Rugby World Cup 2011 Semi-final 1: Prediction and Preview
So here we are, only 3 more fixtures and we will have new 2011 Rugby World Cup champions.
Highly entertaining matches this past weekend, starting with Wales smashing Ireland with a quality display. Looks like the tough pool they endured has benefitted them immensely and they have built up good momentum and are playing with composure and confidence that belies their inexperienced squad.
France surprised everyone, even their own countrymen, by finally playing with some flair and purpose in disposing of an albeit crap English side. Well done Les Bleus! There is still a chance they could play the All Blacks in the final….which would be interesting to say the least?
The All Blacks beat Argentina comfortably and their ability to change their game-plan and playing style midway through a match is a quality that will surely help them finally put the ol’ choker’s tag to bed once and for all.
A lot has been said about Bryce douchbag Lawrence and his terrible officiating of the Boks vs Wallabies game. He basically decided to not ref the breakdown at all, missed high tackles, misjudged forward passes and failed to inform O’Connor that he could re-take his kick after JP Pietersen prematurely charged him. Reffing FAIL. Here is a chart which explains his performance on the day.
As much as it pains me to say it, the Bokke did not take their chances and their inability to score tries with that much possession and territory is the main reason they lost. They will hopefully learn from this and appoint a coach who can balance their physicality and kicking game with some attacking play that effectively utilises the incredible potential and ability of their backs.
Moving on though… to the semis!!!
RWC2011 Semi-final 1: Wales vs France
Wales have made only one change to the starting 15 with James Hook coming in at flyhalf to replace the injured Rhys Priestland with Stephen Jones coming in on the bench as back up. The question is whether Hook is as good at flyhalf?
Wales have been in fine form so far and have a number of players playing the rugby of their lives. They have a potent backline and guys like George North, Mike Philips and Jamie Roberts will certainly be a handful for the French side.
It is not easy to predict which French side will turn up on the day but I still feel they have not had their best performance of this RWC yet. They have beaten Wales 6 times in the last 7 matches and even though they will say this means nothing in a RWC knock out game, they will draw from those wins.
Wales have not yet played a top side that will run at them like the French will and it is how well they manage to contain the French backline that may determine this result. The forward packs are evenly matched but players like captain Dusatoir and No 8. Imanol Harinordoquy had huge games last week and will be looking for much of the same against the likes of Welsh players, captain Warburton and Alun Wyn Jones.
France may be without Dimitri Yachvili and this will be blow to their chances due to the vast experience he brings to the side, not to mention is accurate kicking. Marc Lievremont has kept scrumhalf Parra at flyhalf and this may come back to haunt him but a lot will depend on the attitude of the French players on the day. Keep a look out for Vincent Clerc, leading try scorer at the RWC2011 so far, who has the ability to run with the ball on his nose.
Expect a fantastic display of knock-out rugby from both sides mixed in with some running rugby and passionate defense. This is hard to predict and even though I see the bookies are favouring Wales, I have a gut feeling France may take this one (please note that I officially suck at Superbru though).
Kick-Off: Sat 15th of October at 10:00am (SA time)
Referee: Alain Rolland
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Prediction: France by 6.