Well my RWC predictions have ended up only being partly right but I got my wish that there would be upsets to make it a far more interesting competition. The most impressive thing for me has been the re-emergence of both Wales and Ireland who are playing brilliant attacking rugby and tactically mature and composed rugby respectively.
Well so what did I guess and what has occurred?
|1: Winner C v Runner Up D||Aus v Samoa||Ireland v Wales|
|2 Winner B v Runner Up A||Eng v France||Eng v France|
|3: Winner D v Runner Up C||SA v Ireland||SA v Aus|
|4: Winner A v Runner Up B||NZ v Argentina||NZ v Argentina|
Well I got both Quarter Final 2 and 4 correct, Quarter Final 3 partly correct and totally off the mark in QF 1. Well there is nothing like having the ability to laugh at yourself on trying to predict the future so let me set myself up for another round of ridicule and preview the Quarter Finals.
Quarter Final 1: Ireland v Wales
Did I ever get these two sides wrong and I’ll be frank here. In Aus we generally get to see SWA of the NH teams play. If we are lucky we can pick up the odd game on ESPN (where I saw Ireland deny Eng this year’s grand slam in the 6 Nations see the Nike media youtube promotion and its rip off posted by Irishcure) or a 10 second match review on the news. While during the in-bound test season we see an injury ravaged side at the end of their season that generally gets spanked. We really only see the NH sides when the SH tour up north (if of course the rights have been bought).
Ireland has played some great rugby so far this tournament. Mature, confident, direct and very controlled. The amount of niggle that Italy threw at them in the last pool game of the RWC, would have had most teams involved in an all in brawl but the remained composed and eventually put them to the sword on the score board. I’m expecting a certain Italian hooker to be spending serious time on the sideline after that eye gouging.
Wales to me have been the form team of the tournament. Damn but they look good. I’m starting to be very thankful that the Wallabies lost to Ireland. They are playing with a huge amount of confidence and I still think they were robbed against South Africa.
Prediction this is very very tough to call. I’m going to take a punt and state that Wales will get this as I think that their attack is better than the Irish. But hell there is nothing in this so Wales by 2.
Quarter Final 2: England v France
But let’s be honest here France are exceptionally lucky to be there as they enter the final series as the only side with two losses against the ledger in the pool play. Huge congratulations to the Tongan side that was sensational against les Bleus. The 19-14 (that last minute try by the French flattered that effort) win by Tonga is cemented in the history books. I’m still expecting England to win that semi-final despite being pushed all the way by both Argentina and Scotland. England will not be helped by the media expectations, Armitage’s potential suspension after a high shot, Tindall & Wilkinson’s injury and well stupid behaviour off-field.
I just think that the French have got themselves into a huge hole with disharmony. I just think that the French players, media and supporters have had enough of their coach and he will be used as the scapegoat to allow the loss.
Prediction England by 8.
Quarter Final 3: SA v Aus
Well South Africa are very lucky not to be playing Ireland. They were exceptionally lucky in some of the calls they received against both Wales and Samoa. The side now has the captain on the bench, injuries are starting to ravage the side and the loss of Steyn denies them a full back with the best kick in the business. SA is though blessed(?) with arguably the most interesting coach at the RWC, for example his comments about Habana, "The one guy that he misses is the guy in the mirror," said De Villiers. WTF? Has he been tested for illegal substances lately? He is entertaining to the rest of us, but I’m not 100% sure how he helps his team.
Yes, they ended up winning all their pool games in the “pool of death” but there is something missing in the side.
Well Aus are suffering injuries galore at the RWC and look very shaky. The decision not to have a backup 7 still stuns me and I think the fact that Hogdson has been called up to replace Palu is a recognition that it was a mistake. Having Pocock injured exposed a huge hole in the side that has been suggested will cost Aus the RWC. The injured players are returning but the loss of Mitchell who was discovering form compounds the unsettled nature of the side.
Prediction: For me playing SA has no fear. The Wallabies have a great record against SA especially lately. The wallabies by 8-12.
Quarter Final 4: NZ v Argentina
Well did anyone else hear that collective cry of anguish in the rugby force when 4 million kiwis broke down when they found out that Dan Carter had torn his groin? Suddenly the RWC has opened up and the bookies have rectified their odds on the winner. NZ have looked good up till now, lethal in fact. Until now every kiwi had managed to reign in that little piece of brain that has the nagging self-doubting message about sucking at RWC. But with the news of Carter being out, ask a kiwi a question about their chances at RWC and you can instantly see that the reign has broken. Suddenly not so confident.
Argentina has had more than their share of injuries and this has left the side weakened too. Their narrow loss to England and their last gasp win against Scotland has them performing bloody well at another RWC. I have been less impressed with their attack this RWC but they have grit and determination that many other sides have not exhibited.
Prediction: I think the AB’s will win but they will find this game far harder than anything they have played so far in this competition. The Pumas will want to put on one hell of a show against the kiwi’s to prove that they deserve to be in the new Tri-Nations comp (what is this called). This is going to potentially blow out at the end but I believe the AB’s by about 10-15.
Now once again I hope I’m wrong (except for Quarter Final 3).