Rugby World Cup 2023 Week 4 preview, lineups, predictions

Bruce: One of the darkest days in Australian rugby history (1:56)

Sam Bruce looks at where the 40-6 defeat to Wales and a group stage exit leaves the Wallabies, and the turmoil that surrounds Eddie Jones off the field. (1:56)

Wow, after a week of incredible Rugby World Cup action we're heading towards the pointy end!

While most quarterfinal spots are all but locked in, results this week could have huge implications on who plays who in knock out rounds in two weeks time.

Read ahead for team lists and previews.

- RUGBY WORLD CUP 2023: Squads | Schedule | Standings | Podcast | Injuries

Jump ahead to a particular game.

Uruguay vs. Namibia

Japan vs. Samoa

New Zealand vs. Italy

Argentina vs. Chile

Fiji vs. Georgia

Scotland vs. Romania

Australia vs. Portugal

South Africa vs. Tonga

Wednesday, September 27

Uruguay vs. Namibia, OL Stadium, Lyon (5:45p.m. local / 1:45a.m. AEST / 4:45p.m. GMT)

Uruguay: Baltazar Amaya, Bautista Basso, Felipe Arcos Perez, Andres Vilaseca, Nicolas Freitas, Felipe Etcheverry, Santiago Arata, Carlos Deus, Santiago Civetta, Manuel Ardao, Manuel Leindekar, Felipe Aliaga, Diego Arbelo, German Kessler, Mateo Sanguinetti.

Replacements: Guillermo Pujadas, Facundo Gattas, Reinaldo Piussi, Juan Manuel Rodriguez, Eric Dosantos, Agustin Ormaechea, Felipe Berchesi, Juan Manuel Alonso

Namibia: Cliven Loubser, Gerswin Mouton, Alcino Izaacs, Danco Burger, JC Greyling, Tiaan Swanepoel, Damien Stevens, Richard Hardwick, Tjiuee Uanivi, Prince Gaoseb, Tiaan De Klerk, Adriaan Ludick, Johan Coetzee, Torsten Van Jaarsveld, Jason Benade.

Replacements: Louis van der Westhuizen, Desiderius Sethie, Haitembu Shifuka, PJ Van Lill, Max Katjijeko, Adriaan Booysen, Jacques Theron, Andre van der Bergh.

Verdict: The battle to avoid the wooden spoon in Pool A gets us going in week four of the Rugby World Cup, a match where Uruguay will start heavy favourites. After an impressive first-up showing against the tournament hosts, the South Americans put Italy under genuine stress last week before they lost their skipper to the sin-bin, and that proved the beginning of the end.

Namibia have meanwhile been much further off the pace and almost gave up the ton to France last week. It was a sorry night for the Africans, who lost skipper Jean Deysel to a red card for a dreadful tackle on French superstar Antoine Dupont, a hit that has cost the Namibia captain a five-week ban.

They will, however, have targeted this game as their best chance of an unlikely victory in what has become another sorry tournament for the Welwitschias. But it's hard to see them getting within 15 points of the Uruguayans who are one of the developing rugby nations genuinely on an uphill curve.

Tip: Uruguay by 23.

Thursday, September 28

Japan vs. Samoa, Stadium de Toulouse, Toulouse (9p.m. local / 5a.m. AEST / 8p.m. GMT)

Japan: Lomano Lemeki, Kotaro Matsushima, Dylan Riley, Ryoto Nakamura, Jone Naikabula, Rikiya Matsuda, Yutaka Nagare; Kazuki Himeno, Pieter Labuschagne, Michael Leitch, Amato Fakatava, Jack Cornelsen, Jiwon Gu, Shota Horie, Keita Inagaki.

Replacements: Atsushi Sakate, Craig Millar, Asaeli Ai Valu, Warner Dearns, Kanji Shimokawa, Naoto Saito, Seungsin Lee, Tomoki Osada.

Samoa: Duncan Paia'aua, Ed Fidow, Tumua Manu, Alai D'Angelo Leuila, Ben Lam, Christian Leali'ifano, Jonathan Taumateine, Sa Jordan Taufua, Fritz Lee, Taleni Seu, Theo McFarland, Chris Vui (co-captain), Paul Alo-Emile, Seilala Lam, James Lay.

Replacements: Sama Malolo, Jordan Lay, Michael Alaalatoa (co-captain), Steven Luatua, Alamanda Motuga, Melani Matavao, Neria Fomai, Danny Toala.

Verdict: This is a huge game in Pool D, with the loser's campaign to be all but over and the winner taking a significant step towards a quarterfinal berth. The two sides only met recently as well, with Samoa emerging 24-22 after Japan veteran Michael Leitch was red-carded for a dangerous tackle.

