We were greeted with multiple shocks throughout the group stages, and in the quarter-finals, we got another surprise – with not a single Northern Hemisphere team making it through. This is the first time ever, in the history of the tournament that something like this has ever happened – in what is proving to be a very entertaining Rugby World Cup tournament.
And now, this weekend, we will see two mouth-watering semi-final games taking place. Here are my predictions on who will make it through to the final – and who will end up in the 3rd/4th place playoff.
New Zealand v South Africa
In the quarter-final stages, the All Blacks produced the performance of the tournament, with a scintillating victory over France – scoring nine tries over the hapless and helpless Frenchmen, demolishing them 62 points to 13 in the process. It was a very memorable victory indeed for the All Blacks, as well as a major warning sign for anyone who is facing them in the last two stages of the tournament.
On the other hand, South Africa did quite well in the group stages to come back after a shocking defeat to Japan – but I would admit that they had been pretty lucky to get past Wales in their own Quarter-final match, having scored the winning try only within the final six minutes of the game.
So against the resurgent All Blacks, I can’t see the Springboks having much chance. The men in black are simply too good and too dominant. If the Kiwis play the same as they did against the Frenchmen, then I can smell a resounding victory for New Zealand here. The only thing that can possibly prevent the Kiwis from lifting the Webb Ellis Cup at this stage, is overconfidence – and I certainly do not think that this is going to happen to them.
History also points to an All Blacks victory. In recent meetings between these two sides, the Kiwis have won six out of seven times.
Prediction: New Zealand 45-10 South Africa
Australia v Argentina
I can’t help thinking that this match should be Scotland against Argentina, and not Australia against Argentina. The Wallabies really rode on their luck – and dumped Scotland out of the tournament in the quarter-final stages, thanks to a rather controversial last-minute penalty. And up to that point in time during the game, Scotland had actually been in the lead.
But that said, Australia performed really well in the group phases, while Argentina had hardly impressed and many had thought they were there to make up the numbers, in the quarter-finals. So the way that the Pumas played, to dismiss the favourite, Ireland, in a convincing manner, really made everyone sit up and turn heads.
Don’t forget too, that Australia’s Number Eight, David Pocock is injured with a calf strain, and the Wallabies will certainly be sweating on whether he can make a recovery in time for this key match.
The Argentineans are gunning to make their first-ever Rugby World Cup final. And the Australians are aiming to stake their place in the final for the fourth time.
So who will prevail in this make-or-break game?
If you ask me, I think that Argentina, the underdog, has a chance to shock the favourite, Australia – in this tie. I think that the Pumas can make history and qualify for the Rugby World Cup Final, in a tight and closely-fought game – where they will come up against a resurgent All Blacks, who will be hell-bent on successfully defending their trophy.
Prediction: Australia 28-32 Argentina