What once promised as a very big day of the Rugby World Cup has since turned into a huge fight over the decision World Rugby has made and if cancelling two matches from day nineteen due to Typhoon Hagibis is the right decision. Regardless of everyone’s opinion, New Zealand and Italy wont meet and neither will England and France. As things stand, Ireland and Samoa will still go ahead so at least we have one game to look forward to and it’s pretty big for pool A.
New Zealand vs Italy – Pool B
Sergio Parisse is not a happy man and has voiced his heavy displeasure about this match being cancelled, claiming if the All Blacks had needed the points to qualify for the finals, it still would have gone ahead. Italy feel they still have a chance to take that runner up spot by gaining a victory over New Zealand. Many media outlets are also claiming that New Zealand had the choice to play the match and decided they were not in favor of the fixture. Both situations I find hard to believe given World Rugby’s decision would have only been influenced by the weather patterns. But we shall never know the truth to those claims and only that, sadly, this match will not go ahead. Sorry Sergio, it’s sad to see you go without that final harrar for such a legend of Italian rugby but all rugby fans truly do appreciate what your have given to the game.
RESULT = 0-0 Draw
England vs France – Pool C
Only the Italians think there was anything on the line in that opening cancelled game but this second cancelled match had much more to play for. The winner and runner up of pool C would have been decided by this match and which out of Australia or Wales they would play in the quarter finals. With the draw result it will see England against Australia and Wales to take on France in the quarter finals. France would have liked their chances of taking top spot and taking on the less favored Wallabies who struggled for most of the match against Georgia yesterday. England are still to really be tested in this World Cup, Argentina blew their top early and England cruised through. Will that count against them?
RESULT = 0-0 Draw
Ireland vs Samoa – Pool A
Ah so now we finally get an actual match to preview. The struggling Irish and Samoans. Both sides will be terribly disappointed with their World Cup so far. Ireland were expected to idle their way to top of the pool and into the quarter finals to take on the runner up from pool B. Maybe they still will do that, but it will come down to if/when Japan face Scotland and they will be hoping their celtic neighbors can help them out to stay at the top. Hopefully we get that Japan v Scotland match on Sunday. Of course if Ireland slip up here and Scotland pick up the victory, it may see Ireland out of the World Cup in pool play. Pool A is an absolute joy! Only two days of action remains yet so much can still happen.
Let’s look at this Irish side and its of little surprise they are going all out, taking no risks with their selections. But will that really help, very few of their squad has hit much form. The biggest selection of form alone for me is at fullback where Jordan Larmour comes back into the lineup after a couple of average displays from Rob Kearney at the back. Ireland’s midfield has hardly been outstanding but they stick with what’s worked in the past with Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw. On the wings I think they have options, Jacob Stockdale has been brilliant and Keith Earls unlucky but hard working, with Andrew Conway a solid replacement when given time, on the bench. The tight five name themselves and have had very little competition from those on the bench to overtake the starting positions but it is the back row that has an interesting selection. Tadhg Beirne is a surprise pick to start at six, leaving Peter O’Mahony having to settle for a place on the bench. As usual the focus is on Johnny Sexton, will he survive against the Samoans usual brual defence? Will he take the ball to the line at all?
This Samoan team is fairly well settled and like the other pacific nation sides seem to be getting better as the World Cup goes on. Most of the pack springs no surprises again, they have a clear view of who the standouts are there and have gone with them again. Seilala Lam at hooker has played himself into a starting role with some great form in pool play and relegates Ray Niuia to the bench. The halves are where Samoa could make or break this game, choosing to go away from the experienced Tusi Pisi for the 25 year old Ulupano Seuteni in the ten jersey and I expect Ireland will attack this channel but from the little I have seen of Seuteni, he may well be up for this challenge. AhSee Tuala is again named on the right wing, hopefully he will be fit to start, but I am expected some fireworks out of their midfield, Henry Taefu and Alapati Leiua looked really good against Japan and need to lift again and create chances for Ed Fidow and Tuala outside them. Once again the powerful Jack Lam will captain Samoa for their final outing in the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Expect everything to be left in Japan by Samoa who will leave with no regrets, will it be enough though to upset the apple cart?
RESULT = Ireland by 11
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