Pool A was thrown into turmoil and some fascinating games remain before the teams to advance will be decided with Japan and Scotland facing potentially a key game in the final game of the pool. Ireland, in spite of its loss, should still be one of the qualifiers but whether at No.1 or No.2 is still to be decided.
While both Pool B with the All Blacks and South Africa and Pool D with Wales and Australia are going with the expected outcomes, Pool C is still interesting with England most likely to advance and second place still being contested between France and Argentina.
Japan's 19-12 win over Ireland on Saturday set the pool alight and has provided for some fascinating scenarios, the first of which was resolved later in the week when Scotland got their first win over Samoa 34-0. Ireland managed a bonus point 35-0 win over Russia to get back in the contest and to momentarily head the pool. But the situation is far from resolved. Japan if they get past Samoa on Saturday would regain top position. Failure to do otherwise would be costly for them. The last game of the pool, Japan against Scotland on Sunday week could have plenty riding on it. Ireland play Samoa to play a day earlier so both Japan and Scotland will go into the game knowing what is required of them to make the quarterfinals.
It can be anticipated that Rassie Erasmus' South Africa will not lose to Italy on Friday, as they did in 2016. That should make Italy's place at the head of the pool tenuous, especially with the All Blacks to play Namibia on Sunday. South Africa beat Namibia 57-3 on Saturday. Should South Africa claim a bonus point against Italy, the two sides would sit one point in front of the All Blacks, albeit having played one game more. South Africa's last game is against Canada on Tuesday. The All Blacks, after their 63-0 win over Canada on Wednesday have their last pool game on Saturday week against Italy in Toyota City.
Argentina's tournament hangs by a thread, three points off the pace in third place in the pool and facing a key game against top side England on Saturday in Tokyo. Argentina warmed up for the contest with a 28-12 win over Tonga while England, who started with a 35-3 win over Tonga and 45-7 win over the USA, won't have played for 12 days. After this game, Argentina will play USA on Wednesday but must get past England first if they are to have a chance of making the playoffs.
Then final placings in the pool will be determined by the England v France game on Saturday week, so long as France, who beat the USA 33-9, get past Tonga on Sunday.
It would take a significant upset to prevent Wales and Australia from finishing first and second respectively in this pool. They played out a tight contest on Sunday with Wales getting home in the face of a strong Australian finish 29-25. Fiji managed their first win on Thursday when beating Georgia 45-10. Had Fiji not lost to Uruguay the three extra competition points they would have received may have led to some interesting permutations in an otherwise lacklustre finish to this pool. Australia play Uruguay on Saturday while Wales meet Fiji on Wednesday. That will leave Australia with their Friday game next week against Georgia. The last game of the pool will see Wales meet Uruguay on Sunday week.