Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ireland to upset the odds, Wales to dogfight it out - bring it on!

Ireland expects...
Samoa 49 - 12 Namibia 
Tonga 20 - 25 Canada 
Scotland 15 - 6 Georgia
Samoa, the potential dark horse of the tournament, made short of Namibia. Canada produced a minor upset, overcoming the more fancied Samoa, while Scotland failed to impress in a drab victory over Georgia. It was pretty much a Scots B team though.
Fri - 16th Sep 11  

09:00 New Zealand  vs Japan

Sat - 17th Sep 11  

04:30 Argentina vs Romania
09:30 Australia  vs Ireland
07:00 South Africa  vs Fiji

Sun - 18th Sep 11  

09:30 France  vs Canada
07:00 England  vs Georgia
04:30 Wales  vs Samoa

Japan, the Brave Blossoms, are likely to wilt in the face of an All Black onslaught. Ouch is probably going to be the best way to describe this match.

Ireland v Australia is the plum match of the weekend. Australia are ranked 2nd in the world, Ireland a more modest 8th, although in fairness we did fall like a stone from 4th in our less than successful run up to the World Cup. I’ve heard people claiming that we are, to use the technical term, about to be ‘hockeyed’ by the Wobblies. Oh ye of little faith! On Saturday, Kidneys master plan will be revealed, as Ireland go from chumps to champs and sort out the Antipodean giants. And our sheila’s are better looking! I don’t have the stats or the logic to back this up, this is a more primordial pit of the stomach based assessment of our chances. We’ve got the players to do the job, all we need is belief, and in fairness a bit of luck, and we can do it.

There are a couple of key players that are going to have to really perform, none more so than Johnny Sexton who needs to show the form that helped deliver the Heineken Cup for Leinster. Gordon D’Arcy is another that owes us a big time, his most useful contribution to date would have been to pull his socks down and try and blind the opposition with his legs, but he can and will play to his potential. The loose trio of O’Brien, Heaslip and Ferris need to dish out a performance that will be the stuff of legends, getting the ascendancy in the loose and disrupting the awesome Wallaby backline. Donncha O'Callaghan needs to much more than just ballast in the scrum, and Eoin Reddan is going to have to match and better Will Genia. We don’t have anything to lose in the match, the pressure is all on the Aussies, everyone’s expecting us to lose. ‘mon Ireland!  Is feidir linn!

The Springbok Fiji match also looks pretty interesting. The Boks were under serious pressure at one stage the last time they met Fiji in the World Cup, but then they pulled themselves together and won easily in the end. This is a new gentler, kinder set of Boks, none of this ‘Kill’em all and let God sort them out!’ approach any more. Fiji are not the team they used to be either though, and I think the South Africans are still big and beefy enough to squash the Fijians.

Wales and Samoa is the last match of the weekend, and one of the most intriguing. Wales came into this tournament with a young team and high hopes. And they came within a whisker of a major upset of the current World Champions last weekend. But they have to suck up the disappointment of that loss and really concentrate, because one more stumble and they’ll be on the plane home. Samoa showed in their defeat of an admittedly weak Aussie selection in July that they are no pushovers. They’ve beaten Wales before in the World Cup, and have another chance to carve out a bit of history for themselves. They’ve got all at the moment, size, skill and experience. I think Wales are going to win, but not by much more than they lost to the Boks.

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