All Blacks, Springboks to take the honours this weekend
CAPE TOWN – Rugby writer Wynona Louw shares her predictions for the weekend's Rugby World Cup semifinals:
New Zealand vs England
No amount of mind games or “there’s no pressure on us, mate” will win this one for England.
Sure, Eddie Jones’ team might be the All Blacks’ toughest opponents yet at the World Cup, but the Kiwis should be able to just do more when these two teams meet tomorrow.
While England dismantled Australia in the quarter-finals, the Wallabies did themselves absolutely no favours and anybody who reads any more than a paragraph into that performance should reconsider. The All Blacks have tactical nous. They have almost instinctive support play. Their pack needs no description and they have Aaron Smith behind them.
WATCH VIDEO HERE
That scrumhalf can cut any team down to size with his play around the fringes, and it’s going to be a big feature this weekend
Among the other backs, well, let me just say this - having either Beauden Barrett or Richie Mo’unga among your backs makes you automatically stinking rich when it comes to rugby wealth, having both of them - as will again be the case tomorrow - is almost unfair. Besides all that skill and balling ability, the All Blacks have that killer instinct. And that, combined with their ability to just keep going, will give them the edge.
All Blacks to win by 13 points
Springboks vs Wales
The Springboks were far from their best in the opening half against Japan in their quarter-final last week, but Wales were far from their best right throughout their match against France. Simply put, they didn’t deserve to win that game. They shouldn’t have won.
But those results won’t mean much on Sunday. Yes, Wales are a team that plays within their structures. They have a strong aerial game and they know how to force the opposition into making mistakes before capitalising on those fumbles, but the Boks will pose great challenges for the Welsh as well.
WATCH VIDEO HERE
Their lineout has been huge while in Japan - they have won 57/57, and there have been a few steals as well. Their scrum has been a thing of beauty at times, and in the second half against the Brave Blossoms, the Bok forwards again showed why they are considered such a force. There is also that tight five on the bench, one that any country would be lucky to consider first-choice.
But it doesn’t end with the big boys - I reckon the backs will have a lot of say in how Sunday’s fixture goes. Looking at the likes of Makazole Mapimpi, S’bu Nkosi, Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am - a quartet that brings speed, power, X-factor, top game-reading ability and gainline prowess - the Boks have more than enough ammo to pounce.
That just might be what it comes down to once the work has been done up front. Oh, and don’t forget about Herschel Jantjies and what he can do once he leaves the bench.
Boks to win by 14