One of the most interesting international tournaments in this World Cup year, a bunch of sides on the fringe that could cause an upset to the established order. They also don’t get much coverage so here is a good chance to get a look at them and here are my round 1 predictions.
First here is a link to my tournament preview/predictions.
Fiji v Tonga
Fiji have won the last three games between these countries and have had a run out against the New Zealand Maori to blow away the cobwebs. Nadolo’s recovery will be very important both for his running with ball but also goal kicking. Even if he can’t take the pitch everything is tipped in Fiji’s favour. They are the home side and have had a warmup game. Following Twitter, Tonga look to have had a good training camp running up to this but you can’t take away that they are the visitors and have not played together since November.
Fiji by 15
Canada v Japan
We are due a draw but I’m not brave enough to predict that. If you look at the past results it’s gone draw, Japan victory, Japan victory, draw, Japan victory, Japan victory. So as I say we are due a draw. The gaps have narrowed but Japan come off the back of a successful Asian 5 Nations and it’s a question of how much are they holding back for the Rugby World Cup? This is Canada’s first run out and so I expect them to be rusty but to stay in touch.
Japan by 7
USA v Samoa
It’s been a while since these two faced each other as Samoa missed the Pacific Nations Cup two years ago and they were in different pools last year. So we don’t have past results of go on but there are 7 places separating the sides in the world rankings. Add in to that Samoa have had a run-out against the All Blacks and the only thing in the USA’s favour is the location. This should be a fairly routine victory for the Islanders, I have gone for a couple of scores but it could be more if the USA don’t click and show the lack of recent game time.
Samoa by 15