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Permutations: Who can still win the Autumn Nations Cup? 

Permutations: Who can still win the Autumn Nations Cup? 

Permutations: Who can still win the Autumn Nations Cup? 

This weekend is crunch time in the Autumn Nations Cup, as the final standings in the group stage are determined and teams will seal their fate for Finals Weekend.

There are many possible scenarios that could arise during Round 3’s triple-header, with everything to play for in all three fixtures across the two days.

England and Wales will get the ball rolling in Llanelli on Saturday afternoon, with Eddie Jones’ side looking to maintain their 100% record in the competition, while the hosts will be fired up after their 18-0 victory over Georgia last time out.

All eyes will be on Paris later in the day, as France and Italy go head to head in Group B, before Ireland look to finish the group stages with a victory against Georgia in Dublin on Sunday.

The winners of each group will compete in a 1st/2nd place play-off on Finals Weekend to determine the victors of the inaugural Autumn Nations Cup, while the second-placed teams contest the 3rd/4th place play-off and so on.

With so many twists and turns expected over the weekend, things could get complicated, but we’ve got you covered with all the permutations right here.

As a reminder, HERE are the fixtures for Round 3, while the current standings can be found HERE.

GROUP A

ENGLAND

England are in pole position to finish top of the pile in Group A and face the winners of Group B on Finals Weekend but there is still work to do.

With two wins from their two Autumn Nations Cup fixtures, Eddie Jones’ side are sitting pretty atop the table, with nine points to their name.

A 40-0 win over Georgia in Round 1 was followed up by last weekend’s 18-7 victory over Ireland at Twickenham, putting them five points ahead of their nearest challengers with a game to play.

That means only a point is required as a victory, draw or even a four-try or losing bonus point will be enough for the reigning Guinness Six Nations champions to finish as the top ranked team in their group

Even if they lose by more than seven points, it would take a gargantuan points swing for them to be knocked off their perch, with Ireland needing overturn a points difference gap of 39 in addition to a bonus-point victory to top the standings.

A 29-point defeat to Wales could also see England lose out to Wayne Pivac’s side but that is more points than they have conceded in their last three matches combined.

IRELAND

Theoretically, Andy Farrell’s men could finish anywhere between first and fourth heading into the final round of fixtures, although a top-two finish appears the more likely outcome.

They currently sit level with Wales on four points but with a home tie against Georgia this weekend, they will fancy their chances of getting the victory to ensure at least a second-placed finish.

To top the table, Ireland need a bonus-point win over Georgia, England to leave Llanelli without a point and then the men in green to overturn a points difference deficit of 39 to the Red Rose.

Ireland’s points difference is currently +12 to Wales’s -5, so Farrell’s men will guarantee finishing above their Celtic rivals by matching their result this weekend, unless Wayne Pivac’s men run riot in Llanelli.

If the Lelos produce an upset in Dublin, and score four tries in doing so, it could leave Ireland bottom of the pile by the end of play, while a slender Georgian victory could leave them in third.

WALES

Wayne Pivac and his side find themselves in a similar predicament to the Irish, but with a much tougher task on their hands if they are to finish in the top two of the group.

Wales have lost eight of their last 11 matches against England, and if that happens once again this Saturday, they will more than likely finish third in Group A, barring a Georgian victory in Dublin.

But if Pivac’s side pull off the win at Parc y Scarlets, they will be in the mix for a spot higher in the table, although they will need better Ireland’s result or match it with a 17-point greater margin to climb above them.

A bonus-point victory could see them pull off the miraculous and finish top of the table, but that would need the aforementioned 29-point victory over England, as well as Ireland failing to pick up the bonus point or Wales overhauling that 17-point margin in points difference.  

GEORGIA

Having failed to score a single point in either of their two Autumn Nations Cup matches so far, it is looking like a tough task for the Lelos to finish anywhere but bottom of the table heading into Round 3.

A bonus-point victory over Ireland could see the Georgians finish as high as second if Wales also lose to England without earning a losing or four-try bonus point.

With a current points difference of -58, even a narrow victory at the Aviva Stadium would still see them sit bottom of the table, unless Wales suffer a heavy defeat on Saturday afternoon.

GROUP B

FRANCE

With Scotland already awarded a bonus-point victory for their cancelled clash with Fiji this weekend, the task is simple for France if they are to top Group B: avoid defeat against Italy.

Les Bleus sit two points behind Gregor Townend’s side with a game to play, after themselves being awarded the match against the Fijians, as well as defeating the Scots 19-12 in Paris last weekend.

That means a victory of any description over Italy would see them top Group B, as would a draw thanks to their points difference being superior to Scotland’s (+35 to +32)

Defeat to Franco Smith’s side could see them slip down to third in the table, with the Azzurri needing a bonus-point victory that keeps France pointless or a ten-point win to overturn the points difference deficit for that to be the case.

France haven’t lost to Italy since 2013, so will fancy their chances of topping Group B and setting up a Finals Weekend clash with the Group A winners.

SCOTLAND

With the points already in the bag this weekend, Scottish fans will be glued to their television screens to see where they will end up in Group B, as they become Italy fans for the day.

A top-two finish is already secured, with even a bonus-point victory for Italy this weekend not enough for them to catch Townsend and his troops.

The bonus points secured in their 28-17 victory over Italy, as well as the 19-12 defeat to France last week, have proved priceless and have put them in with a shout of leading the pack when all is said and done.

This one is simple. A France win or draw = Scotland finishing second. An Italy win = Scotland topping Group B.

ITALY

With five points to their name from the cancelled Fiji match, Italy sit third in Group B with a game to play, four points behind second-placed France.

Therefore, a bonus-point victory on their travels while stopping their hosts securing a four-try or losing bonus point would put them above their opponents on Saturday.

If the two teams finish level on points in Group B, then the Azzurri would need to overturn a points difference deficit of 18 to come above Les Bleus, while they can’t finish lower than third in the group.

FIJI

With this weekend’s clash against Scotland cancelled due to Covid-19 protocols, Fiji will finish bottom of Group B regardless of the Round 3 results, but are still in line to compete in a 7th/8th place play-off against the fourth-placed team in Group A on Finals Weekend.

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