The Rugby World Cup pool matches continue during midweek, and Wales are set to turn out again quickly after their heroic victory over England. If Japan’s win against South Africa sent shockwaves through the world of rugby, Wales’ surprise win against England sent the home nation and its fans reeling. This has been the World Cup of upsets so far, and England are on the verge of the unthinkable – being eliminated from their own tournament before the knockout stages have begun.
For Wales, the result has put them in with a huge chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals at the expense of Australia or England, from a group which many thought they would struggle to get out of. However, they will have to regroup and prepare for a tough test against Fiji on Thursday night before they pack the bags for the knockouts.
Pool D has gone very much the way of expectations so far, with Ireland and France topping the table and on course for the quarters. France face Canada this week in their last match before the pool showdown with Ireland on the 11th of October, and they will be aiming to put pressure on the Irish ahead of that game by earning a bonus point win against Canada. The French beat Romania with a vastly changed side from their opening victory against Italy, and the big guns may well be back for Thursday’s Canadian clash, given that they’ll still have 10 days to recover for the Ireland game.
World Cup Round Up
With just about every team having played a couple of games, the pool tables are starting to take shape and teams are aware of what is required over the next two games. England have given themselves a mountain to climb in terms of qualification, and they must beat Australia to stand a chance of getting through. The Aussies have been pretty faultless so far though, beating Fiji 28-13 and following up with the weekend’s 65-3 mauling of Uruguay. Wales still have to face Fiji and Australia, but positive results – and bonus points – could easily see them progress.
Scotland have made the perfect start in pool B with bonus point wins over Japan and USA, but with South Africa and Samoa to play, they still have work to do. The South Africans recovered from that incredible defeat at the hands of Japan, to beat Samoa 46-6 and there was a feeling of normal service being resumed.
New Zealand have coasted to victories over Argentina and Namibia without really getting out of first gear, but they’ll be expected to raise their game significantly for the latter stages. Argentina’s 54-9 win over Georgia put them in pole position to qualify behind South Africa, although there’s still plenty to play for.
Ireland sit proudly atop pool D after comfortable bonus point wins against Canada and Romania, although France are breathing down their necks just a point behind them, after wins over Italy and Romania.
Wales Must Make Results Count
It’s in pool A that we find our first bet in midweek, as Wales take on Fiji, and the Welsh can be backed to overcome the 14 point handicap set by most bookies.
The result against England was absolutely massive on Saturday night, but Wales must perform in their remaining two matches or it will count for nothing. The win was so impressive because Wales were ravaged by injuries in the build-up to the game and found themselves 10 points behind in-play, but somehow managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. England fans will lament Stuart Lancaster’s defensively-minded play, and claim that England threw the game away, but nothing should be taken away from a superb, battling Welsh performance.
Fiji will provide tough opposition as they proved against Australia and England, and there is little time to recover physically, but the Welsh players should have enough desire to get them through this test. After this game they will have 10 days to prepare for the final match against the Aussies. Despite good showings in their first two games, Fiji still lost 35-11 to England and 28-13 to Australia, and Wales have shown that they are at a similar level. The win will be at the forefront of Wales coach Warren Gatland’s mind, but he will also note the importance of a bonus point and the effect it may have on final pool standings.
Wales are worth backing to overcome the handicap, especially if they go in search of tries for a bonus point.
France to Put Pressure on Ireland
In Thursday’s other game France -36 is +100 with Bwin, and the French are worth backing to rack up a big score against Canada.
The Canadians were well-beaten by Ireland first time out by a 50-7 scoreline, but they fared a little better against Italy at the weekend, only going down 23-18. A controversial disallowed Canadian try may well have changed the course of the game, but realistically, this was one of Canada’s best chances of getting some points on the World Cup board. They’ll still have a game against Romania to play after this one, but everything points to that being a fight to avoid the wooden spoon and bottom spot in the pool.
France comprehensively beat Italy 32-10 in their opening game despite not playing particularly well, and they coped with 13 changes to the starting line up in the 38-11 victory over Romania. One would expect some of the rested players to come back in for this game, and France will be chasing the bonus point that will put pressure on Ireland at the top of the table.
Wales -14 to beat Fiji
Thursday 1st October, 16:45 GMT
France -36 to beat Canada
Thursday 1st October, 20:00 GMT
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