Most of the groups are looking sorted out as we head into the last week of the pool stages. Here are my predictions for the fourth week.
How did you selections go last week?
8 from 9, perhaps my heart ruled my head with the England call but there are worse sins.
Canada v Romania
Canada were one of the sides that were disappointing heading into this Rugby World Cup. Their 7s campaign for the Olympics had taken a toll on the 15s side. They have improved through this tournament having had the time together. Romania didn’t have much of a build up and have being fighting gallantly. I feel that Canada will have enough quality to sneak this one.
Canada by 5
Fiji v Uruguay
Both these sides have had a really though time. Fiji haven’t been able to pull off that upset that their pre-tournament form promised. Uruguay like all the tier 2 nations have put up a better fight than expected but are going to be outclassed again.
Fiji by 25
South Africa v USA
After their massive wake up call, South Africa have hit their straps. The USA were over hyped coming into this tournament and were always going to be up against it. This will be a bruising encounter where the Boks should run out comfortable winners.
South Africa by 30
Namibia v Georgia
Namibia are another side that have put up more of a fight than expected. This though is Georgia’s Final. Their pre-tournament target was third in the group and auto qualification for the Rugby World Cup in 4 years time. Having seen their emotion and commitment to this goal I think they will achieve it with a win here.
Georgia by 15
New Zealand v Tonga
The All Blacks have stuttered in this tournament so far. They still have 3 wins and 2 TBPs but will be looking for a more error free performance. Tonga have had a tight time with even Namibia coming closer than you would expect. So I’m expecting New Zealand to make a statement prior to the knockout stages and comfortably win.
New Zealand by 20
Samoa v Scotland
Samoa had the best draw of the pacific island nations, unfortunately they have been disappointing and not been able to take advantage of it. Scotland have been able to turn performances into results with the exception of the South Africa game. I’m expecting them to be able to do that again and book themselves a place in the QFs.
Scotland by 15
Australia v Wales
One of the two big clashes of the weekend. Australia have looked a side transformed over the last 12 months. Their performance against England has had many folks putting them in as favourites now, personally that feels a little early. Wales are obviously down players but still getting the results. As they have qualified for the QFs do they rest players or punch on for the “easier” half of the draw? Either way I think Australia will come out on top in this clash.
Australia by 7
England v Uruguay
What England team will get picked? All change and potentially show that the previous selections were wrong or keep the same? Uruguay were always here purely for the experience and they have given a good account of themselves. This though could be a game too far against the hosts hurting from the media backlash at not qualifying. I’m predicting a big England win.
England by 40
Argentina v Namibia
Argentina have really stepped it up for this tournament. In the Rugby Championship they looked poor except for that emotional powered game against South Africa. Here they have shown they have back play to go with their strong pack. Namibia have been far more resilient than everybody predicted. I can’t see them causing anything like an upset but will fight hard and keep the score down.
Argentina by 20
Italy v Romania
Italy have looked poor all year but they will have enough to see of Romania. Romania are again another side here for the experience who have given a good account of themselves.
Italy by 15
France v Ireland
The other big game and France have really impressed me. Before the tournament I didn’t give them much of a hope but they have improved greatly. A strong pack with some good backs. Ireland have been quietly going about their business and getting the results without being that impressive. It’s all been building towards this game. I think that Ireland’s game management will win the day.
Ireland by 5
USA v Japan
It could all be decided by this game. Before the tournament many people talked up the USA as possibly winning this game. After seeing Japan I think everybody is now expecting the opposite and realise how wrong they were. The USA will bash and bash but not have the skills to break Japan down. Japan will win by a couple of scores at least, I just hope that Samoa have pulled and upset off so that this game matters.
Japan by 20