Rugby Winter Tours 2012: Preview and Predictions – Week 3
Last week I managed to do a bit of damage to my knee attempting a Messi ésque through the legs of the opponent, backwards flick situation on the action soccer pitch. I have been playing for a few seasons now and used to be pretty SHITake at soccer, I still am. Anyhoo, I had knee surgery yesterday and am currently sitting on the couch with my leg up, drugged up on pain pills as I type this, which although mostly enjoyable means my attention span has been dramatically redu… ooooh Reno 911, I love this show! Yesss.
Back to the incoming winter tours and two incredibly toit games for both the All Blacks and Australia last week. In fact, the NH sides will feel they could easily have racked up famous victories and be sitting at 1-1 with it all to play for in their respective series.
Have their best chances passed them by or do they have the resolve for one more push at a consolation win? Tricky questions both, let’s wade in, balls deep.
Australia vs Wales
The Aussies will count themselves lucky to have won last week and had to rely on a post hooter penalty kick from Mike Harris to sneak a win. The lead changed hands time and again in the second half but after edging ahead 23-22, Wales strangely decided to kick the ball away. The Wallabies used the precious minutes to head up field and then milk a penalty from a maul. They say winning becomes a habit but so does losing and so does online gambling… just saying, be careful.
Wales have kept the same side for this clash but their task has been made that much more difficult by the inclusion of Kurtley Tache Beale at fullback for the Wallabies. Tache Beale has recently been charged with assault after some shenanigans outside a pub, standard night out really, and he’s been included in the team. A win here is vital for the Wallabies as they will take some much-needed confidence into The Rugby Championship in August.
This one is tricksy to the max to predict as Wales will now firmly believe they have the know how to beat this side but I am once again going to back the home side with Beale and a packed Allianz Stadium proving the difference.
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Kick-Off: Sat 23 June, 7:00am
Referee: Craig Joubert
Australia vs Wales Prediction: Aussies by a Kurtley lip whisker
All Blacks vs Ireland
Last week I, like most of New Zealand and seemingly the All Black team, was surprised by how close the Irish came to what would have been a huge upset. The weather was fricken freezing Mr Bigglesworth and the Irish seemed to thrive in the conditions. The weather may once again play a part this week as rain is likely, which may suit the Irish but it will not be enough to cause an upset.
Steve Hansen has decided to ring the changes and has given Aaron Cruden and Hosea Gear a run in the backline and has brought in lock, Luke Romano into the tight five. Sam Cane gets his first start and Liam Messam comes in for Adam Thomson with captain Richie McCaw shifting to 8th man. Captain charming has not been in great form recently so will be keen on an improved showing, albeit in the less familiar role at the back of the scrum.
Aaron Cruden, Hosea Gear and Liam Messam have all been in sublime form in Super Rugby and will be keen to prove that they deserve more playing time in the starting side. So many changes can often disrupt a side and the All Blacks may take some time to find their rhythm but the Irish will be deflated after coming so close last week will struggle to match the same intensity, especially if they go behind early.
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Referee: Romain Poite (I have never heard of him either)
All Blacks vs Ireland Prediction: All Blacks by 7-15
In the other games this week, Argentina will continue their stranglehold over France, Fiji will beat Tonga, Georgia will beat Canada, Italy will beat USA and Scotland will beat Samoa.