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The Latest: Scotland rest main team for Japan showdown

October 7, 2019
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Scotland players wave to the crowd following their Rugby World Cup Pool A game at Kobe Misaki Stadium between Scotland and Samoa in Kobe City, Japan, Monday, Sept. 30, 2019. Scotland defeated Samoa 34-0. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
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Scotland players wave to the crowd following their Rugby World Cup Pool A game at Kobe Misaki Stadium between Scotland and Samoa in Kobe City, Japan, Monday, Sept. 30, 2019. Scotland defeated Samoa 34-0. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

TOKYO (AP) — The Latest on Day 18 at the Rugby World Cup (all times local):

4:25 p.m.

Scotland has made 14 changes to its starting team to play Russia, the most ever by the Scots between Rugby World Cup games.

Only Darcy Graham, who’s moved from right wing to left wing, survives from the 34-0 drubbing of Samoa.

Among the 14 new players, flanker John Barclay will take over as captain. Regular skipper Stuart McInally is on the bench. Brothers George and Pete Horne are starting a Rugby World Cup game together first the first time, with George in at scrumhalf for Greig Laidlaw and Pete at inside center.

Adam Hastings, son of Scotland great Gavin, starts at flyhalf.

Scotland must beat underdog Russia in Shizuoka on Wednesday to retain a chance of making the quarterfinals. The final Pool A game for Scotland will be the real tester, against unbeaten host Japan when a quarterfinal place will be on the line in Yokohama.

Because of that, Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has decided to give most of his first-choice team a rest for Russia.

Scotland: Blair Kinghorn, Tommy Seymour, Duncan Taylor, Pete Horne, Darcy Graham, Adam Hastings, George Horne; Ryan Wilson, Fraser Brown, John Barclay, Ben Toolis, Scott Cummings, Zander Fagerson, George Turner, Gordon Reid. Reserves: Stuart McInally, Simon Berghan, Willem Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie, Henry Pyrgos, Chris Harris.

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4 p.m.

Lock Tomas Lavanini will miss Argentina’s last Pool C match against the United States on Wednesday as expected after receiving a four-match suspension following the disciplinary hearing for his red card against England last Saturday.

Lavanini admitted his shoulder-led charge into the neck of flyhalf Owen Farrell at Tokyo Stadium was a red card offense, and the second red card of his test career didn’t warrant a 50% discount from a six-game sanction.

The panel suspended him for the U.S. match, and three matches for his Northampton club in the English Premiership on Oct. 12, 19, and 27.

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12:40 p.m.

Flyhalf Dan Biggar has been cleared to face Fiji on Wednesday in Oita, where a win will move the Six Nations champion into the quarterfinals against old rivals England or France.

Biggar, who is first-choice kicker and has 376 points from 75 test matches, had to leave the field during the first half of the 29-25 win against Australia after sustaining a head injury when making a try-saving tackle on center Samu Kerevi.

He then failed a head injury assessment and was replaced by Rhys Patchell, who is on the bench against Fiji.

Wales coach Warren Gatland has made only two changes to the lineup which started against the Wallabies.

Both are in the back row, with Ross Moriarty replacing Aaron Wainwright at No. 8 and James Davies making his World Cup debut at openside flanker instead of Justin Tipuric.

Wainwright goes to the bench, where the only other change in the reserves sees Rhys Carre in for Nicky Smith at loosehead prop.

Wales: Liam Williams, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Ross Moriarty, James Davies, Josh Navidi, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Jake Ball, Tom Francis, Ken Owens, Wyn Jones. Reserves: Elliot Dee, Rhys Carre, Dillon Lewis, Aaron Shingler, Aaron Wainwright, Tomos Williams, Rhys Patchell, Owen Watkin.

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12:20 p.m.

Record point-scorer Nicolas Sanchez was back for Argentina’s last Pool C match against the United States on Wednesday in Kumagaya after being dropped from the matchday 23 that lost to England 39-10 on Saturday.

Argentina’s failure to reach the quarterfinals for the first time in 16 years was confirmed by France’s win over Tonga on Sunday.

Sanchez, the Pumas’ first-choice flyhalf coming into the Rugby World Cup, seemed to be made the scapegoat for the opening loss to France. He was in the reserves for the win against Tonga, then missed out completely for the crunch game with England that was close until the 18th minute when lock Tomas Lavanini was sent off for a high tackle.

Sanchez was among nine changes to the starting lineup, five in the backline.

Coming in were prop Santiago Medrano, lock Matias Alemanno, flanker Juan Manuel Leguizamon, and No. 8 Rodrigo Bruni in the pack.

Brought into the backline were scrumhalf Felipe Ezcurra, Sanchez, center Juan Cruz Mallia, wing Bautista Delguy, and fullback Joaquin Tuculet.

Ezcurra will be making his second start for Argentina in seven matches. His first was against South Africa in August.

Tuculet makes his first appearance in the tournament. He started five games in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, scoring against Tonga, and Ireland in the quarterfinals.

Argentina: Joaquin Tuculet, Bautista Delguy, Juan Cruz Mallia, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Santiago Carreras, Nicolas Sanchez, Felipe Ezcurra; Rodrigo Bruni, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Pablo Matera (captain), Matias Alemanno, Guido Petti, Santiago Medrano, Julian Montoya, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro. Reserves: Agustin Creevy, Mayco Vivas, Enrique Pieretto Heiland, Marcos Kremer, Tomas Lezana, Gonzalo Martin Bertranou, Benjamin Urdapilleta, Matias Moroni.

