• Rugby

Ireland Confirms Rugby World Cup Quarterfinal with All Blacks. England Avoid Upset, Wales Lose Star

AP
Ireland’s Tadhg Beirne waves to fans after the Rugby World Cup Pool B match against Scotland in Saint-Denis outside of Paris on Saturday.

PARIS (AP) — Top-ranked Ireland confirmed a Rugby World Cup quarterfinal after blitzing Scotland by six tries and 36-14 on Saturday.

Ireland topped Pool B ahead of defending champion South Africa, which it beat 13-8 in a titanic contest two weeks ago.

This one was never close as Ireland cruised to a 17th straight win — one win behind the tier one world record — and led 36-0 before Scotland’s two tries.

The Irish have never passed the quarters and they face three-time champion New Zealand when they return to Stade de France next Saturday.

“This is where we want to be now in a quarterfinal against the toughest opposition we could get,” Ireland captain Jonathan Sexton said.

France faces the Springboks here the following day.

Underdog Scotland had to win and deny the Irish a bonus point to advance at Ireland’s expense. Instead, coach Gregor Townsend’s side slumped meekly to a record-tying ninth straight defeat against Ireland.

After only 63 seconds, Ireland was ahead. By halftime, it was 26-0 with a bonus point secured and a quarterfinal confirmed.

AP
Ireland’s Garry Ringrose scores a try during the Rugby World Cup Pool B match against Scotland in Saint-Denis outside of Paris on Saturday.

ENGLAND 18, SAMOA 17

England gathered its scrambled senses from 17-8 down against Samoa and avoided one of the greatest Rugby World Cup upsets by edging a thrilling pool match in Lille.

Pool D was already won by quarterfinal-bound England which wanted to maintain momentum into the knockout stage next week. But a sloppy, second-rate performance was exploited by a fired-up Manu Samoa, who pulled out one more final trick to almost complete a shock win.

Wing Neria Foma’i was freed by fullback Duncan Paia’aua and was flying toward the tryline. He was eight meters from history when he was brought down from behind by England’s oldest back, replacement scrumhalf Danny Care. Foma’i’s pop-up pass was knocked on and the chance died for a Samoa which goes home with a 1-3 pool record.

Samoa scored two converted tries and had two other tries ruled out in a second quarter in which England was blown away. Somehow, Samoa led at halftime by only six points.

The second half belonged to England, but it struggled to turn its dominance into points. Two of its own tries were canceled and it finally produced a clever try off a scrum by Care beside the posts in the 73rd minute.

The easy conversion was nailed by Owen Farrell, who had a penalty kick ruled out because he exceeded the shot clock on the night he became England’s highest point-scorer.

Care’s fresher legs then spared some embarrassment for England, which will likely face Fiji in the quarterfinals next Sunday in Marseille.

AP
England’s Danny Care celebrates after scoring a try during the Rugby World Cup Pool D match against Samoa in Villeneuve-d’Ascq, outside Lille, France, on Saturday.

WALES 43, GEORGIA 19

A tournament-ending broken arm to Taulupe Faletau and Gareth Anscombe’s groin injury marred a box-ticking Wales win against Georgia in Nantes.

Faletau was the only forward to have started every Wales game in France at his third World Cup and came off clutching his arm. The No. 8’s exit is a major setback to Wales’ chances in the quarterfinals next week.

Anscombe was due to start at flyhalf against Georgia but tweaked his groin while kicking in the warmup and withdrew. It’s doubtful whether Anscombe will be fit in a week, and Wales’ usual starting 10 Dan Biggar was already carrying a damaged pectoral muscle from against Australia two weeks ago. When Anscombe was hurt, Sam Costelow played flyhalf and Biggar was pressed onto the bench, though he was the only reserve not to be used on Saturday.

The bonus-point win gave Wales 19 points out of a possible 20 in pool play and secured a quarterfinal next Saturday in Marseille against Argentina or Japan, who meet on Sunday.

Wales needed only a point to win Pool C and secured it with a fourth try in the 67th minute that ended a Georgia comeback from 24-7 down to 24-19.

“It was a bit messy and ugly but we got the job done,” coach Warren Gatland said.

AP
Wales’ Louis Rees-Zammit scores a try during the Rugby World Cup Pool C match against Georgia in Nantes, France, on Saturday.