Pool A was already going to by spicy enough without the France v Uruguay result thrown in the mixer. Les Bleus’ failure to pick up a bonus point in that one means they will be eager to take five points against Namibia. They should comfortably, which would put them on 13 points at the top and in pole position to win the pool. Namibia now have two matches under their belt, are still on a mission to secure their first World Cup win and will relish the challenge of taking on a French side that need a big victory after their showing against Uruguay. As unlikely as it is, if the French were to miss another bonus point the door would be wide open for the All Blacks to top Pool A. France can all but secure top spot in the pool if they blow the Namibians away.
Los Pumas misfired in a big way in their opener against England. A much-improved performance is a requirement if they are to avoid a disappointing pool play exit. Pool D comes about as close to a ‘pool of death’ as we have at this World Cup so every point is vital. Argentina need to beat Samoa and should be looking to secure a bonus point that would put them right back in the running to advance (by my maths they’d be third, assuming Japan get past Chile). The Samoans were impressive in their comprehensive win over Chile in their opener and will be looking to build on that performance. Samoa have three former New Zealand internationals - first five Lima Sopoaga, flanker Steven Luatua and prop Charlie Faumuina as well as former Australian first five Christian Leali’ifano. This match probably has the most bearing out of any listed here in terms of how important it is for these two nations’ tournaments. Tough timing at 3.45am, but it’s the weekend and World Cups only come around every four years.
When the pools were announced for this World Cup this fixture that had many a tongue wagging and the significance has only grown. Number one ranked Ireland against World Champions South Africa. As a neutral fan it’s hard to imagine a more enticing fixture. Ireland have continued their form from earlier this year into the World Cup - taking the maximum ten points from their first two games to sit atop the group. South Africa began a little slowly against Scotland and it was the unfortunate Romanians who felt the wrath of that in their second - I’ll go out on a limb and say these two teams will advance comfortably from the pool, but this match will likely decide who wins it. At the leisurely kick off time of 8am Sunday NZT, there’s little excuse for missing this one.
Two teams that will be desperate to pick up their first points of the tournament. Tonga were swept aside by Ireland in their first and the Scots kept theirs against South Africa much closer than most predicted. Pool B is a bit of a foregone conclusion with South Africa and Ireland in there, but it should be noted that a third place finish in your pool at this tournament earns guaranteed entry to the next - heaps to play for here. Tonga are stacked with talent Kiwi fans will recognise in Malakai Fekitoa, Charles Piutau, Augustine Pulu, Solomone Kata, Vaea Fifita, Solomone Funaki just to name a few - plus who could forget a certain Israel Folau. This is realistically more a record-and-watch type scenario for neutrals but Scots and Tongans (and rugby nerds) would do well to get into this one live - so much to look out for.
‘Do-or-die’ is how Wallabies coach Eddie Jones has described this match. He said that off the back of Australia’s upset loss to Fiji, which has thrown a cat well amongst the resident pigeons of Pool D. Wales lead on ten points, Australia and Fiji both have six. Were Australia to win, we could end up with four teams on ten points if we assume that Fiji will beat Georgia (bonus points would change this but it’s not as fun to get too technical). That would bring head-to-head results into play, meaning this one could very well be a decider later down the track. Just for good measure, Wales coach Warren Gatland and Jones have a history, having had numerous battles as coaches in the Six Nations - even the press conferences for this one demand attention. This will be rugby theatre, which is best served live.
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