Rugby World Cup round up
10 October 2011, 12:34
After another entertaining weekend of world cup rugby there is still no team that stands out above the rest and like this weekend I won’t be surprised if next weekend serves up another “favourite” under cooked.
The pressure is on, no one wants to come up short after having come this far.
Wales v France
Despite only playing for 50 minutes France put on a fantastic display of their skills to upset England who really had no answers in the first half and were frustrated into a 19-12 defeat after 80 minutes. Wales put on a workman like display to beat Ireland 22-10. Wales for me was also the favourite going in having had the tough defeat against South Africa and having played physically tougher opponents in their group. Rhys Priestland will definitely be a man to watch against France who might have peaked against England having delivered the upset they always promise every world cup.
France is now the only team out of 2007 group of semi-finalists to re-visit this stage of the draw. Wales make a well deserved return to a semi-final berth based on hard work and executing the right options at the right time. Ireland passed up three kickable penalties before taking the fourth one.
You cannot pass up points in a knockout situation as these regrettable decisions proved fatal. I think the Irish were a tad over confident or somewhat naive to pass up points so early in a do or die match up. What were the seasoned Irish veterans, Ronan O’Gara and Brian O’Driscoll thinking? I don’t think French flare will outclass the yeoman like “though shall not pass” Welsh defense and tactical awareness.
Wales made a massive 141 tackles, only missing 11 and coughed up the ball a miserly 3 times.
The French don’t have an 80 minute game in their arsenal which will be exposed sooner or later.
Wales are my favourite to progress to the finals.
Australia v New Zealand
Australia defeated South Africa (11-9) in a far from convincing performance.
It was like watching a really bad B Grade action movie where the hero/winner (Australia) who is an underdog given the circumstances, survives to walk away untouched and unscathed after the bad guys (South Africa) threw everything including the kitchen sink at the unimpressive vanquisher who fired a pistol at their machine guns?
Quade Cooper again failed to impress, he has not played well thus far and will be very lucky to make the team next week.
I still think he has immense talent but needs to at least put on a solid performance. Ireland and now South Africa have starved him and Genia of space with an in your face approach causing missed passes, knock on’s, charge downs and poor decision making. Genia did play better than Cooper taking some pressure of him but made a lot of unforced errors which is unlike him. Teams have targeted both of them, they need to step up and counter if they want to progress to the finals.
Robbie Deans can be thankful he has a player like Berrick Barnes to take the pressure off Cooper. The problem is you have to start with Pat McCabe; his presence on defense is immense. You can’t drop him so Deans has to decide which player to bench next week and it’s not looking good for Cooper.
Knock on’s, forward passes, missed kicks, missing players verses David Pocock, Bryce Lawrence, repetitive ruck and maul infringements amongst other things made for an statistical anomaly come the final whistle. When a team like South Africa brings pressure to bear on any team like they did against the Wallabies they invariably win the game but every time they looked like scoring something went unbelievably wrong.
I’m sure this game will be analysed and discussed for weeks and maybe years to come but the score will remain the same. People will rejoice as Pieter De Villiers steps down only to leave the hope and expectations of South African’s to weigh heavily on another mortal mans shoulders. What is clear about this and the last World Cup is that South Africa was behind the team but not the coach. The coach clearly needs to be the best man for the job as a point of departure. Both Jake White and Peter De Villiers were overly criticised for not being experienced enough for the job immediately putting a cloud over their appointments.
Jake White did however bring back a RWC irrespective who South Africa played to win it or his embattled relationships with the media and SARFU. New Zealand were tested for the best part of 65 minutes against Argentina. Argentina played well but weren’t good enough and definitely not as good as they were in 2007. New Zealand haven’t really given a stellar performance yet and they conceded a try to Argentina before scoring one. If they allow a stronger team to take a lead and get a foothold in a closely contested game, the game might not come back to them.
The All Black defence is also questionable, especially after multiple phases of play; Australia will be looking to attack a lot more than they did on Sunday against the Boks.
Aaron Cruden settled in nicely after Slade was injured giving the All Blacks some confidence after losing Carter initially.
McCaw needs to make it through another game with his dodgy foot. Slade and Muliaina are both sidelined with injury making way for Luke Donald and Hosea Gear.
This game will be a close call. Australia might be feeling worse for wear but that won’t stifle them after clearly receiving a reprieve from a determined South African onslaught.
They will go into Sunday’s game with a lot of confidence. Without a doubt this will be New Zealand’s toughest game in the tournament so far.
They will hold home ground advantage and still have the tag of favourites despite not being fully tested yet.
Having the benefit of the likes of Bryce Lawrence being slated for his “poor” performance this week, all eyes will be on Pocock come Sunday.
New Zealand will have to adapt their approach if Pocock is allowed to continue with his questionable poaching methods giving McCaw further license to do what he does best.
New Zealand can only be favourites by a whisker.
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