The waiting is nearly over and the Rugby World Cup is upon us. Here are my predictions for the first group of 8 games.
Before we get into that here is a link to my tournament preview.
England v Fiji
The opening game with all the extra attention that brings can affect players in strange ways. I hope that both teams have done their homework and prepared the players because there will be much more going on before the game than normal. Fiji have already said that they aren’t here to make up the numbers and will be looking to make a statement. England know they need to start this Rugby World Cup in top form for the result and also to galvanise the nation. The forward pack has stuttered as has the bench but I still think England will win it by a couple of scores.
England by 15
Tonga v Georgia
I think that this will be the closest game of the opening weekend. It’s going to be a contrast of styles with Georgia’s pack against Tonga’s backs. This is a stereotype but if you look at Georgia’s squad their forwards play in France and backs in Georgia. Tonga’s set piece will be better having been together longer, but they will see the advantage they hold in the backs and use it.
Tonga by 7
Ireland v Canada
Canada have been disappointing in the buildup to this tournament. This has been attributed to their late qualification for the Olympics and reconditioning of players. Ireland have stumbled a bit recently but will win this one comfortably. The main point of interest is if Ireland will show their hand a bit or keep playing within themselves.
Ireland by 20
South Africa v Japan
The Boks and Japan are two more sides that haven’t had the perfect run up to this competition. I trust Eddie Jones will have Japan ready. Even with their improved scrum I still think they will struggle with South Africa’s physicality. This is South Africa’s most experienced side with 880 caps and they should win this comfortably.
South Africa by 20
France v Italy
What should be one of the most interesting games of the round looks predicable. Italy have been poor recently and are struggling with injuries. France on the flip side have looked better over the last couple of games and so this should be another comfortable victory.
France by 15
Samoa v USA
When these two sides met earlier this year in the Pacific Nations Cup it was a 5 point win for Samoa. Since then Samoa have apparently sorted out their off field issues and know this is a great opportunity for them. USA have a couple of wins over Canada but nothing to suggest they’ll cause an upset here.
Samoa by 10
Wales v Uruguay
Uruguay lost 40-0 to Japan recently and points difference could be important to Wales. So it’s a question of how many and can Wales get to 100? They will have to remember to build the score and not try to play 7s too early. Still it’s going to be one way traffic.
Wales by 85
New Zealand v Argentina
For all the talk of the dangerous Pumas, they have been disappointing except for that game in South Africa. So they could ambush the All Blacks but are they going to be able to rouse the emotion to do it? Personally I don’t think so and it’ll be another comfortable win.
New Zealand by 21
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