Thursday night throws up an intriguing encounter in the battle to qualify from Pool D, as Japan take on Samoa at Stadium de Toulouse.

With England leading the way in the pool, Japan, Samoa and Argentina are battling it out for the second qualifying spot to reach the quarter-finals of the 2023 World Cup.

This clash in Toulouse should be another cracking contest between Japan and Samoa, with discipline possibly being a deciding factor in what might well be a tightly-fought encounter.

Japan vs Samoa Prediction

  • Japan to win @ 7/5
  • Kotaro Matsushima to score anytime @ 5/4

Team news

Japan head coach Jamie Joseph has made two changes from the side that suffered a 34-12 defeat at the hands of England last time out.

Dylan Riley has been brought into the backline at outside centre, with Lomano Lemeki coming in at full-back.

Tomoki Osada and Semisi Masiresa are the two players to make way, with the latter picking up an injury which could rule him out for the remainder of the World Cup.

As for Samoa, head coach Seilala Mapusua has made four changes from the side that were beaten 19-10 by Argentina last time out.

Taleni Seu has been named in the second-row after featuring off the bench last week, while Jordan Taufua starts at number eight, replacing former New Zealand international Steven Luatua.

Alai D’Angelo Leuila will partner Tumua Manu in the centre positions, while Ed Fidow replaces Nigel Ah-Wong at flanker in the other change for the Pacific Islanders.

Japan to win @ 7/5

The two countries have met three times previously in World Cups, with Japan winning twice and Samoa victorious once.

There is little to choose between these sides when it comes to the world rankings, with Samoa in 12th and Japan 13th.

What Thursday’s game in Toulouse could boil down to is discipline.

Samoa have been shown three yellow cards in their first two games of the competition and they can’t afford to be down players against a Japan side that will attack from all over the field.

Samoa’s ill-discipline could cost them again and Japan at 7/5 to win might be the way to go in this one.

Kotaro Matsushima to score anytime @ 5/4

A prolific finisher and a key figure in the Japan backline, Kotaro Matsushima is certainly a player to look out for in the anytime tryscorer market.

Playing 48 times for his country, Matsushima has scored an impressive 21 tries for the Brave Blossoms, including six in 12 World Cup appearances.

With his blistering pace and ability to get on the end of kicks in behind, Matsushima looks to be good value at 5/4 to add to his try tally on Thursday.

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