CAPE TOWN – Rugby writer Wynona Louw shares her predictions for this weekend's Rugby World Cup quarter-final action from Japan.
England vs Australia
Australia’s record against England is one thing, but apart from that, I can’t really see a simmering England, who will be well-rested after their game against France was cancelled, losing to Australia tomorrow. But, if there’s one thing the Australians can do well, it’s tournament rugby.
The Wallabies are going to have to start well and keep at it for 80 minutes.
Will the Wallabies be able to cope and fight back if England employ a high-pressure, territorial game? I don’t know. But that’s certainly going to be one of the deciding factors in this game. Also, Australia are going to have to make sure that they secure set-piece ball and challenge the English physically. I do think Australia can push England, and while I feel Eddie Jones’ charges will win this one, I wouldn’t completely write the Wallabies off.
England to win by 7 points
New Zealand vs Ireland
It’s hard to imagine the defending champions not taking this one.
New Zealand might have had a more temperate season, but these guys know when to step up, and I just don’t think a “we’ve beaten them before” mentality from Ireland is going to be enough to cause what would be probably the biggest upset in rugby World Cup history tomorrow. Besides, this just isn’t the same Ireland team of 2018. The Kiwis are packing in all major departments, and looking at what Ireland could come at them with, an attempt to outmuscle Steve Hansen’s team isn’t likely to work out for Joe Schmidt’s players. There’s just too much class in this All Black squad, and if you look at the form one of their key men, Beauden Barrett, has been in, luck seems even less likely for the Irish.
New Zealand to win by 25
Wales vs France
You can’t come into a World Cup knockout match having played about one half of decent rugby in three outings and expect to have a chance against Wales. But, on the other hand, it’s France we’re talking about, and their one good game could just be this one. Les Bleus have some amazing talent, but that talent has seldom seemed as wasted as now.
For Wales, centre Jonathan Davies and flyhalf Dan Biggar have been cleared to play, and there can be no doubt as to how big a role these two will play, especially Biggar. The French are an interesting bunch. They beat Wales 9-8 in the World Cup semi-finals in 2011 after a player revolt. And now, after threats of a similar uprising, we might see this work out for them in a weird way on Sunday. You never know.
Wales to win by 10
South Africa vs Japan
Japan have been hot, no doubt about that, but this is where it ends for them.
That sizzling form has seen the hosts climb to their highest-ever spot on the rankings (seventh), and their run to the knockout round included impressive wins over Ireland and Scotland.
Their running game has been lethal, and their offloads and handling no less. They have truly been a World Cup highlight. But there will be no fairy tales playing out in Tokyo on Sunday. The Boks just come with more - a rampaging pack, outside backs who can punish any team and halfbacks who will be eager to prove why they belong in those starting spots. The Boks’ guaranteed set-piece dominance is going to be another weapon in their artillery, and their linespeed is something they can smother the hosts with if they keep the intensity up as the game goes on.
Springboks to win by 20
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