Another tight encounter looms this time around, too, with both sides still hunting their best form in France, having shown fleeting instances of exactly what they're capable of. Samoa need to improve their ball-handling after they shed an enormous amount of dropped ball last week, while Japan made plenty of breaks against England, but were unable to finish them off. Such is the closeness of these two teams, discipline will be vital with neither side good enough to keep opposition attacks at bay when they are down a man.

Samoa certainly have the edge in power, but you get the feeling the Brave Blossoms continuity of player might just get them across the line and into a huge final-weekend clash with the Pumas.

Tip: Japan by 3.

Friday, September 29

New Zealand vs. Italy, OL Stadium, Lyon (9p.m. local / 5a.m. AEST / 8p.m. GMT)

New Zealand: Beauden Barrett, Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane, Jordie Barrett, Mark Telea, Richie Mo'unga, Aaron Smith, Ardie Savea (captain), Dalton Papali'i, Shannon Frizell, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick , Nepo Laulala, Codie Taylor, Ofa Tu'ungafasi

Replacements: Dane Coles, Tamaiti Williams, Tyrel Lomax, Sam Whitelock, Sam Cane, Cam Roigard, Damian McKenzie, Anton Leinart-Brown

Italy: Tommaso Allan, Ange Capuozzo, Juan Ignacio Brex, Luca Morisi, Montanna Ioane, Paolo Garbisi, Stephen Varney, Lorenzo Cannone, Michele Lamaro (captain), Sebastian Negri, Federico Ruzza, Dino Lamb, Marco Riccioni , Giacomo Nicotera, Danilo Fischetti

Replacements: Hame Faiva, Ivan Nemer, Simone Ferrari, Niccolo Cannone, Manuel Zuliani, Toa Halafihi, Martin Page-Relo, Paolo Odogwu.

Verdict: The All Blacks are back in action after a week off, a week off that has done them the world of good as they have repeated a clean bill of health across the squad. Back come Shannon Frizell, Jordie Barrett and Sam Cane, with the regular skipper set to come off the bench alongside another returning forward Tyrel Lomax.

Italy, too, are buoyant after two impressive wins to start their campaign, but they the true test of their recent improvement under Kieran Crowley comes over the next week. The Azzurri have never made the World Cup knockout stage, but can do so with a win over New Zealand on Thursday night, a victory that would go down as one of the tournament's alltime upsets.

Despite their recent improvement, it is still hard to see them recording what would be their first win over the All Blacks, too. Italy have some good periods of play in them, no doubt, and have certainly grown their attacking game under Crowley, but it is the need to play to a continually high intensity which they are yet to master. To beat New Zealand, even a New Zealand team that has lost two of its last three, teams cannot drop their intensity or physicality for a moment, as the three-time world champions still have the ability to sting opposition sides from anywhere.

Tip: New Zealand by 20.

Saturday, September 20

Argentina vs. Chile, Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes (3p.m. local / 11p.m. AEST / 2p.m. GMT)

Argentina: Martin Bogado, Rodrigo Isgro, Lucio Cinti, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Juan Imhoff, Nicolas Sanchez, Tomas Cubelli; Facundo Isa, Marcos Kremer, Juan Martin Gonzalez, Pedro Rubiolo, Guido Petti, Eduardo Bello, Augustin Creevy, Thomas Gallo.

Replacements: Ignacio Ruiz, Mayco Vivas, Francisco Gomez Kodela, Matias Alemanno, Joaquin Oviedo, Lautaro Bazan Velez, Santiago Carreras, Juan Cruz Mallia.

Chile: Inaki Ayarza, Santiago Videla, Domingo Saavedra, Matias Garafulic, Jose Ignacio Larenas, Rodrigo Fernandez, Marcelo Torrealba; Raimundo Martínez, Clemente Saavedra, Martín Sigren (c) Javier Eissmann, Santiago Pedrero, Matias Dittus, Augusto Bohme, Javier Carrasco.

Replacements: Tomas Dussaillant, Salvador Lues, Esteban Inostroza, Augusto Sarmiento, Alfonso Escobar, Ignacio Silva, Nicolas Herreros, Francisco Urroz.

Verdict: The first ever all-South American Rugby World Cup clash represents an historic moment for that part of the world, with Chile's rise coming on the back of improvement from Uruguay, and of course the Pumas' deeds of the past two decades. Los Condores have however found the going tough at the global showpiece to date, and their final encounter of the tournament isn't likely to be any easier.

