Thursday, October 29, 2015

A preview of the Rugby World Cup Final with a bit of Halloween thrown in!

Get your Halloween face on!

The 2015 Rugby World Cup comes to a finale on Saturday, with the two form teams, New Zealand and Australia, no1 and 2 in the world, contesting the final.

But first we have the 3rd/4th playoff, which Argentina and South Africa must be looking forward to like root canal therapy. Who wants to be the third best team in the world anyway? South African coach Heyneke Meyer reckons this match is like kissing your sister – TMI Heyneke, TMI! The Springboks name the same team from last week, while the Pumas have made nine injury enforced changes – wow those Australians are a rough bunch! I would say those injuries will count against Argentina, and the Springboks will be able to give Victor Matfield a win in his final match.

Australia and New Zealand have a fractious sporting relationship to start with, never mind when they meet in a World Cup final. It must be really annoying when a big country is dominated by a little country in rugby – no I’m not talking about England and Ireland, but it must be galling for Australia to be losing to little New Zealand on a regular basis.  They also have regular tussles in cricket, rugby league and netball. They look on each as both the worst team to lose to, and the best to beat. So never mind the rest of the teams, the rest of the rugby world, this one’s personal!

The All Blacks have an advantage in that they are technically more skilled, and play a high paced game, waiting to exploit mistakes. The Aussies are not as skilled, but have compensated over the years for their lack of player numbers by playing it smart.  And the 2015 model Australia has identified the breakdown as the area they can use to gain an advantage, slow down the All Blacks ball,  get turnovers and have ball to use in a disruptive situation where the New Zealand defence is disorganised. Step forwards Messrs Pocock  and Hooper who are just like machines in a tackle, it’s like taking candy off a baby for them. They do face the master poacher Richie McCaw, but it’s 2:1.

And the Aussies really want it, making sacrifices for their country, they have players like Giteau and Mitchell who have lost income from Toulon of between Aus$100 000 -250 000 to play for Australia. In New Zealand’s favour is that they’ve had an extra days rest, and their match against the Springboks wasn’t as sapping as Australia found it against Argentina. That probably just just tilts it in the All Blacks favour, but it’ll probably be decided by a few points.

Friday, October 30   
Argentina v South Africa
Saturday, October 31   
Australia v New Zealand

Sunday, October 25, 2015

All Blacks and Australia head into their first World Cup final!

The semis kicked off on Saturday with a classic brutal encounter between South Africa and the All Blacks. The match was close all the way through played in pretty difficult wet conditions. New Zealand always looked like they had an edge over the Springboks, and played a smart game pinning them back in their own 22. By their high standards in such a big game, who wants to have only a 2 point lead at the end , when one good break out and bit of luck could take everything away from you. But, all in all, job done, into the final and no more injuries. The Springboks meanwhile, weren’t happy with the loss, but with a lot of young players, they are only going to get better.

After that tense game, Argentina v Australia was a lot more open affair. The Pumas started in the worst possible way, conceding a try in the first few minutes, and another try not too long after that. After that the match swung backwards and forwards, Australia scored some good tries, the Pumas kicked their kicks and worked their way back into the match, until Drew Mitchell’s run eventually took the game away from them. Like Ireland, I think they put too much into their previous match. So no fairy tale ending for Argentina, but their future is shaping up well. Australia are into a final, their first against the All blacks at the World Cup. And fittingly, it’s the two form teams that will contest the 2015 final.

Saturday, October 24   
New Zealand 20 - 18    South Africa
Sunday, October 25   
Argentina 15 - 29    Australia

Friday, October 23, 2015

Probably supporting Argentina from now on, let's see how it goes!


Watching the rugby last weekend was nearly as painful as Dave Kearney having his dislocated finger shoved back in (after a few attempts). The tournament just doesn’t have the same appeal now that Ireland are out. But it’ll be slightly more relaxing to watch, I’ve been on the couch for 80 minutes, defending the line, making the tackles, pushing in the scrums and mauls – it’s been exhausting!

What we do have left is an all Southern hemisphere affair, with the Springboks taking on the All Blacks on Saturday to get things going. The match is going to be about a 9 on the Roy Keane intensity scale (where 1 is Roy walking his dog, and 10 is Roy when a journalists’ phone goes off in a press conference. ) There’s no secret about how the Springboks are going to approach the match – hits measured on the Richter scale, as much contact and set play as possible, and not much pace on the game. While the All Blacks will looking to speed the game up, and bring their backs into play as much as possible. The Springboks tend to run the ball more when they play New Zealand, with the realisation that penalties won’t build a big enough score to win. So it could be a good match but the All Blacks are favourites and should win.

Then Sunday sees the Pumas, fresh from battering Ireland, taking on Australia, who scraped through their match with Scotland thanks to a few bounces of the ball and fortuitous refereeing decisions. The Wallabies were the best thing since sliced bread in the pool stage, dispatching England and Wales with ease, and fancied to hammer Scotland. Now they are the unknown quantity, will the real Wallabies please stand up? I think that having Folau and Pocock back will make them a lot more dangerous. Argentina are the surprise package of the quarters, and could do a lot more in this tournament. I for one would love to see things shaken up a bit and have a new mane etched on the Webb Ellis trophy. They will do well to beat Australia though.

Saturday, October 24           
MATCH        TIME  (BST)    TV
New Zealand v    South Africa     4:00 PM   
Sunday, October 25           
MATCH        TIME  (BST)    TV
Argentina v    Australia     4:00 PM