Home > Rugby, The Drawing Board > The Drawing Board – Rugby World Cup Pool Preview (1/9/11)

The Drawing Board – Rugby World Cup Pool Preview (1/9/11)

Welcome to the Drawing Board, Who’s Playing Who?’s one stop rugby shop. Not long now until the rugby World Cup starts and already the first couple of teams have started to arrive. Fiji were the first to enter these shores, but their rugby chief will not be allowed into New Zealand due to political reasons. The English have also arrived and were greeted by a crowd of over 100 people. All teams that arrive are greeted with a traditional Maori welcome. Here is some news to get us started.



  • Sonny Bill Williams has changed his mind and it is now doubtful that he will stay in NZ.
  • Injured All Blacks back rowers Kieran Read and Adam Thomson have expressed relief after scans revealed they will not miss the entire Rugby World Cup tournament.
  • Jonah Lomu believes stepping into the ring in December’s Fight For Life will be “no different” to playing a game of rugby
  • British & Irish Lions flanker David Wallace is facing at least six months on the sidelines following the knee injury he sustained during Ireland’s defeat to England on Saturday.
  • Exeter Chiefs are on the verge of recruiting Brumbies scrum-half Pat Phibbs on a short-term deal.


ITM Cup/Currie Cup Round-up

In Currie Cup action over the weekend, the Golden Lions got back to winning ways on Saturday by recording an impressive 28-19 victory over Natal Sharks. The Griquas also got back to winning ways with a fine 23-20 win over the Free State Cheetahs whilst the Blue Bulls made it three wins in a row with a disjointed 28-20 win over the Leopards. Western Province managed to overcome the Pumas 24-13 despite having a couple of players sent to the bin during the game to round out round 7.

In continuation of round 12 of the ITM Cup, Northland prevailed 43-34 in a nine-try thriller against Hawke’s Bay. However the big story was that Taranaki regained the Ranfurly Shield for the first time in 15 years with a hard-fought 15-12 victory over Southland. Aaron Cruden gave another masterful display as leaders Manawatu secured a championship final against Hawke’s Bay with a 27-23 win over bottom-placed Tasman to kick of round 13. Wellington then managed to secure their spot in next year’s Premiership division by bumbling their way to a 29-28 win over North Harbour. Waikato managed to secure a place in the ITM Cup premiership final after defeating Auckland 26-19. Canterbury beat Otago 29-16 to secure the other available spot in the premiership final. Counties-Manukau finished their season on a high with a 34-19 win over Northland with Bay of Plenty also ending on a high when they ran in four tries against Southland winning 29-17. Taranaki managed to keep the Ranfurly Shield for the summer after overcoming Hawke’s Bay 29-11, whilst Manawatu lost to Otago 28-20 in the last round robin game for the season.

The finals of the ITM Cup are as follows:

Championship: Manawatu v Hawke’s Bay, Arena Manawatu, Palmerston North

Premiership: Waikato v Canterbury, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton.


Wallabies 25 – 20 All Blacks

What a thrilling end to this year’s Tri Nations. Australia claimed their first Tri Nations victory in 10 years in an epic encounter that was decided only by a moment of brilliance by one of the games stars. It also brought true meaning to the saying “game of two halves.”

Three tries to scrum-half Will Genia, No.8 Radike Samo and fullback Kurtley Beale was enough to give the Wallabies the victory in this game. However, they had to withstand a good fight back from the All Blacks as they battled back from a 20-3 half-time deficit with tries of their own from centres Conrad Smith and Ma’a Nonu but could not overhaul their Trans-Tasman rivals who claimed a deserved victory that was built on a superb defensive display and a superior intensity.

The Wallabies dominated the opening 40 minutes, displaying a hunger and physical approach not seen this year. They were much the better side, blowing the All Blacks off their ball and completely dominating. Whilst the All Blacks were trying to spread the ball wide during the first half, the Wallabies were taking them on up front and were frustrating the All Blacks in the process.

