Scotland have one hand on WXV2 after a great second half performance against Japan, while Samoas loss to South Africa means that there will be no Oceania teams in WXV2 next year.
SCOTLAND 38-7 JAPAN
A penalty try on the stroke of half-time and further scores from Emma Orr (twice), Coreen Grant, Lana Skeldon and Sarah Bonar handed Scotland maximum points on a windy day in Cape Town where the conditions made it the proverbial game of two halves.
Following the 38-7 win, Scotland are now at the top of the standings with a perfect 15 points and know that if Italy fail to pick up a bonus-point in victory in Saturday's concluding match against the USA, the title is guaranteed to be theirs.
Italy will now have to score at least four tries and beat the Women's Eagles by 25 points or more to finish above Scotland.
Before that eagerly-awaited encounter, hosts South Africa take on Samoa in the second and final match on Friday, kick-off 16:30 local time (GMT+2), with the winner confirming their region’s place in the second level for 2024.
Scotland made it three bonus-point wins from three on Friday and now they must wait to see how Italy do on Saturday before the WXV 2 champions are crowned.
They did not have it all their own way against Japan in the Athlone Sports Stadium in Cape Town though, Japan leading for the majority of the first half.
A quick tap in the seventh minute helped Japan post the opening try. The ball was shipped wide and captain Iroha Nagata, the openside flanker, went through strongly past some poor tackling to score. It was converted by fly-half Ayasa Otsuka for a 7-0 lead.
Japan had started very well and their handling was pretty slick, young winger Misaki Matsumura had one run which showed her potential just before the 15-minute mark.
With the wind behind them they were using the boot well and a neat kick almost got them a second try, but Scotland right-wing Rhona Lloyd covered.
As well as their attack looking sharp, Japan were also defending well in numbers and deserved their lead as the first quarter ended.
In the 26th minute, Japan then lost inside-centre Kanako Kobayashi to injury, but they were still the team dictating the tempo of play.
Eight minutes before half-time Scotland had their best chance to date when outside-centre Emma Orr burst through. She looked like she might score herself, but instead passed to the outside and the opportunity was lost.
With the clock heading into – and then in – the red at the end of the half, a series of dominant scrums earned Scotland a penalty try and Japan loose-head prop Sachiko Kato was yellow-carded too.
With the extra player at the start of the second half, Orr ran a great line and scored a try in the 43rd minute. Fly-half Helen Nelson converted and it was 14-7.
A few minutes later Scotland inside-centre Lisa Thomson intercepted in her own half to put Scotland on the attack, but Japan’s scrambling defence did well.
Japan held out until they returned to 15 players and, around that time, they put some flowing rugby together themselves.
Scotland’s scrum was dominant, though, and in the 55th minute a good move put replacement Coreen Grant in at the corner. It was unconverted.
The bonus-point securing fourth try for the Scots came in the 61st minute when hooker Lana Skeldon went over from a lineout drive. Nelson converted and it was 26-7.
With 14 minutes to go Scotland scored their fifth try when Japan replacement Minori Yamamoto’s chip kick was gathered by substitute Sarah Bonar and she galloped in from 40 metres. Replacement Meryl Smith converted and it was 33-7.
Japan were down, but certainly not out and they kept attacking into the last 10 minutes, replacement Hinata Komaki particularly impressive.
Scotland’s final try through Orr went unconverted as they were victorious 38-7.
SOUTH AFRICA 33-7 SAMOA
Libbie Janse van Rensburg scored a hat-trick of tries as South Africa gave the home supporters at the Athlone Sports Stadium in Cape Town plenty to cheer on Friday.
They defeated Samoa 33-7 with a bonus point to confirm the African region's place in WXV 2.
Samoa, who looked good in patches in their first two matches, just ran out of steam here and they will finish sixth out of six with just one point.
The home side looked like they meant business from the very first whistle and it took them only until the sixth minute to score the opening points.
It was their playmaker Janse van Rensburg who showed good awareness and an eye for a gap to score the try and she also converted.
Those seven points gave them confidence while they were using their power runners well and one of them, number eight Catha Jacobs, was next to score. She burst through the defence and Samoa couldn't stop her. The try went unconverted.
In the whole of the first half, South Africa had 72 per cent of possession and they made it count to make sure of the four-try bonus point.
Firstly, try number three came through Janse van Rensburg in the 24th minute, which she converted herself, and then blindside flanker Lusanda Dumke got in on the act just before the interval. Janse van Rensburg converted and it was 26-0.
The South African scrum had dominated in the first half, but the Samoan pack, to their credit, came back into things in the early minutes after half-time.
However, they could not help their team make any inroads on the scoreboard.
And on the hour mark South Africa almost scored try number five, Asithandile Ntoyanto nearly barrelling over the try line, but she was held up well by Samoan replacements, Faalua Tugaga and Utumalama Atonio.
South Africa kept searching for the fifth try and in the 66th minute another replacement, Lulu Leuta, was yellow carded for a shoulder to the head tackle on opposition full-back Byrhandre Dolf.
The Samoan battling qualities were shown in spades in the 71st minute though because, with 14 players, they scored a well-worked try through captain and openside flanker Sui Pauaraisa. Replacement Bella Milo converted and it was 26-7.
The elusive second-half score for South Africa came when Janse van Rensburg, later named the Mastercard Player of the Match, scored her third try and converted it for good measure.
Tugaga thought she had scored a try for Samoa at the death, but an obstruction by outside-centre Hope Schuster saw the try chalked off and it finished 33-7.