Last weekend’s semi-finals saw both Argentina and South Africa (contrary to this humble author’s gutsy predictions) fall out of the race for the Webb Ellis Cup. These teams will now compete on Friday in the bronze final. That means Saturday’s final will be a trans-Tasman affair with Australia and New Zealand both looking to secure a third world title.
South Africa v Argentina
The chattering pundits this week have labelled Friday’s third place playoff as a “no win” situation for the Springboks. Many have cited the vitriol the team and coach will be subjected to should they lose, as well as the relative indifference to anything less than a dominant victory. Despite this negative sentiment, it is important to remember that the South Africans are likely to be fired up for this match. Legendary players like Bryan Habana, Fourie Du Preez Victor Matfield, Jean de Villiers and possibly Schalk Burger will not play for the Boks after this World Cup. A few of the young players, most notably 21-year-old centre Jesse Kriel, have already confirmed that the team is going to do their utmost to give these players the best send-off possible.
The Springboks’ opponents, Argentina, have done well this tournament. While some Northern Hemisphere rugby experts have unfairly labelled them a “surprise package”, everyone down south knows how good this team really is. Nicolás Sánchez has confidently marshalled his backline to some great victories in this Rugby World Cup. Due to injuries, los Pumas will be without the sublime Juan Imhoff, the experienced Marcelo Bosch and their inspirational captain Agustin Creevy.
Prediction: The Argentines will give it their all, but this is probably one game too far for them. Expect the Springbok bench to come on and win it.
New Zealand v Australia
Saturday’s game is what the last few weeks have been all about. The final show down between two of rugby’s dominant forces. There are few people who could honestly say that these two teams do not deserve to be in the final. The All Blacks and the Wallabies have been arguably the best two teams in the world over the last season.
Expect this match to be a battle of the tournament’s two best fly-halves: The evergreen Dan Carter and the cool as a tinny in a stubby Bernard Foley. Both are excellent with the boot from the tee and in open play. Carter does shade Foley in the hand-to-hand stuff, but only just. Having said that, both outside-halves will need their forward packs to fire. It will all come down to whether the experienced back row of Jerome Kaino, Kieran Read and Richie McCaw can keep the relentless scavenging duo of Michael Hooper and David Pocock from slowing down the Kiwi’s ball at ruck time.
The teams are evenly matched and in great form. The coaches for both countries are tactically astute and have the full commitment of their respective squads. This may just be the closest final we’ve seen since the game turned professional. Expect the players to leave everything out on the field.
Prediction: This New Zealand team is rightly called one of the greatest ever by fans and players alike, the Aussies will need a miracle to deny them a third World Cup. It will be tense, but the Kiwis will take it.
We hope you’re showing your colours and supporting you’re team as the World Cup draws to a close. It so happens that our 20th birthday coincides with the tournament, and to celebrate we’re giving one lucky expat a return trip back home from the UK. All you have to do to enter is take a picture showing your support for your team (and country).
For the final we’ve teamed up with Braai 365 to bring you the biggest World Cup final party in London. Buy tickets here before they sell out.
If you can’t make it to the party, check out the competition page by clicking the banner below:
For more in depth analysis, check out TNT’s coverage of the global showpiece below:
|Win a pair of tickets to the final!
|All Blacks can make history|
|2019 in Japan