Japan head coach Jamie Joseph will ready his side for a “Grand Final” showdown against Argentina as they kept alive hopes of reaching the World Cup knock-out stages with a 28-22 win over 14-man Samoa in Toulouse, which saw England’s qualification secured.

Victory for the Brave Blossoms, who lead 17-8 at half-time, confirmed England as Pool D winners ahead of the final round of fixtures.

Japan – having reached the last eight for the first time four years ago as hosts – face Argentina, who are expected to comfortably beat winless Chile on Saturday to put themselves into an all-or-nothing clash in Nantes next weekend.

“It was a really tough game and we had to work hard to get the win. Hats off to the Samoan boys – they really took it to us,” Joseph said, as quoted on the official Rugby World Cup website.

“They got on top of us at times and we had to really keep at it for the whole game. The commitment was certainly there, but there were one or two things to work on for next week.”

Joseph added: “That will be our Grand Final, we get an opportunity to play a tier-one team.

“We have been there a bit before and I know our guys will be really excited for that one, but it is going to be another tough one.”

Samoa saw winger Ben Lam receive a yellow card early in the second half for a dangerous tackle into the side of Pieter Labuschagne’s head, which was upgraded to red following a bunker review by the TMO.

Samoa, who cannot progress following the defeat, face Pool D winners England in their final group-satge match in Lille on October 7.

Samoa head coach Seilala Mapusua said: “I’m really proud of the guys. The effort they put into the game, I couldn’t have asked for more.

“But it’s tough playing a game against 15 men and to be down a man with the red card. Unfortunate for Ben, it was just one of those contacts in the game.”

Mapusua admitted his side’s discipline problems were “very concerning” and they would have to regroup as they prepare to face Steve Borthwick’s men.

He added: “We have got to be technically correct otherwise we will be punished.

“We have seen that in the last three games, but not just our games throughout the competition. We are hopeful we can get it right next week.”

England qualified for the quarter-finals of the World Cup after Japan saw off 14-man Samoa 28-22 in Toulouse to keep alive their own hopes of progressing to the knockout stage.

The Brave Blossoms go on to face Argentina in the final round of Pool D matches – and only one of them will join Steve Borthwick’s side, who are confirmed as group winners ahead of their clash with Samoa due to their superior head-to-head record, in the knockout phase.

Japan, who reached the last eight for the first time four years ago as hosts, opened the scoring in the 13th minute when Pieter Labuschagne stretched over in the corner and Rikiya Matsuda converted.

A penalty from D’Angelo Leuila got Samoa, without captain Chris Vui through a late change, on the board, but Matsuda’s kick soon restored Japan’s advantage.

Michael Leitch added another try in the corner before Samoa’s Jonathan Taumateine was sent to the sin bin after a shoulder barge in the build-up.

Japan hooker Shota Horie was then shown a yellow card for making head-on-head contact as he stood up in a challenge with Seilala Lam, which went to the TMO for a bunker review but was not upgraded.

Samoa – whose final pool match with England is in Lille on October 7 – made the most of their man advantage, Lam touching down following a driving maul to go into the break trailing 17-8.

Samoa soon found themselves a man down when Ben Lam was sent to the sin bin after the TMO spotted a high tackle into the side of Labuschagne’s head.

Japan extended their lead as Kazuki Himeno was driven over in the corner, but the usually reliable Matsuda failed to convert.

Things then got worse for Samoa when Lam’s card was upgraded to a red before Matsuda again found his range to push Japan further in front at 25-8.

Kotaro Matsushima sprinted clear for what Japan thought was a bonus-point try, but it was ruled out for the slightest of knock-ons from Dylan Riley in the build-up.

Samoa, though, kept themselves in touch as Duncan Paia’aua went over in the corner, which Leuila converted from a tight angle only for fly-half Matsuda to push Japan clear again with another long-range penalty.

The 14 men battled on and pulled the deficit back again when Christian Leali’ifano dived over and then converted his own try, but Japan held out to set up a potential winner-takes-all showdown with Argentina in Nantes.

England’s defence may have turned a corner since arriving at the World Cup but Kevin Sinfield is still refusing to smile.

