Riddle me this: The Riddler’s take on the weekend’s matches in the RWC

25 09 2007

Riddler?  One-eyed All Black fan!Well no surprises with the week 3 winners. Wins went pretty much by the book. Only real surprise of the week was the great effort Tonga put in against the Springboks, almost pulling off the upset of the tournament.

On to the wrap up…

France vs Ireland
Without a doubt heads will roll in Irish rugby. This is a team who twelve months ago was touted as the one to challenge the All Blacks hardest. Nowadays though, they can barely fight their way out of a wet paper bag. They are now all but gone after a humiliating loss to the French. They need to score 4 tries and win by 8 or more against the Argentineans who are the only side in the competition to not have conceded a try yet. As for the French they have all but guaranteed a quarter final berth, with a 4 try win over Georgia guaranteeing this. However second place and a quarter final against the All Blacks looks a virtual certainty as Argentina would have to not score a single point in their clash with Ireland for the Fench to top this group. As for the game, it was a lack-luster affair. The French didn’t look flash and if they turned it on they could have routed the pitiful Irish by 50. It’s sayonara to the Irish and with the way they have played this tournament, good riddance to bad rubbish.

South Africa vs Tonga
What an effort by the Tongans. They came so close to rolling the Saffers here! Without trying to take anything away from the Tongans though, I think South Africa will be very disappointed by this performance. After commanding wins against Samoa and England, they took a big step backwards here. Tonga on the other hand have gone from strength to strength and should seriously test England next week. They play like they did against South Africa and they should beat the English. South Africa has wrapped this group up and look like playing the Welsh in the quarters but second spot and who faces Aussie in the quarters is wide open with Tonga and England both strong contenders.

England vs Samoa
Jonny’s back! But the English are still a long way off looking like a contender. The 22 point margin in the end was not a fair reflection of this game with the Samoan still within a converted try with 10 to go. England struggled most of the game and only gained the upper hand in the last 10 minutes. Poor discipline by the Samoans cost them with Jonny punishing any infringement in their half. Although England will feel some relief by the win, they still have much work to do. Samoa on the other hand have been nothing short of disappointing this world cup and this was another ordinary effort by them. England will go into the Tonga game with some confidence from this but they are still a long way off looking a serious threat to the Aussies should they overcome Tonga.

Los Pumas…Argentina vs Namibia
Another day at the office for Argentina who arguably are the form team of the tournament now. They have play 3 times and have yet to concede a try. They lead their group by 4 points and only need to finish within 7 of the Irish to guarantee top spot and a quarter final clash against Scotland/Italy. Given the form of the Irish, this should be a mere formality and they will likely run out winners in that clash. Nothing much to say about Namibia. They have their big game against Georgia in a few days and on form, the Georgians look the better side. Might be another fruitless world cup for them.

Australia vs Fiji
Aussie Rugby… Pretty much the result expected here. Australia were far too polished for the Fijians. With this win they now have an unassailable lead of this group and are set to meet the winner of the England Tonga game in the quarters. Fiji now have Wales to look forward to and from their performance I cannot see them getting over the line against the Welsh. That game will decide who’s to be the runner up in this group.

New Zealand vs Scotland

A very ugly game. All Blacks look anything but impressive. Sivivatu played the worst game I have seen him play and the ball handling was horrendous. Only real positive from this game was the defensive effort, leaving the Scots scoreless. Not much fluency in this game but a lot of that can probably be put down to the players not being able to tell whether they were passing to their team mate or the opposition. The choice of uniforms this day was an absolute disgrace. New Zealand wore grey as their black uniform is hard to distinguish with the dark blue of Scotland. So what did Scotland do? They wore grey as well instead of their traditional dark blue. It was hard enough distinguishing the two sides watching on TV so I can only imagine the difficulty facing the
players on the field. Biggest highlight of the game was Dougie Howlett
notching tries 47 & 48 and becoming NZ’s leading all time try scorer. Well done Dougie, and here’s hoping you bring up 50 in this tournament.

Rugby World Cup Another week of Southern Hemisphere dominance. The three tri nation sides all guaranteed themselves top spot in their group with unassailable leads. In the other group, Argentina has all but wrapped up top spot, need just one point from its clash with Ireland. A Southern Hemisphere clean sweep of the pool groups looks a mere formality now. Although the winners are guaranteed, the second places are still well up for grabs. In Pool A England and Tonga clash. A draw by Tonga would be enough to get them through on points difference. England though will be the likely favourite here with their more experienced pack.

In Pool B Wales and Fiji square off and have to go with the Welsh here, given their form is more impressive against the same opponents as Fiji.

In Pool C Scotland and Italy square off and a tough one to call although the Scottish must be favoured slightly here. Pool D will see France finish second unless an unlikely 8+ win by Ireland over Argentina occurs. This will mean South Africa vs Wales/Fiji, Australia vs England/Tonga, New Zealand vs France and Argentina vs Scotland/Italy loom as the quarter final clashes with the four Southern Hemisphere sides likely to be strong favourites in all four encounters.

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2 responses

25 09 2007

it was pure hubris for the boks to start their b-side against tonga and i wish the islanders had pulled the upset. the boks should have remembered their 18-3 victory over connacht as a warning about starting weak sides.

it also interests me how the tri-nations like argentina when they do well internationally but have no time for them during other competitions, eg super 14.

25 09 2007

also for all of the talk about england’s poor form ireland is now the most pathetic side of the home nations. that performance against france was execrable. hopefully o’gara had the sense to wager on france…

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