Rugby Winter Tours 2012: Previews and Predictions – Week 2
Last week, I wrote about how this could well be the year that the Northern Hemisphere sides manage to actually win a Test on the incoming winter tours but to be honest only Wales will still feel they are in with a shot of an upset
The All Blacks were the most impressive side last week with newbies Julian Savea and Aaron Smith having absolute blinders on debut. Savea score a hat trick of tries and was near impossible to stop with ball in hand. How can New Zealand continually produce such huge, super fast, skillful, try scoring wings? I hear you ask. Two words… Cyborgs. You heard it here first.
So, can Wales and Ireland claw their respective ways back into their tours? I doubt it but let’s preview the SHITake out of it anyway.
New Zealand vs Ireland
Ireland did not exactly play terrible rugga last week but had no answer for the fast paced, ball in hand game of the All Blacks. They have hopefully learnt that you have to make first time one on one tackles against these players if you are to have any chance. Can they do that this week? They have brought back Gordon D’Arcy to partner Brian O’Driscoll in the midfield to try to counter the awesomeness that is Sonny Boxer Williams but his form has been up and down lately so time will tell whether this works out for them but I doubt it will.
In the forwards, tighthead prop, Mike Ross comes back into the side and his battle with Tony WoodCOCK should be a classic. The Irish will probably be hoping for rain on Saturday and they may well get it as the weather in Christchurch can be decidedly poor. Speaking of, this is the first Test to be played in Christchurch since the earthquakes, which is fantastic for the locals but not as good for the poor Irish who will have a packed and emotional stadium full of fans to contend with.
The All Blacks have made just one change, with Adam Thomson coming in for the injured Victor Vito. Sheesh, how glorious must it be to be able to have the likes of Thomson as a replacement! Look out for more sniping runs from SBW and Israel Dagg, who seems to keep his best form for the All Black jersey. Dan the man Carter looks to be back to his best too, so expect tries and conversions aplenty from the World Champs.
Venue: Rugby League Park, Christchurch
Referee: Matt Goddard
Kick-Off: Sat 16 June, 9:35am
All Blacks vs Ireland Prediction: 15-25
Australia vs Wales
Wales must have fancied their chances last week and could well have caused an upset but for the odd dropped catch, some marginally legal breakdown steals from David PoCOCK and the freak that is Will Genia. This week they have brought in experienced No 8 Ryan Jones, lock Alun Wyn Jones and hooker Matthew Rees to bolster their forward pack as they search for their first victory against the Aussies in 4 years.
Aussie coach Robbie Deans has kept the same side that started last week and will be hoping from a more polished performance from them. I still reckon Berrick Barnes is a weak link in the side but he kicked well last week. The Wallabies tried to bring Digby Ione into the game as much as possible last week and will try to do so again as he is a handful to stop once he gets going, also he has tattoos on his neck which is always a bit unnerving.
The Welsh will need to put pressure on Genia and blunt captain PoCOCK if they are to level the series but I reckon the Aussies will be better this week and should win another toit one at home.
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Chris Pollock
Australia vs Wales Prediction: Australia by less than 7
In the other notable games this weekend, I reckon Argentina will beat France, Samoa will beat Japan and Scotland will beat Fiji.