David does RWC – Days 9, 10 and 11
The 2011 Rugby World Cup is well under way in New Zealand, and we’ve sent our Chief Rugby Analyst David Shipton along to cover the entire tournament for us (well… not really. He lives there.)
RWC Days 9, 10 and 11
The RWC has marched on through the week, only taking a break on Monday. The minnow nations that are taking part are beginning to tire a bit and I don’t really blame them. This is one area that I think the IRB needs to take a look at. The minnow’s (basically everyone bar those in the Six Nations and Tri Nations plus Argentina) have had such quick turnarounds that they are getting fatigued in the last 20 minutes of the game and letting the bigger sides romp all over them. How is it fair that they regularly have to play 2 games in a week (including at least one against the top dogs) yet none of the top teams have to play more than once a week? It would help even the playing field so much if they did this. Teams like Fiji and Samoa have enough talent to be competitive and win games against the top 10 but will stand no chance if they have had to back up a couple of days later and play a strong and well rested side? Anyway that’s my rant over, now onto the games.
Italy manhandled Russia and gave them a scrumming lesson in their 53 – 17 win, however it was the Italian backs who impressed me more. It was a much-changed performance overall as backs and forwards linked up seamlessly in a way that was missing in their opening defeat by Australia. Italy showed their intent to attack with the ball in hand early on and impressed in the first half. After conceding four tries in quick succession Russia only started to improve once replacement scrum half Alexander Yanyushkin came on and lead them to a better second half
Tonga secured their first victory over Japan for five years with a 31 – 18 win. In a match both teams had targeted as a must-win, Tonga’s control of the breakdown, Japan’s mistakes and six out of seven converted kicks from Tonga fly half Morath proved the difference. A try to Fetu’u Vainikolo in the 54th minute gave the Tongans the needed momentum to get over the line and take a deserved win.
Bryan Habana finally broke the South African try scoring record as South Africa pummelled Namibia by 87 – 0. South Africa will not be satisfied with their effort, especially the erratic first-half effort from the near full-strength side. South Africa raced out of the blocks to lead 31-0 at half-time but the lead could have been significantly more had the Springboks not wasted several attacking opportunities with 10 first-half handling errors. Their lineout didn’t operate as well as it should, and the side seemed like they were trying to force the game too much in the first half. Namibia were competitive until the 60th minute when (surprise surprise) the Springboks ran in 7 tries in the last 20 minutes.
I have previewed the Australian game in the last update, but I’ll add it in just in case you forgot.
Australia will want to get their campaign back on track with a victory over the USA. They should do this with ease, but the US has improved a heck of a lot since the last World Cup and should put up a fight for at least the first 60 minutes. Australia should take this by a fair bit though.
England should beat Romania by a fair bit, but England has not been in the greatest form in this World Cup. They struggled for a fair while against Georgia, and will be looking for an improvement against the Oaks. In all fairness, they should take this one quite comfortably, with Romania effectively putting out an under strength side.
New Zealand v France – you can’t get much better at a World Cup. There has been plenty of talk about the French putting out an under strength side, but I don’t think that this is the case, their side is good and their bench is fantastic. This will be both sides best test of the World Cup so far, but I think the All Blacks should take this one.
Fiji will be looking to get one over their fellow Islanders Samoa. However, the Samoans will be no push over and go into this match as favourites. They should have too much power, skill and experience to take down what has turned out to be a disappointing Fiji side.
Well that’s all from me, enjoy the upcoming Rugby feast!!!