Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sprinboks to lose at home, Ireland to win away(maybe) and Wales to go all the way this time(possibly)

A picture is worth a thousand words...
Saturday , August 13
Wales vs England 14:30
USA vs Canada 16:00
Italy vs Japan 19:45
France vs Ireland 19:45
Saturday , August 13
South Africa vs Australia
Ireland France
France have played Ireland a big compliment by picking a strong team for their match in Bordeaux. It’s possibly not their out and out  A team but these are quality players and Raphaël Lakafia is the only new cap to start. They obviously want to win this one, and while they are going to be a bit rusty, Ireland are going to have their work cut out here. 

So this is Ireland, now with extra strength! The big guns are out in the front row, which are going to be needed, and Kidney has deployed his ultimate weapon of destruction at flank in the shape of Sean O'Brien. And on the bench we have Heaslip and O'Connell, so now I'm really looking forward to this match!  We're probably going to hit full strength next week, but this team has an exciting look to it, I reckon Earls will shine, and lets see what Murray can do. As O'Gara is the only specialist fly half in the 22, I expect Wallace at 10 at some stage, so it'll be interesting how that works out. Hard to predict this match, but Ireland could sneak it.
Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Denis Leamy, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Donncha Ryan, 5 Leo Cullen (c), 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Jerry Flannery, 17 Tony Buckley, 18 Paul O'Connell, 19 Jamie Heaslip, 20 Conor Murray, 20 Fergus McFadden, 22 Felix Jones.

France: 15 Damien Traille, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 David Marty, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Alexis Palisson, 10 François Trinh-Duc, 9 Dimitri Yachvili, 8 Raphaël Lakafia, 7 Imanol Harinordoquy, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (c), 5 Romian Millo-Chluski, 4 Julien Pierre, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Sylvain Marconnet
Replacements: 16 Guilhem Guirado, 17 Jean-Baptiste Poux, 18 Lionel Nallet, 19 Julien Bonnaire, 20 Morgan Parra, 21 David Skrela, 22 Maxime Médard, 23 Fabien Barcella.
South Africa v Australia
I was watching highlights of the Australia/Ireland match the other day from the 1991 World Cup, told from an Aussie point of view. Nick Farr-Jones – ‘They were very friendly, hospitable, couldn’t do enough for us, then when we got on the field they beat the hell out of us!’. After Ireland went ahead in the last 4 minutes through Gordon Hamilton’s try, this is what the players were thinking: Tim Horan ‘We’re on the plane, we’re going home.’ Michael Lynagh – ‘We’re going to win, we just need to stay calm’ John Eales ‘My clothes are in the washing machine at the hotel and I won’t have time to pick them up before we fly home!’
That was an awesome Wallaby side, but how is the 2011 edition going to fare on Saturday? They arrive on the back of playing exceptionally well against the All Blacks but still getting thumped. Consistency is not their byword – in the last year they were the only team to beat the All Blacks, they got beaten by England, thrashed France and lost to Samoa. Sentiment in the Republic is that the Wobblies are due for another hiding. I’m not so sure...
The Springboks to me at the moment are a lot like England were before the last World Cup. Some really talented but aging players, coaching all over the place. Is a two week break going to have transformed players like Matfield, Habana, Du Preez into world beaters again? I know we’re supposed to be getting their A team this week but South Africa just don’t look hungry enough anymore, and while their defence should still be rock solid, I don’t see them offering much in attack. Coaching wise, I couldn’t see Pieter de Villiers finding his particular coaching skills on offer in demand from any other team, at international or club level. Australia meanwhile, apart from a world class front row, have all the ingredients to make things happen, flair, beef, skill, just not the consistency. I’m going with a win for the Aussies, I don’t think the Boks are going to be able to contain their enthusiasm.
This is the Bok team:
South Africa: 15 Frans Steyn, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Butch James, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Danie Rossouw, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 John Smit (c), 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Gurthro Steenkamp, 18 Gerhard Mostert, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Morne Steyn, 22 Gio Aplon.

Good to see Brussow back, this team is no pushover, but will they have the dynamism?

Meanwhile, Higginbotham and Sharpe have come in for Australia.
Wales England

So these are the teams, starting with Wales who are looking a lot more attacking this week. I'm a fan of Hook, good to see Priestland get another shot, and my only quibble is in the orange figure of Gavin Henson. I don't doubt he has aboility, but when in the last few years he has shown any form to justify his inclusion?

England are big and mean again, but Foden, Ashton and Flood add the flair they need. Tindall and Hape don't inspire very much in midfiled, but with Lawes champing at the bit we could see some fireworks.

So who's it going to be? If England won last week with a weaker team, this should be easier this week with a stronger team. Would love to see Wales run them close though.

Wales: 15 James Hook, 14 George North, 13 Jamie Roberts, 12 Gavin Henson, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun-Wyn Jones, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Craig Mitchell, 2 Lloyd Burns, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Huw Bennett, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Josh Turnbull, 19 Justin Tipuric, 20 Tavis Knoyle, 21 Scott Williams, 22 Aled Brew.
England: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Mike Tindall (c), 12 Shontayne Hape, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Hendre Fourie, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Steve Thompson, 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 Lee Mears, 17 Matt Stevens, 18 Tom Palmer, 19 James Haskell, 20 Danny Care, 21 Charlie Hodgson, 22 Matt Banahan.

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