Steve Borthwick’s team are expected to win Pool D at a canter, in part thanks to a defence that has leaked just one try in three matches.

Even that solitary touch down was conceded late in the opener against Argentina when England played all but three minutes with 14 men following Tom Curry’s red card for a dangerous tackle.

It is a far cry from Borthwick’s first nine Tests in charge when the line was breached 30 times.

Sinfield, who oversees the defence, is satisfied with the progress made, but with greater challenges lying ahead in the World Cup, he wants more from his players.

“I’m never happy, I’m never happy. Across the board we’ve made some improvements and taken some steps forward, but there’s plenty to come from this team,” Sinfield said.

“My job is to be never happy and to keep pushing for more, but I see a group who want to get better and we are starting to see some pride in our defence. The zero against Chile was important for us and our mentality.

“I’m more pleased than I was, but I don’t want the players to do it for me, I want them to do it for each other and the people back home.

“The way they’ve gone about their business in the last three games in particular says a lot about the group.”

England’s next assignment is against Samoa and after a torrid warm-up campaign that produced three defeats in four Tests, Sinfield insists there is no appetite to halt their victorious run.

“We are here to win. We tasted enough disappointment and enough poor performances throughout August,” the Leeds Rhinos rugby league great said.

“We have tasted that and so we want to put our best foot forward against Samoa. We owe it to each other, to people back home and the supporters who have come here and been fantastic so far.

“We owe it to everyone involved that we throw everything at Samoa and we give it our best shot. We are very respectful of them, they are a great rugby nation and a fantastic country.

“There have been some very good games between the two nations in the past and we are looking forward to next Saturday.”

Sports stars and clubs across the world continue to provide an insight into their lives on social media.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the best examples from September 28.


It’s safe to say not everyone in the latest England squad was pleased with their EA Sports rating.

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Tony Bellew enjoyed Everton’s Carabao Cup win.


Kevin Pietersen is enjoying the return of Andrew Flintoff to the England set-up.


Viktor Hovland might wish he’d saved this for later on in Ryder Cup week.

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Justin Rose is Ryder Cup ready.

The rookies are ready to roll in Rome.

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Shane Lowry was pleased to see compatriot Tom Grennan on the entertainment bill.

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Luke Donald showed off his language skills…

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…before struggling to make himself heard.

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The USA man’s national team got behind their side.

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Sergio Garcia has strong opinions about MLS.


Mike Tyson meant business.


Wimbledon doubles champion Neal Skupski met Mohamed Salah.

Damian Lillard will be tasked with helping the Milwaukee Bucks return to the top of the NBA after his trade from the Portland Trail Blazers. 

Star guard Lillard signed for the Bucks on Wednesday in a three-way trade – which also included the Phoenix Suns – that saw Jrue Holiday, Deandre Ayton and Toumani Camara on the move too.

Lillard leaves Portland after 11 years with the Trail Blazers. He is a seven-time All-Star and enjoyed a career-best season in 2022-23, averaging 32.2 points and 7.3 assists, though he did sit out the final month of the season due to injury.

Now, the Bucks – the 2021 NBA Champions – will be hoping that Lillard can combine with two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo to push them towards another title, following a disappointing first-round exit at the hands of the Miami Heat in last season's playoffs.

Fast Fact

Despite missing the last 10 games of the season, Lillard (1,866) was Portland's highest points scorer last term by over 500, with Anfernee Simons next best for the Trail Blazers with 1,306.

Lillard a difference-maker

"His character, competitiveness, talent and experience complement our group and gives us the best chance to win at the very highest level as we create new memories together," Bucks general manager Jon Horst said of Lillard.

So, does Lillard have what it takes to make the difference for the Bucks?

Lillard leaves Portland as a franchise great. He ranks first in team history in points and three-pointers and second in assists. Including the playoffs, he had 17 games with 50+ points for the Blazers. All other players in franchise history have only combined for seven 50-point games. He is a big-game player, and he should help ease the burden on Antetokounmpo.

