Rugby World Cup: What Ireland's win over Russia means for Scotland and Pool A rivals Japan and Samoa

Sean Maitland in action against Samoa
Sean Maitland in action against Samoa
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Ireland's laboured victory over Russia takes Joe Schmidt's men to the summit of Pool A having played three games.

Although the Russians are already eliminated regardless of remaining matches, a fascinating battle for the top two berths in the group rages on.

Scotland's remaining matches are against Russia and Japan, while Ireland are still to play Samoa. Japan take on the Samoans on Saturday with the outcome giving Scotland some idea of what they need to do in their remaining matches.

As things stand, Ireland have played three of their four games and top the group with 11 points in total and three bonus points. Japan sit second having played two matches and secured one bonus point.

Scotland, also two matches into the tournament, have five points and one bonus point while Samoa have also accused five points and one bonus point from two games.

Russia are bottom with no points from their three games.

The most realistic scenario is that Ireland, having secured bonus-point wins over Scotland and Russia and a losing bonus-point against Japan, pick up a fourth bonus-point win over Samoa and likely top the group with 16 points.

After losing to Ireland in their opening match, Scotland's "minimum" was three bonus-point wins against Samoa, Russia and Japan.

The most Scotland can get to is 15 points, if they record three bonus-point wins.

But Japan could go into the final pool match against the Scots in Yokohama on 14 points - if they beat Samoa with four tries. In that case a simple win would do Scotland, unless Japan get a losing bonus point by finishing within seven, by virtue of head-to-head.

The Scots could still be eliminated if they secure a bonus-point win over Japan but the Brave Blossoms lose by seven points or fewer and score four tries during the match - as happened four years ago against Samoa.

So how could it all pan out?

Scotland could top the group if the following happens...

• Scotland record bonus-point wins over Russia and Japan

• Japan defeat Samoa

• Samoa defeat Ireland

Even if losing sides all picked up bonus points in their final matches, this could result in a final table of Scotland on 15, Japan on 14, Ireland on 12 and Samoa on 10.

However, if Ireland record a bonus-point win over Samoa and...

• Scotland record bonus-point wins over Russia and Japan

• Japan defeat Samoa

again, accounting for losing sides recording bonus points, this would result in a final table of Ireland on 16, Scotland on 15, Japan on 14 and Samoa on 6.

If Ireland beat Samoa but fail to win the bonus point and other results remain the same, they will still qualify as pool-winners ahead of Scotland by virtue of winning the head-to-head clash between the two teams.

If Ireland record a bonus-point win over Samoa and...

• Scotland beat Russia and Japan but don't collect two bonus points

• Japan defeat Samoa with a bonus point

accounting for losing sides recording bonus points, this would result in a final table of Ireland on 16, Japan on 14, Scotland on 13, and Samoa on 6.

If Ireland record a bonus-point win over Samoa and...

• Scotland beat Russia and Japan and obtain one bonus point

• Japan beat Samoa without a bonus point

this could produce a final table of Ireland on 16, Scotland on 14, Japan on 14 and Samoa on 6 - but in this case, Scotland would qualify having beaten Japan in their head-to-head match.

Our Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup coverage is brought to you in association with Castle Water and on Twitter @CastleWaterLtd