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12 p.m.

Fiji swapped Viliame Mata in at No. 8 for Peceli Yato in the only change to the starting lineup that beat Georgia 45-10 last week for the Pool D match against Wales on Wednesday in Oita. Yato was in the reserves.

Seven of the Fiji XV which started against Wales at the 2015 Rugby World Cup start again: The tight five of Campese Ma’afu, Manasa Saulo, Tevita Cavubati, and Leone Nakarawa, captain and flanker Dominiko Waqaniburotu, flyhalf Ben Volavola and wing Lepani Botia in that 23-13 loss in Cardiff.

If Nakarawa makes one more carry, he will hold the outright record for Fiji in Rugby World Cup history. Nakarawa has 104 carries, equal to Sisa Koyamaibole.

Nakarawa and Ma’afu will move into joint second on the Fiji list of World Cup appearances with 12, equal to Akapusi Qera. Nicky Little holds the record with 14 appearances.

Fiji: Kini Murimurivalu, Josua Tuisova, Waisea Nayacalevu, Lepani Botia, Semi Radradra, Ben Volavola, Frank Lomani; Viliame Mata, Semi Kunatani, Dominiko Waqaniburotu (captain), Leone Nakarawa, Tevita Cavubati, Manasa Saulo, Samuel Matavesi, Campese Ma’afu. Reserves: Mesulame Dolokoto, Eroni Mawi, Peni Ravai, Api Ratuniyarawa, Peceli Yato, Nikola Matawalu, Jale Vatubua, Josh Matavesi.

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11:45 a.m.

The United States made five changes, two of them positional, to the starting lineup after scaring France, for the Pool C match against Argentina on Wednesday in Kumagaya.

Lock Greg Peterson was up from the reserves to displace Nick Civetta in the only change to the pack.

In the backs, Ruben de Haas was at scrumhalf after Cam Dolan started in the losses to England and France, and Paul Lasike was at inside center, bumping Bryce Campbell to outside center. Marcel Brache moved from outside center to the left wing for the first time in this World Cup, displacing Martin Iosefo, who was in the reserves.

Wing Blaine Scully will captain the Eagles for the 31st time, overtaking Daniel Lyle to move into third place all-time. Only Mike Hercus (56) and Todd Clever (55) have captained the U.S. more in tests.

United States: Mike Te’o, Blaine Scully (captain), Bryce Campbell, Paul Lasike, Marcel Brache, AJ MacGinty, Ruben de Haas; Cam Dolan, Hanco Germishuys, Tony Lamborn, Greg Peterson, Nate Brakeley, Titi Lamositele, Joe Taufete’e, Eric Fry. Reserves: Dylan Fawsitt, Olive Kilifi, Paul Mullen, Ben Landry, Ben Pinkelman, Nate Augspurger, Will Hooley, Martin Iosefo.

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10:10 a.m.

Russia captain Vasily Artemyev will have started every Rugby World Cup game the Bears have played when he runs on against Scotland in Shizuoka on Wednesday.

Artemyev continues to be an inspiration for Russia. He was selected again to captain Russia for a 34th time against the Scots. The fullback has a Russian record 29 test tries.

Center Vladimir Ostroushko will also make an eighth World Cup appearance but he hasn’t started all of those. Andrey Garbuzov could come off the bench for an eighth World Cup game.

Russia coach Lyn Jones made nine changes to his starters for Russia’s final act in Japan. Russia can’t make the quarterfinals but the Pool A game could have significant repercussions for host Japan’s hopes of qualifying for the quarters if Russia can trouble Scotland and deny it a bonus point.

The nine switches equal the number of changes Jones made for the 35-0 loss to Ireland in Kobe four days ago.

The only players to retain their places this time are prop Kirill Gotovtsev, flanker Tagir Gadzhiev, halfbacks Dmitry Persov and Ramil Gaisin, winger German Davydov and Artemyev.

Russia has never won a World Cup game.

Russia: Vasily Artemyev (captain), German Davydov, Vladimir Ostroushko, Dmitry Gerasimov, Vladislav Sozonov, Ramil Gaisin, Dmitry Perov; Nikita Vavilin, Tagir Gadzhiev, Vitaly Zhivatov, Evgeny Elgin, Andrey Ostrikov, Kirill Gotovtsev, Stanislav Selskii, Valery Morozov. Reserves: Sergey Chernyshev, Azamat Bitiev, Vladimir Podrezov, Bogdan Fedotko, Andrey Garbuzov, Sergey Ianiushkin, Anton Sychev, Yury Kushnarev.

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9:45 a.m.

The teams take a rest on Day 18 on Monday as the Rugby World Cup heads toward the final pool games and the final reckoning for those with hopes of reaching the knockouts.

In Pool A, host Japan, Ireland and Scotland all have a chance of making the last eight, with Japan seeking history as the first Asian team to do that.

New Zealand and South Africa are in position to qualify from Pool B. Only a shock win for Italy over the three-time champion All Blacks, who are unbeaten in Japan, and a surprise from Canada against South Africa on Tuesday could change that.

Pool C’s quarterfinalists are decided: Northern hemisphere powers England and France are through, with their meeting in Yokohama on Saturday to decide the pool winner.

Australia and Wales are favorites to emerge from Pool D. Fiji is the wild card there and has a chance to upset things for Six Nations champion Wales on Wednesday in Oita.

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