Their tournaments may be over but for the two losing semi finalists, there is still one more game to be played. New Zealand and Wales will take part in the game that no one wants to play, the bronze playoff match, which decides third and fourth place. This games always more of a case of who wants to show up….
New Zealand vs Wales – Bronze Playoff
This is not where the All Blacks seen themselves this weekend, but after being completely outplayed by the English, here they are. This will be the last we see of a lot of older players as well, but it’s good to see they will get that final run out, albeit without a trophy. Ben Smith, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams and Kieran Read will all start in their final All Black appearance. Could their experience made a difference last weekend, we will never know. Steve Hansen has finally accepted to playing an actual blindside flanker for once, Shannon Frizzell getting the start that has never looked likely during the playoffs. You can expect one thing from New Zealand, they don’t want to play test match rugby here, they will want to find that joy in the game that was lost last weekend. Counter attack and running rugby will be on show and you just never know who else might be appearing for the final time as the southern hemisphere off season looms….
Wales were fantastic again South Africa last weekend, but that will be of little consolation to them. Playing again just 5 days on has seen big changes in their side also, both props Nicky Smith and Dillon Lewis come in, Adam Beard join his captain in the second row, James Davies joins a shuffled back row, there’s a new halves combination Tomos Williams and Rhys Patchell, Owen Watkin returns to the midfield, his namesake Owen Lane gets his first start as a replacement on the wing and Hallam Amos joins the show at fullback. That’s only six players retained from the semi final loss. Will Wales stick with the same gameplan? I’m interested to see what Warren Gatland will change for the All Blacks as a taster for when he returns to Super Rugby in 2020. Even more so, I am interested to see how Wales play. Will they get away with the same style they played against the Springboks? I doubt it. The recipe is there, starve New Zealand of the ball but I expect a lot more attack from Wales than in their semi final. Williams loves to spark and he has plenty outside him to entertain. I also think this is a well deserved start for Patchell who has been every bit as good as Dan Biggar over the World Cup. There’s plenty of power on the bench, a lot of usual starters sit there for a chance to finish but overall, victory here is of little consolation to two sides who dreamt of a Rugby World Cup Final this weekend.
RESULT = New Zealand by 9
I will be streaming during both Bronze final and the Grand Final this weekend, 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! (One to go!) 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!