Gregor Townsend has called on his Scotland stand-ins to seize their chance to impress against Romania on Saturday and play their way into contention for involvement in what is shaping up to be a box-office showdown with Ireland.

The head coach has made 13 changes to his starting XV for the must-win match against the Pool B minnows in Lille this weekend, preserving several big guns including Finn Russell, Duhan van der Merwe, Jack Dempsey, Zander Fagerson and Sione Tuipulotu for a Paris meeting with the Irish that is likely to decide whether the Scots progress to the quarter-finals.

Javan Sebastian – with six caps as a substitute – will make his first start for Scotland, and the recently-recruited Edinburgh prop will be joined in the XV by his new club-mates Luke Crosbie, Hamish Watson and Ben Healy, who are also getting their first game time of this World Cup.

Lock Grant Gilchrist will captain the side in the absence of Jamie Ritchie, who is still on track to return against Ireland as he progresses through his return-to-play protocols after suffering a head knock against Tonga last weekend.

Townsend said that this weekend’s match is “absolutely” an opportunity for players to secure a spot in the 23 for the Ireland match.

“It’s hard when you’re training to show what you can do at the World Cup,” he said. “We put a lot on what players have done for us in the past and players have been training well, so we know they are in really good physical shape.

“But the best way to influence selection is to play well. The performance against Tonga was an improvement on South Africa and we’re looking to get better than we were against Tonga. This group have the opportunity to do that now.

“Saturday will be hugely influential. We’ve gone with a similar team now for four or five games. There have been one or two changes here or there, but within that the core of that group have played since the France home game (in early August).

“But the other players have an opportunity and they know this is the final opportunity they will get before we play Ireland.

“The decisions before South Africa, before Tonga, and going back to before the France home and away games, were tight already in a few positions, so if players play well it will be a much longer selection meeting on Monday night, I’m sure.”

Townsend feels Wales-born prop Sebastian, 29, has earned his first start after making a big impact on the squad since his debut two years ago.

“I think he’s probably been our most improved player throughout our summer camp,” said the head coach. “He’s worked really hard to get himself in a position where he can contribute physically outside of the scrum and he’s shown that in training.

“He’s actually won ‘trainer of the week’, or ‘mav (maverick) of the week’ as we call it. That’s something that’s voted for by the players and they’ve been really impressed by what he’s done in training.

“I felt the way he played against France in Saint-Etienne (as a replacement in August), both in the tight and the loose, showed that he was a player that’s got skills and can move well. He’s a very good rugby player. But the most important thing is his fitness. He’s the fittest he’s ever been.”

Romania have been annihilated in their first two pool games, losing 76-0 to Ireland and 82-8 against South Africa. Townsend is unfazed by the expectation on his side from outside the camp to deliver a similarly emphatic win.

“There’s always pressure or expectation when you play for Scotland,” he said. “You know you’re going to have to play your best rugby, that’s what that jersey demands of you.

“It will be a different game to what most of these players are used to. It’s not a Six Nations game and there will be a different way of defending.

“Sometimes we will have a lot of ball, and sometimes we will make mistakes because it’s the first time this team has gone out together, so the important thing is focusing on each moment and us playing as a team, and doing the work off the ball. Get that bit right and our game should flow much more on the back of that.”

Townsend revealed he has had discussions with World Rugby since his strong condemnation of the decision not to show a red card to Tonga’s Afusipa Taumoepeau for a dangerous high tackle on Ritchie last Sunday, a fortnight after he had been similarly critical of the decision not to send off South Africa’s Jesse Kriel for head-on-head contact with Dempsey.

“Yes, and I’m happy with the feedback process,” he said. “Obviously, I was very frustrated and disappointed with the actions at the time, and it wasn’t the only time I’ve experienced that in this World Cup, but you’ve got to move on from it.

“We’ve spoken to the officials of World Rugby around it and those are private discussions.”

Ireland number eight Jack Conan is “in a great place” and in contention to return from a two-month injury absence in his country’s pivotal Pool B clash with Scotland.

Andy Farrell’s side resumed training on Thursday following some time off after Saturday’s thrilling 13-8 victory over World Cup holders South Africa.

