Wednesday, 16 October 2019
Rugby World Cup 2019 - Quarter Final predictions
Now it is time to look ahead to the weekend's quarter finals:
England v Australia
Hmmm. This one concerns me. There's nothing I've seen from Australia so far that should worry England on Saturday but, equally, the English have been somewhat flat in their serene progress so far. If England can go up through the gears they certainly have enough to beat this Australian team. I have a horrible feeling however that this could be the Aussies' day. I really hope I'm wrong, but Australia by 9.
New Zealand v Ireland
There's little doubt that the Irish, bit by bit, are closing in on the form that saw them beat the All Blacks in 2016 and 2018 and New Zealand will be wary of a repeat. Since then, however, both England and Wales have demonstrated that if you deny the Irish go-forward ball there appears to be no Plan B and the lesson will not have been lost on Steve Hansen. Improved as Ireland may be I can only see an AllBlack win here - by 12 to 16 points.
Wales v France
The simplest of predictions. If Wales have any ambitions to be World Champions they must see off the French team comfortably. While France do have some talented individuals, as a team they remain shambolic. Wales, on the other hand, lack individual spark but are organised, ruthless and tactically very smart. Wales should have this one wrapped up by half time and eventually win by 20+.
Japan v South Africa
For anyone who isn't Scottish, it is truly fantastic to see the Japanese in the last eight - richly deserved after a series of high-octane, eye-catching performances, culminating in a wonderful final Pool victory over the Scots. And now for South Africa - perceived wisdom is that this will be one game too far for the Brave Blossoms, with the Springboks just too big, too powerful and too experienced. Hmm, I'm not so sure. There is a certain momentum behind the Japanese now - with the entire nation behind them - and I'm not sure that even the mighty Boks will be able to derail that. Against the odds I'm going for a narrow Japan victory by 4 points.