The home side hammered away at the line but Adam Ashley-Cooper and Genia were both wrapped up in the shadow of the posts before the Wallabies’ No.9 darted over between prop Owen Franks and hooker Keven Mealamu. Cooper added the extras to cement his side’s lead. They could have been further in front if it were not for some good defence by the All Blacks on Samo. They could not stop the big man’s second big run, as he burst through some weak tackling to go 60 meters to score a vital try just before half time. The Wallabies were justifiably 20 – 3 up at the break.

The game changed after the break however, with the All Blacks gaining momentum during the first quarter. They raised their game significantly, and started to deliver a more forward orientated game, with multiple pick and goes. They were made to work for small gains before the Wallabies’ Rocky Elsom was penalised for coming in from the side. Dan Carter duly added the extras. This approach brought them their first try as, on the back of huge set of phases, Carter darted to the line before off loading and sending Smith in for a converted try. Their next try was built off a powerful scrum which allowed them to gain a put in close to the Wallabies line.  The pick and drive continued to sap the Wallabies’ defence and Nonu combined well with Smith to work an opening before showing some great foot work to skip in for the try. Carter’s conversion levelled things up and capped a 17-point haul in just 19 second half minutes.

But back came the Wallabies – and in some style too. Genia carved the crucial opening with a show and go off the base of the ruck before feeding Digby Ioane who joined the attack at pace, who then in turn fed the ball the Beale to finish off the match winning try. Of concern for Wallabies fans though will be Cooper’s inability to finish off the game with place kicks, missing potentially crucial shots at goal. The All Blacks will now know that they are not as good as what they thought they would be, and have some injury concerns to think about.



World Cup Pool Preview



Pool A:

Teams: New Zealand, France, Canada, Japan, Tonga

Crunch games: NZ v France, France v Tonga, NZ v Tonga

Predictions: This looks like a relatively easy pool to pick, with only NZ and France inside the top 10. However, Tonga will be looking to cause an upset against one of these two sides and try to gain promotion to the next round. In my opinion though, the game that will decide this pool will be the NZ v France game, as this will have the biggest impact on the seeding of the pool. New Zealand and France should qualify out of this one, with New Zealand taking first place.


Pool B:

Teams: England, Scotland, Argentina, Georgia, Romania

Crunch games: England v Scotland, Scotland v Argentina, Argentina v England

Predictions:  A harder pool to pick, and one of the harder to get out of by the looks of it. This pool has a distinctly European feel about it, and contains three heavyweights. I don’t see Georgia or Romania causing an upset but they may be competitive during games. Pool B will boil down to three crucial games, with England looking the like the best bet to top this pool.  Scotland and Argentina will be looking to advance as the runners-up, and it should be a tight battle between them. I do however believe that the Pumas will get out of this pool as Scotland have not done a lot recently to suggest that they will get out. Don’t discount an upset to this prediction though, this is a tight group.


Pool C:

Teams: Australia, Ireland, Italy, Russia, USA

Crunch games: Australia v Ireland, Ireland v Italy

Predictions:  Ireland and Australia should make it out of this pool easily, but I wouldn’t underestimate some of these sides, especially Italy who has shown a lot of improvement in recent times. Australia should make it through the stages with ease and qualify as top dog, but Ireland’s form leading up to this tournament has not been great and they don’t have a flash record either. This may leave them open to a potential upset, but I don’t think this will happen. Look out for the USA v Russia game as well, should be a good game from two fierce rivals.


Pool D:

Teams: South Africa, Wales, Samoa, Fiji, Namibia

Crunch games: South Africa v Wales, Wales v Samoa, Wales v Fiji, Fiji v Samoa, Samoa v South Africa, Fiji v South Africa

Predictions: Appropriately, Pool D is the pool of death in this tournament, and therefore has so many crucial games. Now common sense suggests that Wales and South Africa should qualify easily, but Samoa and Fiji should not be taken lightly as they have caused some serious upsets in the past. Plus they will have their European stars back for them to play this tournament. A slip up against either of these sides could be disastrous for a campaign.  This pool intrigues me the most, and whilst I think that South Africa and Wales should get through, I would not be surprised if either of these sides got upset along the way.

Well, that’s it for another week, so until next time, it’s back to the Drawing Board.

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