All 33 squad members were involved in the session at the team’s base in Tours, including back-rower Conan, who sustained a foot injury in the warm-up win over Italy on August 5, and Stuart McCloskey, who briefly returned home for the birth of his second child.

Defence coach Simon Easterby revealed the recovery of British and Irish Lion Conan has not been without setbacks, but says “there’s no reason why he won’t be available” against the Scots on October 7.

“Jack is a really important part of the squad,” said Easterby. “He’s good around the group.

“At certain stages he’s probably felt like it might not come right, but he’s worked really hard with the conditioners, with the physios, with nutritionists, so I think he’s done everything he can to get himself in this position.

“And I guess we’ve been fortunate with injuries in his position as well that we haven’t had to call upon him. A number of things have aligned to allow Jack to get himself right.


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“When Faz (Farrell) talked about that position and him (Conan) not having had the rugby coming into the World Cup, we all felt it was the right thing to do to have him and give him the opportunity.


“I think we’re starting to see the Jack that we’d liked to have seen a few weeks ago but injury has obviously not allowed him to be in that place.

“Like anything, I guess he’s got a bit of work to get through, but certainly he’s in a great place and we’re 33 at the moment, fit and ready to go.

“There’s no reason why he won’t be available next week.”

Centre McCloskey is one of three Ireland players yet to feature in France, alongside Conan and versatile back Jimmy O’Brien.

Speaking of the Ulster player, Easterby said: “Stuart McCloskey’s become a dad for a second time as well, which is great. He’s a happy man now.”

Ireland put themselves on the cusp of the quarter-finals by defeating the Springboks in Paris.

Yet the Six Nations Grand Slam champions are likely to need to complete the job when they to return to Stade de France a week on Saturday to take on Gregor Townsend’s side.

Easterby insists Ireland will have little issue switching attention to the forthcoming challenge following the euphoria of last weekend.

“It’s not hard to focus on what’s coming up, even though that might not be what people think,” he said.

“Scotland are a brilliant team, they have the ability to play lots of different ways.

“They can mix it up front with their forward pack, strong maul, scrum, as we saw against South Africa (an 18-3 loss on September 10).

“But they can also play an expansive game with some exciting backs that can really hurt you if you’re not on it.

“There’s definitely no lack of focus for us.

“We always planned to have that few days off regardless of what the result was against South Africa and we knew that this final game in the pool would be pivotal.

“We need to make sure that we prepare exactly how we prepared for the first three games against Romania, Tonga and South Africa.”

Europe captain Luke Donald urged his “fearless” players to write their own Ryder Cup history after showing faith in two of his rookies for the opening session in Rome.

While the pairings of Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton and Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood came as no surprise, Donald also handed Ludvig Aberg and Sepp Straka an early taste of the action at Marco Simone.

The fiery pairing of Rahm and Hatton will face world number one Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns in the first foursomes match, with Aberg and Viktor Hovland up against Max Homa and Open champion Brian Harman.

Straka and Shane Lowry were paired in match three versus Rickie Fowler and Collin Morikawa, with McIlroy and Fleetwood up against arguably the United States’ strongest pair in Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay.

Donald would not take the bait when asked if the 12 players were his gladiators, but said: “I would say they’re very fearless.

“They’re extremely good golfers. The atmosphere in the team room is fantastic. Everyone is in good spirits.

“It’s been an amazing journey. Couldn’t be more excited and happy for these 12 guys to go out and enjoy this week because I remember I had so many fond memories playing and being a vice-captain.

“As a captain it’s a little bit more of a stressful job, but I’m excited. I’m excited for the guys just to take this all in, enjoy it, and try and write their own history this week.”

United States captain Zach Johnson sprang a surprise by leaving the successful pair of Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas on the sidelines, with two of this year’s major winners – Brooks Koepka and Wyndham Clark – also sitting out.

“The eight guys I have down on paper are the ones that we feel best put us in the position to get off to a great start obviously.

“I have the utmost confidence in these eight and the utmost confidence in Jordan and Justin. I know we’re talking about a great tandem, but it’s a situation where it’s not about their form. They’re playing great. It’s really just a matter of trying to dissect all five sessions.”

