A wonderful weekend of rugby and all the better because of the anticipation! We are now down to only 4 games to go at the Rugby World Cup. 4 of the 5 teams that I suggested could win the tournament are still in with a chance of winning the whole thing. I have been bringing you my predictions throughout the tournament and competing with Rugby4Cast and RugbyVision. They are 2 sites that run algorithmic predictions and they are competing with me in my open SuperBru league.
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Watch the #RugbyChat show, every Tuesday night at 8pm (NZ time), where we will talk about the hot topics in rugby. Let’s be honest there’s nothing hotter than the Rugby World Cup at the moment.
As with Super Rugby I’ll be testing my predictions in DrivingMaul v the Bookie. Check out how much I won from the TAB in week 4.
England v New Zealand – New Zealand by 10
One thing that we have seen is that pre-tournament form does matter if you’re going to make it to the pointy end of the competition. All four teams have only lost 1 competitive game at most this season.
- England – 10 wins, 1 draw & 2 losses (1 Six Nations & 1 RWC warm-up game)
- New Zealand – 7 wins, 1 draw & 1 loss
- Wales – 11 wins & 3 losses (all RWC warm-up games)
- South Africa – 8 wins & 1 loss
Two sides that racked up 40+ points in their victories this weekend go head to head. If you look at their recent record though there’s only 1 winner. Sure England have managed to keep it close in most of the game but they haven’t got the important victory. That 17 win by England was back in 2012 under Stuart Lancaster.
To be fair Eddie Jones has only had 1 game against Steve Hansen and that was a 1 point loss last November. We know that Jones is a wonderful tournament coach after taking Australia and South Africa (as an assistant) to the final and beating South Africa with Japan. Can he do it one more time?
There are the raw ingredients of a gnarly pack, quick players outside and solid defence. In the All Blacks though we saw a side that has multiple ways to wini games. The plan against Ireland was very different than against South Africa earlier in the tournament. We might have though that this side isn’t as dominant as past editions but they are pulling out tricks that have clearly been trained for a long time. Those tricks haven’t been used to try and turn tests that the All Blacks have lost but have been kept to win the big games that the Rugby World Cup. It’s hard to not expect the All Blacks to do it again.
EDIT: The longer the week goes on the more positive I’m feeling about England. It’s the hope that kills you….
Wales v South Africa – South Africa by 3
The contrast between two sides that racked up 40 points and these two sides is stark. These two sides relied on their defence a lot more. The Springboks used it to wear down Japan and then unleash their backs in the final 20 minutes. The Welsh didn’t even manage that and snook home with 2 defense generated tries in the end.
The Springboks will be facing a very different challenge to the one they came up against in Japan. Wales will not bash themselves into the green wall as the Brave Blossoms did. I can see a lot of kicking from both Wales and South Africa as they refuse to play in their own halves of the pitch. Wales have some great kick chasers in Bigger and Liam Williams. We saw that South Africa are happy to box kick or Bok kick their way through a game as we saw against Japan.
Looking at the recent record you have to say Wales have the upper hand. However 3 of those 4 wins on the trot were in Cardiff. The fourth was in Washington DC where SOuth Africa sent an “experimental team” to say the least. I think it will be a tight tense game but the Springboks have just shown more this tournament and will edge it in the end.
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