We have the first semi final booked and ready to go, after England knocked out Australia and New Zealand cleaned up Ireland, it leaves us to see the victors go again, England vs New Zealand, for a place in the grand final. The second day of the quarter final weekend has Wales taking on France and hosts Japan looking to shock South Africa again. Will the favourites win on day two? Let’s take a look at todays two quarterfinal matchups.
Wales vs France
A settled Welsh side look set for another big tests in the Rugby World Cup, after toppling Australia during pool play now they must face up against France. Wales have looked a solid side who are consistently playing at a good level during the tournament. The Welsh know their best starting fifteen and when it comes to crunch time they know the guys who will get the job done, just as this starting lineup achieved against the Wallabies during pool play. It features a hard hitting tight five, mobile back row, quick thinking halves and a creative midfield with exciting finishers in the backs. Keep an eye on Josh Adams who has had an eye for tries during the tournament. I have been very impressed with the cameos of Rhys Patchell off the bench for Wales, his fresh legs often lifts the Welsh is the finishing stanza of a match and could be a game changer late on.
France missed out on their big chance to make a statement with the match against England cancelled due to the typhoon. Argentina pushed them to the brink at the start of the tournament but since then it’s been plain sailing for the French. They are going to need something special and new against a team they play often enough each year in the Six Nations. Whilst the refs have been a bit more lenient in the finals as opposed to pool play, France will still need to keep their discipline in check to give them hope, any time a man day will be critical. Unlike their opponents, France have a far from settled side for this clash. What am I excited to see is Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack running things in the halves, they have some serious talent. Unsurprisingly, Alivereti Raka has been left out of the French 23 following his erratic displays in recent games. Yoann Huget, Damian Penaud and Maxime Medard will look to set the game alight from the back if they feel like running. The back row could also tell the tale of this game, Gregory Alldritt steals the number eight jersey off the experience Louis Picamoles. Its the usual suspect for France, Gael Fickou, the man to watch. I expect these two sides will play a similar style, but Wales look far more capable at controlling the basics of the game, whereas France will commit too many errors and punish themselves with silly penalties.
RESULTS = Wales by 5
Japan vs South Africa
The rematch every rugby fan has been waiting for. Take a shot every time someone mentions Brighton, we will hear it a lot today. You cant plan this stuff, the likelihood of Japan topping the pool was wild, then to meet the Springboks again…. freakish. I talked a lot about settled lineups, most sides this deep in the tournament should have this by now and we see exactly that by both the sides for this quarterfinal. Both teams have made one subtle change, for the Brave Blossoms it comes at the very back where Will Tupou will move his way out of the 23 to allow Ryohei Yamanaka to take the fullback role and Lomano Lemeki to take the final spot on the bench. Isileli Nakajima was outstanding against Scotland off the bench and I am expecting another big outing by the big prop. A big number of ball carries which all made their way over the gain line, plays like that will be so important for the hosts. Japan will want to match where the Springboks are strongest to allow their set piece some room to work, that’s where the leadership in the back row, the battle of captains, Michael Leitch going head to head with Siya Kolisi at six. Shota Horie and Kazuki Himeno have been the standout forwards for Japan and the return of Kenki Fukuoka has given Tim Lafaele and Ryoto Nakamura even more danger to work with in the backs, which they excelled at over this World Cup.
The Springboks must plan for this looking forward. There’s no advantage to them considering the past results despite the fact of a number of players from four years ago are still in the team. The game plan must be simply, play to your strengths. Dominate the pack and control the set piece. After being the favored second row partner to Eben Etzebeth over the tournament, Franco Mostert finds himself on the outer for this game, being one of the six forwards on the bench. Starting instead will be another brute, Lood de Jager. So obvious is the Springboks game plan, media outlets have been making fun of Rassie Erasmus, claiming he would pick eight forward reserves if he could. The contrasting game styles will be exciting to watch, Japan with its exciting backline and South Africa with its brutal forward pack. More than ever, defence will be key. Can the Brave Blossoms packs stand up to the heat? Will the Springboks back defence handle the sparks? We will see all tonight!
RESULT = South Africa by 4
I will be streaming during the fourth quarter final today, so if you want to come have a chat during the game, check out my YouTube channel! I will have predictions DAILY for the Rugby World Cup! So make sure to subscribe to the page for updates when a new predictions goes live or check back each day for the next days matches. Who is your pick? Lets me know in the comments below and as always, thanks for stopping by Behind The Posts!