Mack Hansen’s try and five points from Johnny Sexton helped settle a thrilling clash between international rugby’s top two teams at a sold-out Stade de France. Replacement fly-half Jack Crowley added a late penalty as Ireland stretched their winning run to 16 matches to take control of Pool B.
The Irish sit top of the standings on 14 points from their opening three matches and will now have two weeks to prepare for facing Scotland in the group finale on Saturday, October 7. The Springboks are second on 10 points from three matches and now have work to do against Tonga next week to avoid early elimination.
Scotland have only played one fixture thus far – an 18-3 defeat to South Africa two weeks ago – and will look to get their first points of the tournament on the board when they face Tonga in Nice on Sunday, a side who also lost their only game thus far, 59-16 against Ireland.
The Scots then face Romania on Saturday, September 30, and Gregor Townsend's side require two bonus points wins from those next two matches to ensure they go into their crunch game against the Irish on 10 points and in with the best possible chance of matching or bettering the Irish points total.
Failure to do so could mean that three victories would be insufficient to qualify for the next round – particularly if South Africa secure a bonus-point victory over Tonga in their final match on Sunday, October 1, as it would mean Scotland would be unable to finish above the Springboks as they could only, at best, match their 15-point tally and would finish below them based on head-to-head record.
Scotland’s most likely, and possibly only route out of the group involves taking 10 points from Tonga and Romania then defeating Ireland by eight points or more, or by scoring four or more tries to secure a bonus point win while ensuring Ireland fail to pick up two losing bonus points to avoid a glorious failure scenario whereby Scotland could take 15 points from a section containing the world’s top two ranked teams yet still fail to qualify for the knock-out stages.
Rugby World Cup Pool B table
1 Ireland – 14pts, +122, played 3
2 South Africa – 10pts, +86, played 3
3 Scotland – 0pts, -15, played 1
4 Tonga – 0pts, -43, played 1
5 Romania – 0pts, -150, played 2