Week four of the Rugby World Cup saw the final round of pool matches being played. There were no major surprises and now fans and players can focus on the business end of the competition. South Africa, New Zealand and Australia are all through to the quarter-finals. We take a look at their tournaments thus far and assess their chances of getting into the semi-finals.
Some particularly pessimistic South Africans must have thought their team was on its way out after the two-time champions were defeated by Japan. The shock 34-32 loss is now a distant (albeit painful) memory after successive wins over Samoa (46-6), Scotland (34-16) and the USA (64-0).
The Springboks now face an injury-ravaged Welsh side at Twickenham on Saturday. Players from both sides have been preparing for a bruising battle that is sure to be high on tension and low on finesse. It’s likely that each side will try to boss the collisions and play for territory rather than trying to dazzle their opponents. The Boks look to be in solid form, but the Dragons have already shown they are capable of putting in some stirring performances, injuries notwithstanding.
Prediction: South Africa are hitting a good run of form and should prevail in a brutal contest. Boks by 6.
We all expected New Zealand to coast through their group, and so they did. After seeing off a spirited Argentinian side 26-16 in the first round, the All Blacks made short work of Namibia (58-14), Georgia (43-10) and Tonga (47-9). They finished top of their pool and currently have scored the highest number of tries in the competition.
The Kiwis face the French on Saturday in the second match of the day. Anyone who’s followed the Rugby World Cup in the past should be well aware of the hoodoo Les Bleus have over the reigning champions. France broke New Zealand hearts in the 1987 final, the 1999 semi-final and the 2007 quarter-final. The last time these sides met in a knockout game it was the Rugby World Cup final in Auckland. That night the French almost overcame a depleted All Blacks team who just managed to hang on to win 8-7.
Prediction: The All Blacks have played within themselves thus far, but we expect them to be too much for a somewhat rudderless French outfit. New Zealand by 10.
After a fidgety 28-13 victory over Fiji in the opening round, the Wallabies got consistently stronger with each pool game they played. They dispatched Uruguay (65-3) as expected and they crushed England’s Rugby World Cup hopes with a 33-13 drubbing, and finally, they held out against a determined Welsh side to win 15-6 in a tryless arm wrestle. Many pundits are tipping the Aussies to be the first nation to win three World Cups and with the form and versatility they have shown thus far, it’s easy to see why.
Michael Cheika’s team arguably have the easiest quarter-final of the three SANZAR nations. They will take on a Scottish team that is still reeling after the suspension of two of their star forwards, Jonny Gray and Ross Ford. The tournament has thrown up some surprises thus far, but it’s probably wise to not bet your house on the Scots coming away with a win on Sunday.
Prediction: Australia are looking too good for the Scots. Wallabies by 15.
We hope you’re showing your colours and supporting you’re team as the World Cup heats up. 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).
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:
|Tickets available on sale for RWC quarter finals
|Who plays through to the semi-finals?|
|Australia versus Scotland the facts
|Springboks and Wales preview