Pumas coach Michael Cheika has taken the opportunity to freshen up his squad ahead of the second-place defining pool clash with Japan next week, with Argentina naming a number of new faces in the run-on team while frontline stars Pablo Matera, Emiliano Boffelli and skipper Julian Montoya all given the week off.

Chile will continue to play in the same attacking spirit that has won them plenty of fans in France, but Argentina's physicality and dogged defensive line will be hard to crack, and the Chileans will eventually be worn down. Expect Argentina to really run up a score in this one after halftime.

Tip: Argentina by 55

Fiji vs. Georgia, Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux (5:45p.m. local / 1:45a.m. AEST / 4:45p.m. GMT)

Fiji: Ilaisa Droasese, Selestino Ravutaumada, Waisea Nayacalevu, Josua Tuisova, Semi Radradra, Teti Tela, Simione Kuruvoli; Viliame Mata, Levani Botia, Lekima Tagitagivalu, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Isoa Nasilasila, Luke Tagi, Sam Matavesi, Eroni Mawi

Replacements: Tevita Ikanivere, Peni Ravai, Samu Tawake, Temo Mayanavanua, Albert Tuisue, Frank Lomani, Vilimoni Botitu, Vinaya Habosi.

Georgia: Mirian Modebadze, Akaki Tabutsadze, Demur Tapladze, Giorgi Kveseladze, Davit Niniashvili, Luka Matkava, Vaso Lobzhanidze; Tornike Jalaghonia, Beka Saginadze, Mikheil Gachechiladze, Kote Mikautadze, Lasha Jaiani, Beka Gigashvili, Tengizi Zamtaradze, Mikheil Nariashvili

Replacements: Luka Nioradze, Nika Abuladze, Irakli Aptsiauri, Nodar Cheishvili, Luka Ivanishvili, Gela Aprasidze, Tedo Abzhandadze, Tornike Kakhoidze

Verdict: Within touching distance of a first quarterfinal appearance since the 2007 World Cup in France, Fiji will be looking to sew up their place from Pool C with a bonus-point win over Georgia. Such a result would seal Australia's exit not matter what the Wallabies do on Sunday, with the Fijians having a game up their sleeve if they are to suffer a shock loss or fail to secure the bonus point.

But such was their performance against the Wallabies, and the fact they have had a week off to refresh and continue to hone their game, the Fijians should have little trouble seeing off Georgia, who were lucky to nab a draw with Portugal last week. The improvement in the Fijians' scrum, in particular, gives cause for confidence, while the very un-Fiji like game they played against Australia shows they have the resilience and belief to handle any situation that comes their way.

Georgia certainly have nothing to lose and can play with a freedom they just couldn't find against Portugal, but you just feel like this Fijian team is capable of doing something special in France, maybe reaching a first semifinal, and Georgia will be nothing more than a minor speedbump on their path to the knockout stage.

Tip: Fiji by 15

Scotland vs. Romania, Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille (9p.m. local / 6a.m. AEST / 8p.m. GMT)

Scotland: Ollie Smith, Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Cameron Redpath, Kyle Steyn, Ben Healy, Ali Price; Matt Fagerson, Hamish Watson, Luke Crosbie, Grant Gilchrist (captain), Sam Skinner, Javan Sebastian, Ewan Ashman, Jamie Bhatti.

Replacements: Huw Jones, Blair Kinghorn, George Horne, Rory Darge, Scott Cummings, WP Nel, Rory Sutherland, Johnny Matthews.

Romania: Marius Simionescu, Sioeli Lama, Jason Tomane, Fonovai Tangimana, Taliauli Sikuea, Alin Conache, Gabriel Rupanu; Cristian Chirica (capt), Dragos Ser, Florian Rosu, Stefan Iancu, Adrian Motoc, Gheorghe Gajion, Robert Irimescu, Alexandru Savin.

Replacements: Florin Bardasu, Iulian Hartig, Costel Burtila, Marius Iftimiciuc, Damian Stratila, Florin Surugiu, Tudor Boldor, Nicholas Onutu.

Verdict: It's Scotland's turn to dish out another World Cup whooping to Romania, who have been little more than cannon fodder in their two games to date. The Scots will have one eye -- even both eyes -- on next week's clash with Ireland, which they will need to win to be any hope of advancing from Pool B.

With that in mind, Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has shuffled his deck, with stars Finn Russell, Sione Tuipulotu, Duhan van der Merwe, Jack Dempsey and skipper Jamie Ritchie all given the week off to rest up for next week's vital clash. That affords an opportunity to the wider reaches of Scotland's squad, with rising centre Cameron Redpath who will be looking to press his claims. There is also an opportunity for fly-half Ben Healy, who has the chance to really run up a personal tally against the hapless Romanians.