Foursomes match times (all times BST, Europe names first)

0635: Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton v Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns

0650: Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg v Max Homa and Brian Harman

0705: Shane Lowry and Sepp Straka v Rickie Fowler and Collin Morikawa

0720: Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood v Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay

What is the format?
Four foursomes matches and four fourball matches are contested on each of the first two days, with 12 singles matches taking place on Sunday.

With 28 points available, 14 and a half are required to secure outright victory but, as the holders, the United States would retain the trophy if it ended in a 14-14 tie.

Weather forecast
High pressure remains in control of the weather throughout the three days of competition, with lots of sunshine, warm temperatures and fairly light winds. No rain is expected.

Multiple Grade One winner Envoi Allen is reported fit and well ahead of kicking off his campaign in the PWC Champion Chase at Gowran Park on Saturday.

Henry de Bromhead’s nine-year-old can boast a trio of Cheltenham Festival victories among an overall tally of 15 strikes from 22 outings under rules.

He landed the 2019 Champion Bumper, the 2020 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and last season’s Ryanair Chase, when powering up the hill to deny Shishkin under Rachael Blackmore.

“He’s in good form, he’s been working well, he’s schooling well, so we’ll get him started and see,” De Bromhead told Racing TV.

“It’s a competitive race, he’s got his penalty but he’s in good form and we’ve got to start somewhere and this seems an ideal place to start.”

Blackmore will again be in the saddle but Envoi Allen must give away 4lb to the Willie Mullins-trained Easy Game, who will be seeking a third success in this Grade Two race.

He beat The Storyteller by seven lengths in 2020 and got the better of stablemate Kemboy 12 months ago.

Barcelona boss Xavi wants his side to defend better as they prepare for their LaLiga clash with Sevilla on Friday.

Barca are currently unbeaten in the league so far this term but have conceded four goals in their last two games, coming from behind to beat Celta Vigo 3-2 before a 2-2 draw with Mallorca.

Despite their recent defensive flaws, Xavi’s side have scored 18 goals, which is the joint most in the division alongside league leaders Girona.

The Barca boss acknowledged those differences but thinks his side have to improve at the back.

He said: “We might not be as brilliant in defence as we were last season.

“We need to improve our pressure after losing the ball, press higher up the pitch, concentrate a bit harder.

“But we have got better up front. We created six clear chances against Mallorca and I think that’s good baggage.”

The Catalan giants will face a Sevilla side who, after a tough start to the campaign, are starting to show their true colours and are currently unbeaten in three.

Xavi praised their opponents on Friday and has called on the home fans to be the 12th man.

He added: “Sevilla are the defending Europa League champions and a difficult team to play.

“They’re solid, they like to play down the wings and play a direct, vertical game. But we’re at home.

“We need the fans and the atmosphere at Montjuic to get back on the winning track.”

A win for Barcelona could take them top of the league temporarily before the top two, Girona and Real Madrid, face each other on Saturday.

Xavi is not surprised by how well current league leaders Girona are doing.

He continued: “It’s no surprise to me because they have been doing things well at that club for several years.”

Alyanaabi advertised his star potential with a tremendous late rattle to claim the Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket.

Owen Burrows’ charge had created a taking impression when scoring on debut at Salisbury in June before finishing fourth behind Rosallion when upped to Listed level in a hot race at Ascot next time.

Sent off at 4-1 for this Group Three event, jockey Jim Crowley was in no rush aboard the son of Too Darn Hot in the opening stages, but Alyanaabi still had a wall of horses ahead of him with a furlong to run as Roger Varian’s Boiling Point made his charge for home.

Boiling Point – another of Too Darn Hot’s first crop – looked for all money the winner 50 yards from the line. However, the Shadwell-owned youngster still had plenty in the tank and once finding both space and top gear with the winning post looming, Alyanaabi ate up Boiling Point’s advantage to come out on top by a short head at the very last moment.

“He’s a horse we have always liked,” said Burrows.

“He ran well at Ascot, but we felt he was a bit better than that. He’s just got there today, but he would have been an unlucky loser if he hadn’t got there and I’m very very pleased.

