(Updates Sept 22 factbox after withdrawal of Samoa number 14 Ah See Tuala and changes to backline positions)
Sept 23 (Reuters) - Factbox on the Rugby World Cup Pool A fixture between Russia and Samoa:
Kumagaya Rugby Stadium, Kumagaya
Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 7.15 local time (1015 GMT)
Samoa will become the final Pool A team to kick off their World Cup when they take on Russia in Saitama on Tuesday, seeking to mount a serious bid to reach the last eight for the first time in over 20 years.
To do so the Pacific Island trailblazers, quarter-finalists In 1991 and 1995, will likely have to beat both Japan and Scotland, something they could not manage in a disappointing fourth-place pool finish four years ago.
Since then, New Zealander Steve Jackson's side have showed glimpses of the Samoa of old, pushing Wales and Scotland mighty close on their 2017 Northern hemisphere tour. Their path is also not as insurmountable as if, say, they had landed in Pool B with the All Blacks and South Africa.
First they must dispatch the Russians, not quite the straightforward task it seemed a few days ago, before the rank outsiders gave hosts Japan a scare in the tournament's opening game but eventually ran out of steam in a 30-10 loss.
Russia, who only qualified when Romania and Spain were disqualified for using ineligible players, impressed with their direct running and solid scrum, attributes that were not lost on pool favourites Ireland.
"The Russian team probably belied their standing and how they had come into the tournament after some disappointing results, they were certainly a match for the Japanese team for 60 minutes," Ireland forwards coach Simon Easterby told a news conference ahead of his side's opening clash with Scotland.
"They made it very difficult for Japan to get into the game."
World ranking: 20
Coach: Lyn Jones (Wales)
Captain: Vasily Artemyev
Team: 15-Vasily Artemyev, 14-German Davydov, 13-Vladimir Ostroushko, 12-Dmitry Gerasimov, 11-Kirill Golosnitskiy, 10-Yury Kushnarev, 9-Vasily Dorofeev, 8-Nikita Vavilin, 7-Tagir Gadzhiev, 6-Vitaly Zhivatov, 5-Bogdan Fedotko, 4-Andrey Ostrikov, 3-Kirill Gotovtsev, 2-Stanislav Selskii, 1. Valery Morozov.
Replacements: 16-Evgeny Matveev, 17-Andrei Polivalov, 18-Azamat Bitiev, 19-Andrey Garbuzov, 20-Anton Sychev, 21-Dmitry Perov, 22-Ramil Gaisin, 23-Vladislav Sozonov.
World ranking: 16
Coach: Steve Jackson (New Zealand)
Captain: Chris Vui
Team: 15-Tim Nanai-Williams, 14-Alapati Leiua, 13-Rey Lee-Lo, 12-Henry Taefu, 11-Ed Fidow, 10-Tusi Pisi, 9-Dwayne Polataivao, 8-Afaesetiti Amosa, 7-TJ Ioane, 6-Chris Vui, 5-Kane Le'aupepe, 4-Teofilo Paulo, 3-Michael Alaalatoa, 2-Motu Matu'u, 1-Logovii Mulipola
Replacements: 16-Ray Niuia, 17-Paul Alo-Emile, 18-Jordan Lay, 19-Senio Toleafoa, 20-Josh Tyrell, 21-Melani Matavao, 22-AJ Alatimu, 23-Ulupano Seuteni
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistants: Jerome Garces (France), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)
POOL A FIXTURES/RESULTS (date/opponent/venue)
Sept 20 Japan 30-10 Russia Tokyo
Oct 3 v Ireland Kobe
Oct 9 v Scotland Fukuroi
Sept 30 v Scotland Kobe
Oct 5 v Japan Toyota
Oct 12 v Ireland Fukuoka (Compiled by Padraic Halpin and Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru Editing by Toby Davis)