Riddle me this: Who are the Bunnies in the RWC?

28 09 2007

A man who now needs no introduction…

Round 4 Preview

Riddler?  One-eyed All Black fan!
Well the final round robin round begins this week. After a lack-lustre effort, many of the six nation sides face the unenviable prospect of elimination in the pool stage. An embarrassing situation to say the least for most of them. Meanwhile the SH tri nation powerhouses have all locked up top spots with Argentina hot favourites to complete the SH pool winners clean sweep.

Onto the games and the first one is a ripper…

Jonny - a target? England vs Tonga
Jonny is back… but England are still crap. Tonga on the other hand have been an absolute revelation at this tournament. They beat the Yanks, beat Samoa in a game many thought they would lose and came within 5 points of beating the South Africans. England on the other hand struggled past the US, got walloped and left pointless against the South Africans and managed to overcome Samoa very late in their game. On current form Tonga deserve to start favourite here. They have been far more impressive. But the English will likely get over the line here due to a more structure forward pack and the boot of Jonny Wilkinson. This will be no walk in the park with huge stakes for both sides. Winner here goes through to the quarter finals against Australia. Although it pains me to say so, I think England might get the job done here but by no more than 10 points.

New Zealand vs Romania
One way traffic expected in this game despite fielding their B side. Dependant upon how switched on they are the margin could be anything from 60 to 150 points. Given this will be the last game for many to impress and sneak into the top 22 for the finals we could see a bit of venom from some players, rticularly the wingers. At the end of the day though I think the margin might be around 80 points here to the All Blacks.

Skipper for a day… George Smith Australia vs Canada
Last hit out for the Aussie’s before a quarter final to England or Tonga. With injury concerns to a few key players and having top spot wrapped up already I don’t think they will be playing too strong a side here. They will be more concerned with coming through this unscathed rather than racking up the points. Reckon around a 30 point victory here.

Wales vs Fiji
The Welsh and the Fijians square off to see who faces South Africa in a quarter final. Looking at the form to date of these two, hard to go past the Welsh. Despite being smashed by the Aussies in the first half, they showed a ton of fight in the second half. They are more structured around the scrum and set pieces and should have to much discipline here. Wales to run out winner by around 15-20 points

Scotland vs Italy
This one is played on neutral turf. Both sides are pretty ordinary and
Italy did dispose of Scotland in the six nations. This is the one both of them have pencilled down as the key game and I think the Italians might have too much class here. Should be a tight contest but Italy to get across the line here by around 5 points.

France vs Georgia
The Georgians have been playing great this world cup and their effort against Namibia was just reward. France disposed of Ireland easily last week and look to be gaining momentum. This will be an interesting game in can France score 4 tries. They sit 4 points adrift of Argentina and they must score four tries to have any hope of topping their group. Pretty much expect France to do this and pray for a big Irish win to avoid the All Blacks in the quarter finals.

Contepomi Ireland vs Argentina
Without doubt a very important game. Argentina can top their group or can finish as low as third. Ireland need a huge victory to avoid leaving the tournament altogether. This will be a test of what Ireland is made of. To date though all they have shown is that they are made of wet tissue paper at best. Ireland need to win by 8 or more and score four tries. They couldn’t manage that against Georgia so doing it against the form side of the World Cup will be an enormous ask. One far too great for them. I can’t see them qualifying on that basis. However they can still shape the fate of this group. If they win by 8 or more then they could hand the French top spot in this group and force the Argentinean’s into a battle with the All Blacks in the quarter final. The Argentinean’s will know if they stay within 7 they will face Scotland/Italy in the quarters and I cant see them letting this opportunity slip. I can’t see them losing this game. Argentina by 10-15 points for me.

South Africa vs USA
Should be a mere training drill for the Boks. No doubt their coach would have laid into them after last weeks game against Tonga so they might have a little bit of venom. South Africa by 50 here.

Who will hoist Bill in the air?Well the quarters will be decided this week. New Zealand, Australia and South Africa will all find out their opponents and the potential for some huge upsets are on the cards. England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland all face the prospect of embarrassing exits and this could be the blackest weekend in the history of rugby for the six nation sides. We could see up to 6 SH teams advance to the finals this week. In all likelihood it will be 4 of each but the prospect is certainly amusing from a SH perspective.

Here’s to a great weekend of rugby. May the minnows stand tall.

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