“We’ve sort of given him a little bit of time between his races which has given him a little bit of time to develop and strengthen up. I’m sure he will do well through the winter and we hope to be back here in May time next season.”

Burrows may already be thinking about a 2000 Guineas tilt in the early part of next season, but the winner also holds an entry in the Dewhurst Stakes back on the Rowley Mile on October 15 and could still have further opportunities to stake his Classic claims this season.

Both Paddy Power and Betfair make Alyanaabi an 8-1 chance for the Dewhurst, while he was introduced into Coral’s market for the opening Classic of next season at 25-1.

“We’ll see how he comes out of this,” added Burrows. “He’s in the Dewhurst and if he comes out of this all right and the ground is still nice then we’ll see.

“Naturally you will be thinking of that (2000 Guineas) and he seems to have the right attributes so all being well that is what we will look for.”

The victory serves as a timely boost for connections ahead of their Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe tilt with the in-form Hukum at ParisLongchamp on Sunday, with Burrows looking forward to taking his stable star to the French capital.

“It does help and it does take the edge off a little bit – it’s nice to have a nice winner before – it all helps,” said Burrows.

“The draw (stall 14) for Sunday hasn’t been overly kind to us, but there isn’t a lot we can do about it and we’ll look forward to it.”

Elliot Minchella insists revenge has not crossed the mind of his Hull KR team-mates as they prepare to face Leigh for the fifth time this season in their Betfred Super League play-off elimination clash at Craven Park.

Rovers wiped out a two-point deficit and an inferior points difference with their win at relegated Wakefield last week to secure home advantage against the Leopards, to whom they suffered an agonising golden point Challenge Cup final defeat at Wembley last month.

Far from allowing their heartache to usher them out of the play-off picture, Minchella, one of his side’s standouts at loose forward this season, believes it steeled them to pull together and spark a revival that secured their top six place.

“We can’t get caught up talking about revenge,” Minchella told the PA news agency. “We’ve not even mentioned what happened in the past. As far as we’re concerned the league and cup are done now, and this is the start of a new competition.

“We deserve to be here and we want to be involved in those big occasions again. Our self-confidence and performances have been growing week by week, and that’s the result of getting that final out of our systems as quickly as possible.”

Rovers went to St Helens just six days after their loss in London, and although they came up short on that occasion they won three of their last six games to improbably overhaul Leigh on the last day and snatch fourth place.

The dejection on the faces of the Rovers players and fans after Lachlan Lam’s dramatic drop goal at Wembley prompted many to fear their top six hopes were effectively over, but Minchella pointed to head coach Willie Peters as the catalyst for their stirring late-season comeback.

“Whilst we were absolutely gutted about the result at Wembley we did take a lot of confidence from the way we performance, and the knowledge that as a group there is no reason we can’t perform in big games,” added Minchella.

“It was a blessing in disguise to have another game so soon afterwards, and Willie made it clear that if we didn’t push aside the disappointment our season could have derailed, so that’s exactly what we went out and did.”

Bradford-born Minchella, who joined Rovers in 2020, has excelled in his role at number 13 this season, playing an increasingly pivotal role in guiding a much-changed side through a swathe of high-profile injury setbacks.

“I’m playing in a slightly different role to previous years but it suits me and I really enjoy Willie’s style of play,” added Minchella.

“He knows where this club wants to go and he knows we’ve got the talent to get there. In the past we maybe haven’t had that work ethic and belief that we can do something, but he has really instilled into the group that we deserve to be where we are and can go on to big things.”

In contrast, Leigh head into the play-offs still seething from their controversial home defeat by Wigan last week which denied them home advantage.

The Leopards are without Zak Hardaker and have a major doubt over Minchella’s counterpart at number 13, John Asiata, and Leigh head coach Adrian Lam is braced for their stiffest test yet.

“This is the fifth time we’ve played them this season and since the loss at the Challenge Cup final, I think they’ve got a lot of confidence off the back of that,” said Lam.

