The great divide widens – huge gap between NH & SH in Rugby World Cup

16 09 2007

Rugby World CupLast night there were 3 games:

  • New Zealand 108 defeated Portugal 13
  • Australia 32 defeated Wales 20
  • Ireland 14 defeated Georgia 10

The All Black dismantling of Portugal is no surprise. Verily, the only surprise in that match was that the Portuguese managed to get a try.
The Welsh losing to Australia doesn’t surprise either – was expected, and although a spirited second half saw the Dragons narrow the gap, on current form no amount of local-crowd advantage was going to help.

The Irish need more ballsBut that the Irish only just managing to beat a huge-hearted effort by Georgia is astounding. Ireland came into this World Cup with aspirations of making the semi-finals, perhaps even the final. The performance thus far of Ireland has left a lot to be desired. Eking a win out against Namibia (winning 32-17), and last night’s performance against Georgia could not have them feeling good about upcoming matches against France and Argentina.

The table was set for Ireland early, when France’s Les Bleus were defeated by Argentina. They had time to get the machinery working before they were to play the other top teams in Pool D’s “Pool of Death” – playing minnows Namibia & Georgia. But they rarely looked good against Namibia, and can consider themselves lucky to walk away with a win against Georgia, failing to get the extra point they’d so crave in this match – a point that may well end up deciding the outcome of the pool.

Georgia could have won this. A missed penalty, and 5 missed attempts at drop goals… it was a chance that went begging.

New Zealand used the match versus Portugal as an opportunity to give some of their second tier players a welcome trot on the paddock, and they did very well indeed. Disciplined & methodical, it was a rugby master-class that Northern Hemisphere teams could do well watching.
New Zealand engage each other to offer some sort of competition…

Larkham, Gregan & GiteauAustralia headed to Cardiff to play Wales (Wales & Scotland cut deals with France to play 3 games in Cardiff, and 2 games in Edinburgh), and a rugged affair it was. Finishing much of the game with 13 players – due to a moment of stupidity from Drew Mitchell, and a dubious yellow card from referee Steve Walsh to Nathan Sharpe – Wales couldn’t make much headway despite the two-man advantage. Berrick Barnes was outstanding. A late replacement for Stephen Larkham at Fly Half, his poise in only his second test was admirable.

Looking ahead to matches this week, there’s a huge clash between island nations Tonga & Samoa. Samoa will be wanting to win this won handily, setting themselves up for a clash with England that will determine who moves out of Pool A with South Africa.
Fiji & Canada have a big match as well, with Fiji having to fancy themselves as an outside chance of beating Wales when they return back to France at the end of the month – if they achieve this, they’ll move through to the elimination stage.

Thus far, the performances of Northern Hemisphere rugby look woeful, but all is not done yet, and there’s still a lot of rugby to be played. But rugby fans will have to be wondering about the growing divide between the teams from the Southern Hemisphere, and those of the Northern Hemisphere.

Still… a month and a bit out from the final: anything can happen.

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2 responses

16 09 2007
Steve

Australia vs Wales was a great game of rugby.

Today I am semi-zombified but it was worth watching.

16 09 2007
mandate

Go samoa…expect them to win the battle of the fob’s.(fresh of da boat)
Aussie played well ,if they can cut down the errors, they will win it all…

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