The second round of pool matches continues with the hosts returning to action but do our Japan vs Ireland predictions foresee a happy homecoming? It’s likelier that Irish eyes will be smiling.
Japan laboured to their 30 – 10 win over Russia in the opening game, freely admitted that the burden of being host nation sat heavily on their shoulders.
Ireland, however, comprehensively outplayed Scotland and were slightly disappointed to have won by only 27 – 3.
Ireland are among the favourites to win the Rugby World Cup and victory here will go a long way to ensuring their place in the competition’s knockout phase.
Check out our 2019 Rugby World Cup Predictions, Betting Tips and Preview to see whether we think Johnny Sexton will be smiling come November!
Japan vs Ireland Predictions
Japan enter the Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa in Fukuroi determined to display the warrior spirit of their forebears and deliver a shock to Ireland’s system.
The Brave Blossom put 30 on the board against Russia last time out but were “spun” during the game according to back row Kazuki Himeno.
The number eight made his dissatisfaction with the performance clear: “It’s important we get back to our basics, what we are good at.”
Lomano Lemeki thinks injury concerns over Johnny Sexton boost the hosts’ chances of a win. More than that, he boldly predicted it would finish 33 – 26.
Japan’s weakness under the pressure created by the kicking game is readily solved, he believes: “Just catch the ball! Catch the high ball first of all, and if we catch it we can attack”, before adding “As long as we catch the ball, it will be no problem.”
The optimism is misplaced. Japan hasn’t beaten a Tier 1 nation since their 34 – 17 win over Italy in Oita.
That ended a three-year wait from the sensational victory over South Africa in Brighton; it’s a stretch to think they will suddenly improve at this level.
To put some recent perspective on their situation, South Africa beat Japan 41 – 7 last month with England (35 pts) and the All Blacks (69) scoring freely during their 2018 wins.
Quite simply, the Japanese record of four wins from five this year masks the absence of top-tier opposition from their fixture list.
Ireland, on the other hand, are flying with seven wins from 10 this year. The two defeats may haunt them during the competitions latter stages but not for this one.
Against Scotland, the Irish were relentless, overwhelming their admittedly poor opponents.
Crucial to the victory was the well-drilled and disciplined pack. Scotland were stifled and given few opportunities to relieve the pressure from penalties.
Japan need to be not only on top of their game to cope with this but well beyond their best. Home advantage is their best weapon.
At home this year, bar the South Africa game, they are 30+ each time but it is tough to see anything but a heavy defeat; Japan conceded 20+ in three of their five games against lesser teams.
Whichever we look at the game, the only conclusion we can come to in our Japan vs Ireland predictions is for an away win.
Japan vs Ireland Head to Head
Ireland meet Japan for the eighth in Fukuroi with seven wins in the previous seven games. The two previous World Cup clashes came in 1991 and 1995 with the Irish winning 32 – 16 and 50 – 28 respectively.
Thus far, Ireland recorded 336 points in this series of games with Japan managing 118 in reply.
The last four matches all took place in Japan with Ireland’s lowest points total coming in 2017’s 35 – 13 win.
Japan Team News
Reports suggest Japan captain Michael Leitch is set to be rested for this match with Amanaki Mafi stepping in. Lappies Labuschagne will lead the side in Leitch’s absence.
Forwards (18): Michael Leitch (c), Keita Inagaki, Yusuke Kizu, Jiwon Koo, Isileli Nakajima. Asaeli Valu, Takuya Kitade, Atsushi Sakate, Shota Horie, Luke Thompson. Wimpie van der Walt, Uwe Helu, James Moore, Hendrik Tui, Yoshitaka Tokunaga. Pieter Labuschagne, Kazuki Himeno, Amanaki Mafi.
Backs (13): Kaito Shigeno, Fumiaki Tanaka, Yutaka Nagare, Yu Tamura. Rikiya Matsuda, Kenki Fukuoka, Ataata Moeakiola, Lomano Lemeki. William Tupou, Ryoto Nakamura, Timothy Lafaele, Kotaro Matsushima, Ryohei Yamanaka.
Ireland Team News
The big question is whether Johnny Sexton will be fit for selection. A minor thigh strain may see the fly-half rested for this game.
Robbie Henshaw is expected to recover from his hamstring strain but is unlikely to face Japan with the Irish cautious over using the Leinster centre.
Keith Earls, Rob Kearney and Joey Carbery are all passed fit.
Forwards (18): Sean Cronin, Niall Scannell, Rory Best, Tadhg Beirne, Iain Henderson, Jean Kleyn, James Ryan, Tadhg Furlong, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, John Ryan, Cian Healy, Jack Conan, Peter O’Mahony, Rhys Ruddock, CJ Stander, Jacob Stockdale, Josh Van Der Flier
Luke McGrath, Conor Murray, Andrew Conway, Keith Earls, Jordan Larmour, Bundee Aki, Chris Farrell, Robbie Henshaw, Garry Ringrose, Joey Carbery, Jack Carty, Johnny Sexton, Rob Kearney
Japan vs Ireland Betting Tips
Novibet match odds unsurprisingly have Ireland as favourites for this match at 7/100. It’s hard to describe Japan’s chances of winning (15/2) as anything but distant.
Even the handicap markets are in convergence with our Japan vs Ireland predictions, with Japan +20.5 and Ireland -20.5 set at 17/20.
And what odds do Novibet give for Lomano Lemeki’s prediction? Japan to win by a 1 to 7 point margin is 53/4.