“Like teams that do lose – Wigan in the Cup semi-final, Saints in the Cup semi-final to us – there’s a motivational part to help them get through the rest of the season.”

New Edinburgh prop Javan Sebastian will start for Scotland for the first time in Saturday’s must-win match against World Cup Pool B minnows Romania in Lille after Gregor Townsend made 13 changes to his XV.

Backs Chris Harris and Kyle Steyn are the only two players to have retained their places in the side from last Sunday’s win over Tonga.

Stand-off Ben Healy plus back-rowers Hamish Watson and Luke Crosbie join 29-year-old Sebastian – who has won all of his six caps as a substitute – in coming in for their first appearances of the tournament.

Lock Grant Gilchrist will take over the captaincy in the absence of Edinburgh colleague Jamie Ritchie, who is undergoing concussion protocols.

Uncapped Glasgow hooker Johnny Matthews – called up last weekend – will have the chance to make his debut off the bench.

Key men like Finn Russell, Duhan van der Merwe, Richie Gray, Jack Dempsey and Zander Fagerson have been left out of the 23 ahead of the following weekend’s showdown with Ireland, while established starters Blair Kinghorn, Huw Jones and Rory Darge will be on the bench.

Scotland must defeat Romania with a bonus point to ensure they have a chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals going into the Ireland match in Paris.

The in-form Chindit will bid for a fantastic three-timer in the Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Joel Stakes at Newmarket on Friday.

Richard Hannon’s five-year-old has won at Group level in each of the four years he has been in training with the Everleigh handler and has thrived of late, adding Sandown’s Fortune Stakes to the Group Three Superior Mile he secured at Haydock earlier this month.

He will now attempt to end September on a real high in a race which could be his final outing before commencing stallion duties for owner Dr Cyrus Poonawalla in India.

Hannon said: “I’ve been very happy with him at home and he’s just doing his routine canters and moving great – he’s arguably in the form of his life.

“He’s a gentleman and a pleasure to have around and I think this might well be his last run before he goes to India to stand as a stallion.

“He’s top-class and has been ultra-consistent and deserves his shot at a nice big race like this.”

Standing in Chindit’s way is Charlie Hills’ defending champion Mutasaabeq who made all in good style 12 months ago.

Four of his six career victories have come on the Rowley Mile, but he has been without a win since scoring at the track in May and having somewhat disappointed in his most recent efforts, connections are hoping his love affair with the track can see him bounce back to his very best.

Hills said: “He seems to love Newmarket and the Rowley Mile. He has a great record there and it has always been the plan really to aim him at this race after York.

“He’s been good (since York). We were a bit disappointed and he didn’t finish off his race as well as he could have done. We’ve had no problems with him and his work has been good leading up to this race so we’ll see how we get on.

“There is not too many runners in it and I’m not sure what the tactics will be, but we’ve got a good record there.”

William Haggas’ Maljoom counts a German 2000 Guineas triumph among three wins from his first four starts and could be classed as an unlucky loser when seeing his unbeaten record ended in the St James’s Palace Stakes at last year’s Royal Ascot.

He now returns from 472 days off for this Group Two event, while John and Thady Gosden have a decent hand saddling both Epictetus and Sovereign Stakes scorer Mighty Ulysses, who had Sir Michael Stoute’s reopposing Regal Reality behind in third at Salisbury.

It could prove a profitable afternoon for the Clarehaven team who also hold all the aces in the Princess Royal Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Stakes with Running Lion and Sweet Memories.

The former was extremely progressive earlier in the campaign before seeing her momentum checked in both the Oaks at Epsom – when withdrawn at the start – and then the French equivalent when well held.

She was a keeping-on second following a break at Salisbury last month and is now upped in trip for a first try at 12 furlongs.

The Frankie Dettori-ridden Coppice and Atalanta Stakes second Queen For You dominate the market in the Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai British EBF Rosemary Stakes, another race in which the Gosden training team have leading claims.

Meanwhile the lightly-raced Lion’s Pride is also given the chance to confirm his potential in a competitive Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Godolphin Stakes which features last year’s St Leger runner-up New London and Lion’s Pride’s Windsor conqueror Candleford.

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