hagibis.
Owen Farrell has been brought in at fly-half ahead of George Ford, while Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade will beef up the midfield.
Jones has called on his players to summon their samurai spirit – and Ben Youngs maintains there will be no quarter given at the Oita Stadium.
“You aren’t going to go out there and accept things not going your way. You are going to fight right until the end,” the Leicester scrum-half said.
“We have got some boys in this team that don’t know when they are beat.”
Can Ireland tame the champions again?
Ireland face holders New Zealand in Tokyo on Saturday aiming to end the All Blacks’ quest for an unprecedented third successive World Cup crown.
Despite coming into the tournament as the highest-ranked nation, the odds would appear to be stacked against Joe Schmidt’s side – up against it since a shock defeat by hosts Japan in Fukuroi and now without first-choice centre Bundee Aki through suspension.
New Zealand, though, could just be under-cooked following the cancellation of their final pool match against Italy.
However, veteran Sonny Bill Williams maintains there will be full focus. “We are under no illusions about the threat Ireland pose,” he said.
“But if we get our mental prep right and come with the right attitude, then we are going to be hard to stop.”
Schmidt’s men ended the group stages having conceded just two tries and enjoyed a better tackle success percentage than any other team.
Another strong defensive display and the Kiwi coach could mastermind another famous victory to follow on from their 16-9 triumph at the Aviva Stadium, which would have the streets of Dublin painted green once again.
Wales ready for their big moment
Sunday will see Wales look to progress when they take on France in Oita.
It will be a third successive World Cup quarter-final clash of Warren Gatland’s reign when they tackle Les Bleus.
Since suffering an agonising 9-8 loss in the 2011 World Cup semi-final, Wales have beaten France in seven of the last eight meetings.
Gatland’s time with Wales ends after the tournament and the New Zealander is determined to stick around for a bit longer in Japan.
“I think we’ve got a pretty good formula as a group about getting things right,” he said. “We are in a good place and we have prepared well.
“As coaches and players this is what you do all the hard work and training for, the big moments and to try and get to finals.”
Japan look to shock Springboks again
The Brave Blossoms swept into the last eight of the World Cup for the first time, riding the wave of an expectant nation.
Four years ago in Brighton, their 34-32 victory over two-time world champions South Africa was the greatest upset in the history of the competition.
The fans, though, who will pack the Tokyo Stadium on Sunday will be doing so more in expectation than travelling in hope of another memorable night at the expense of the Springboks.
Veteran Japan second-row Luke Thompson – part of the side in Brighton – maintains the players must continue to dream.
“Four years ago, we were able to sneak up on South Africa and now it’s a completely different situation,” he said. “No-one expects us to win again but we believe.”
World Cup quarter-finals
- England v Australia (October 19, Oita, 0815 BST, ITV)
- New Zealand v Ireland (October 19, Chofu, 1115 BST, ITV)
- Wales v France (October 20, Oita, 0815 BST, ITV)
- Japan v South Africa (October 20, Chofu, 1115 BST, ITV)