The games just get bigger and better in the Rugby World Cup, and this weekend features two colossal games that will decide final pool placings and quarter final opponents. Ireland and France are locked together at the top of pool D, and although quarter final spots are in the bag, this will decide who faces the winner of pool C – New Zealand. Both teams have 100% records so far and have been excellent in patches, and it promises to be a full-blooded encounter.
Wales and Australia do battle in what many thought might be a fight for qualification, but few suspected would be a a struggle for first and second. England were dumped out of the competition by Australia last weekend, and it’s now a straight tussle for top spot between the inspired Welsh and the ruthless Australians. Once again this has the potential to be a classic encounter, with the prize being a quarter final against pool B runners-up rather than winners.
England are still to play their final group match against Uruguay on Saturday evening, and it will be a sombre affair for the players and fans alike. Most would have expected this game to complete a triumphant march into the knockout phase, but instead it’s a goodbye to the World Cup for another four years. The team that hammered the final nail in the English coffin, Australia, are fancied to give Wales the same treatment, while Ireland can get the better of France to take pool D.
Ireland v France
Ireland can be backed to win at -133 with BoyleSports
Both sides have shown decent form so far in the World Cup and this will be a competitive game. Ireland started out with a comprehensive 50-7 victory over Canada and followed it up with a 44-10 win against Romania. The 16-9 win over Italy was the lowest scoring game of the competition and a disappointing performance from an Irish point of view. Fly-half Jonathan Sexton admitted that Ireland would have to deal with the French threat much better than they did the Italians, but also said, “It’s all down to this weekend and that’s where we wanted to be at the start of the tournament”.
France are usually involved at the sharp end of the World Cup, and they will make their way into the quarter finals once again this time around. They’ve been generally impressive in the three wins they’ve gained at the tournament so far, beating Italy 32-10 in the opening game, with a 38-11 win against Romania and a 41-18 victory over Canada to follow. The French are always well-equipped for the World Cup, perhaps more so than the Six Nations, and they will provide stiff opposition.
Ireland beat France on the last two occasions they met, however, and do go into the game as slight favourites. The latest of those wins was the 18-11 Six Nations victory in Dublin as Ireland were on their way to the title, with the previous victory the 22-20 win in Paris in the previous year’s tournament. The Irish may have under-performed in the Italy game, but they will be aware of the magnitude of this game and fired up from the first whistle.
Australia v Wales
The other game sees Australia and Wales fight it out for top spot in pool A, and the Aussies could be a snip at +100 with BoyleSports to beat a -7 points handicap.
The Aussies dealt with England with a ruthless efficiency and although the English players threatened to claw their way back into the game briefly, the Wallabies rarely looked in danger. Eventually English indiscipline led to a gloss on the 33-13 scoreline, and the long-anticipated World Cup has become a case of what might have been for Stuart Lancaster and his men.
Fly-half Bernard Foley produced a man-of-the-match display with two converted tries and four penalties, and his clinical accuracy perfectly summed up the Australian performance. Foley insisted that the side are fully focused on Wales and are resisting the temptation to mull over a famous victory. Having beaten Fiji 28-13 and thumped Uruguay 65-3 the Aussies will be confident of a fourth successive win to secure the group.
Wales will have plenty to say about that though, and forwards coach Robin McBryde has confirmed that Wales will have a fully fit squad to choose from ahead of the Australian test. They’ve had to deal with an ongoing injury crisis leading up to and during the tournament, which has made their achievement all the greater, and it’s refreshing to see a little bit of good news on the injury front. It hasn’t stopped them beating Uruguay 54-9, England 28-25 in the game that started the host nation’s downfall, and Fiji 23-13 in a bruising encounter.
Australia have beaten Wales the last three times they’ve met in competitive matches, and if they perform as well as they did against England they’ll be very hard for the Welsh to beat. Although Wales have had good news regarding injuries, they’re still missing some key players from the squad and the exertions of the tournament so far could just catch up with them a little as the game wears on. Australia took full advantage of English indiscipline in the latter stages of their victory last week, and if there is any chink in Welsh fitness towards the end of the game the Aussies will be sure to expose it.
Ireland to beat France
Sunday 11th October, 16:45 GMT
Australia -7 to beat Wales
Saturday 10th October, 16:45 GMT
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