Having scored just the one try thus far in France, the Romanians will be looking to boost that ledger, but they will struggle to contain Scotland on the other side of the ball. Another hammering awaits.

Tip: Scotland by 68

Sunday, October 1

Australia vs. Portugal, Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Etienne (5:45p.m. local / 2:45am AEDT / 4:45p.m. GMT)

Australia: Andrew Kellaway, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Izaia Perese, Lalakai Foketi, Marika Koroibete, Ben Donaldson, Tate McDermott, Rob Valetini, Fraser McReight, Tom Hooper, Richie Arnold, Nick Frost, James Slipper, Dave Porecki, Angus Bell.

Replacements: Matt Faessler, Blake Schoupp, Pone Fa'amausili, Rob Leota, Josh Kemeny, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Carter Gordon, Suliasi Vunivalu.

Portugal: Nuno Sousa Guedes, Raffaele Storti, Pedro Bettencourt, Tomas Appleton (captain), Rodrigo Marta, Jeronimo Portela, Samuel Marques, Thibault de Freitas, Nicolas Martins, David Wallis, Martim Belo, Jose Madeira, 3-Diogo Hasse Ferreira, Mike Tadjer, David Costa

Replacements: Francisco Fernandes, Duarte Diniz, Francisco Bruno, Steevy Cerqueira, Rafael Simoes, Joao Belo, Joris Moura, Manuel Cardoso Pinto.

Verdict: It has been a brutal week for the Wallabies and Australian rugby. All but out of the World Cup at the pool stage for the first time, the Australians have attempted to put on a brave face and look to the future, but the facade has been tough to cop given their lacklustre performances of the past two weeks. Could they fall in a heap completely against Portugal? Such a result looks fanciful, as Australia A saw off Portugal 30-17 in the build-up to the tournament, but Los Lobos will come to Saint-Etienne with nothing to lose.

Wallabies coach Eddie Jones continues to come under fire meanwhile, with rumours continuing to swirl that he is poised to take a job with Japan after the World Cup wraps up. Jones has made three changes for this clash, and fields an entirely new centre pairing in all-Waratahs duo Lalakai Foketi and Izaia Perese in doing so, while Fraser McReight returns at No. 7 for a game that is expected to be fast and loose.

Australia should get the job done, but you can only imagine the nerves if they were to fall behind early. A loss here would round out a catastrophic World Cup for the Wallabies.

Tip: Australia by 20.

South Africa vs. Tonga, Stade de Marseille, Marseille (9p.m. local / 6a.m. AEDT / 8p.m. GMT)

South Africa: Willie le Roux, Grant Williams, Canan Moodie, Andre Esterhuizen, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Cobus Reinach, Jasper Wiese, Duane Vermeulen, Siya Kolisi (capt.), Marvin Orie, Eben Etzebeth, Vincent Koch, Deon Fourie, Ox Nche.

Replacements: Marco van Staden, Steven Kitshoff, Trevor Nyakane, Franco Mostert, Kwagga Smith, Jaden Hendrikse, Jesse Kriel, Manie Libbok.

Tonga: Salesi Piutau, Fine Inisi, Malakai Fekitoa, Pita Ahki, Anzelo Tuitavuki, William Havili, Augustine Pulu: Semisi Paea, Sione Talitui, Tanginoa Halaifonua, Sam Lousi, Halaleva Fifita, Ben Tameifuna (capt), Paula Ngauamo, Siegfried Fisi'ihoi.

Replacements: Sam Moli, Tau Koloamatangi, Sosefo Apikotoa, Adam Coleman, Sione Vailanu, Sonatane Takulua, Patrick Pellegrini, Afusipa Taumoepeau

Verdict: All eyes will be Springboks fly-half Handre Pollard as he returns to play his first game of the World Cup, after being added to the squad as the replacement for injured Malcolm Marx. After Manie Libbok's kicking woes, Springboks fans will be hoping Pollard can prove the difference they may well need for the knockout stage.

This is also South Africa's final game before they will face either the All Blacks, France, or even Italy, though after Friday night's effort it's hard to see that being the Azzurri. The Boks have shuffled their squad somewhat, with a handful of starting positions hotly contested.

Tonga improved in last week's clash with Scotland, but the loss of Vaea Fifita to a red card, and a subsequent suspension, was always going to hurt. They will hang in this contest for its first half hour or so, but look for the Springboks to run away after halftime.

Tip: South Africa by 40.