We are about halfway through the Rugby World Cup now and we have seen plenty of shockers. I think the one that tops all of these though, would probably be the early exit of host nation England – also the winners of the 2003 Rugby World Cup. But then again they had been drawn into the Group of Death…
Japan’s shock victory against the Springboks was possibly another major shocker and even though the Cherry Blossoms unfortunately did not qualify from the group rounds, they can hold their heads up high and their nation can truly be proud of their showing.
Now, there should be more surprises coming our way, with the knockout rounds. This weekend, the Quarter Finals will be with us, beginning on Saturday. We have seen how the teams have performed in the group stages. We have witnessed who have impressed and who have disappointed us. But who will progress further in the competition and who will get knocked out?
Here are my predictions.
1) NEW ZEALAND VS FRANCE
New Zealand will be keen to extinguish the ghosts of 2007 in this Quarter Final. Back in 2007, they were knocked out by the French. They will want to make amends this time.
But will they? Well, if you ask me, I think that the All Blacks will triumph – and so will be able to successfully exorcise their 2007 demons.
The All Blacks have not been playing as well as they should be, in this World Cup campaign, for instance, having committed tons of errors and Dan Carter falling short of his usual lofty standards. But still though, they haven’t lost a game at all in this tournament and they are still the world’s top-ranked team. Furthermore, they still have top players, including Richie McCaw, Kieran Read and Brodie Retallick as well as the Smiths – Aaron, Conrad and Ben.
On the other hand though, despite their progression into the knockout phase, I think that the French have been playing very poorly in this World Cup campaign and it appears that they have not shown any marked improvement since their poor showing at the Six Nations tournament. While they may have won a couple of games, they have lost their last eight Test matches against the Kiwis. So I think that this time around, they are ripe for the taking – by the mighty All Blacks in this Quarter Final game.
As well, I shall continue to stick to my guns and also add that come 31 October, the All Blacks can also become the first team to successfully retain the Webb Ellis Trophy.
Prediction: New Zealand 30-12 France
2) SOUTH AFRICA VS WALES
Expect a very physical match between the two most brutal teams still remaining in the tournament.
At the moment, Wales may have more players than they would like on the injury table right now, but they have proven so far in this tournament, that they are a side that you cannot simply write off, due to their sheer resilience and tenacity.
However, that said, I think that the Springboks will still triumph by a narrow margin. Though it would be nice if the underdogs manage to pull of a shocker here, I think that the quality of the Springboks should see them through. This match-up against Wales will give them a fine opportunity to do what they relish – which is physically beating up other teams, and the selection at centre has also been eased by the injury to their captain, Jean de Villiers.
Prediction: South Africa 16-10 Wales
3) IRELAND VS ARGENTINA
Though Ireland’s key players – such as Peter O’Mahony, Paul O’Connell and Johnny Sexton are out with injuries, their replacement players have been performing very well and surpassing all expectations of them, so Ireland cannot be underestimated in this tie.
Also, the Pumas knocked out Ireland in the 2007 edition of the tournament, so Ireland would also be keen to make amends and seek revenge – which can be a very powerful tool indeed. Though Argentina have improved a lot thanks to their involvement in the Rugby Championships and they have a very powerful scrummage too, I still think that Ireland can just edge this game and qualify for the semi-finals.
Prediction: Ireland 22-18 Argentina
4) AUSTRALIA VS SCOTLAND
Scotland have not been impressive so far in this tournament and are rather lucky to still be in it. For example, against Samoa, they were extremely sloppy in defence. So I fear that the Wallabies will punish them here. As they have displayed so far in the Rugby World Cup 2015, the wallabies have great attacking abilities and teamwork. They work very well together and have a good chance of making it through this tie, and into the semi-finals.
Though the Bravehearts have beaten Australia in their last two Test matches against them, I don’t really think that this will happen again this time around, unfortunately, unless Scotland gets their act together quickly.
Prediction: Australia 32-10 Scotland
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- Rugby 7s is Back in Singapore
- Brazil Exit Fifa World Cup Brazil 2014 Semi-Finals
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