After a nice little days break where we all found ourselves wonder what to do without any Rugby World Cup action, we return to three big games. It all kicks off with two sides who started their World Cup with a loss, someone will grab a win between Argentina and Tonga from Pool C. Following that. the hosts return in the big Pool A clash between Japan and top seeds Ireland. Wrapping up day eight from Pool B will be the Springboks looking for their first win against fellow Africans Namibia.
Argentina vs Tonga – Pool C
The Pumas kicked off their World Cup with a horror first half display against France that had us all writing off what Argentina could do this year. Then cue the second forty minutes and a complete contrast occurs and the Argentina we love to see appeared and should have stolen the win. They have made a number of changes for Tonga and needing a huge result against England, are clearly targeting that match. Argentinian fans will just be hoping they don’t underestimate the Tongans. Benjamin Urdapilleta gets his shot at fly half along side Tomas Cubelli. The rest of the side shows the depth of Argentina with the rotation.
Tonga have been ravaged by injuries after just one game in the World Cup and the loss of the record points scorer Kurt Morath will be a massive blow after featuring for so long in a Tongan shirt. James Faiva takes the ten role and has plenty of experience around him. Sonatane Takulua will take the reigns at scrumhalf and captain Siale Piutau I expect to get through a lot of work. Whoever can get the advantage in the forward battle between a couple of average packs will be allowed to unleash the exciting backs on both sides. I fully expect Argentina to be too good and still frustrated from the French result will be keen to lash out at the first possible opportunity.
RESULT = Argentina by 8
Japan vs Ireland – Pool A
The hosts are back in action over a week after kicking off their World Cup. They struggled in the opening half against Russia but looked much better in the second forty. They have made a few changes to their side for Ireland, as expected from an average game at fullback, Will Tupou moves to the left wing. The Japanese pack is going to be under pressure much like Scotland were and will want to be quick on the set piece to nullify the Irish advantage. They won’t have the outside advantage like they did against Russia but its still where they will want to attack. Japan should be much safer with Ryohei Yamanaka at the back and all attack needs to go through the hands of Tim Lafaele again.
England against USA was the last match of day seven and I am expecting to see a similar story from Ireland. The dominance in the pack will be where they lay the platform for this match. I do think they will be a bit more attractive in their attack than England, having more trust in their backline. I’m pleased to see Chris Farrell get a start in this game as he was very impressive against Scotland off the bench and Rob Kearney takes back his fullback role despite a solid display from Jordan Larmour. The big talking point for Ireland in this game and beyond is for a player who won’t even be playing. Jonathan Sexton missing from the 23 altogether raises the eyebrows to his current fitness levels. He was nursing a knock against Scotland and Conor Murray took the kicking duties and now we see Jack Carty start at ten in this match. Are they wrapping Sexton in cotton wool this early? Expect a forward dominated performance from Ireland today and an routine victory.
RESULT = Ireland by 19
South Africa vs Namibia – Pool B
The Springboks focus has been dominated by the All Blacks game, now that’s over this pool is just going to cruise the top teams to the quarter finals. But of course, the is still work to do. Losing that opening game, much like the Argentinians earlier, will make them more desperate and determined to get the results back on track. They have made a whole host of changes for this match with only two names keeping their place in the starting 15. It’s a big opportunity for the squad players to get into the World Cup and maybe put some pressure on the starters. There’s only one interesting selection I’d like to point out, which is Schalk Brits who is not only captaining the side but also starting at number eight. How’s that for versatile? Another interesting selection is THREE Jantjies on the field all playing in the halves. Two for the Springboks (Herschel and Elton) and one for Namibia (Eugene), a joy for the commentators.
Namibia showed some great passion in their opener against Italy, managing to score 22 points will be a highlight for their World Cup. Now to line up against a fellow African nation should lift this side even more. Realistically their chances of winning are next to none, an upset of this size would be ten times bigger than Japan and Uruguay put together. They need to build on the performance against Italy, looking at stats they had a solid match. Set piece went well, they created plenty of chances and even tackled at a decent success rate, a lot of goals within the game they can target. Like the Springboks, Namibia have made a host of changes also but I’m looking at Adriaan Booysen and Chad Plato to stand out and of course captain Tjiuee Uanivi to lead this side passionately again.
RESULTS = South Africa by 35
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