4 matches that will shape the World Cup

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Post by robbo277 on Tue 11 Dec 2018, 1:59 pm

First topic message reminder :

There's always a lot of talk about building for a World Cup and what players might make the plane, but as 2018 draws to a close and we enter 2019, it might be worth looking at the 4 pool games that could shape the World Cup knockout stages.

Game One: France vs Argentina, Pool C, 21st September

The first Saturday is set to be a spicy one with New Zealand vs South Africa and Australia vs Fiji, but the repeat of the 2007 bronze final will probably end up as the one with the biggest impact on the pool stages. At the time of the draw, Argentina were the 9th ranked team in the world and therefore were always going to be the third seed most likely to crash the party. The loser of this game on Day 2 of the tournament will be walking a tightrope for the rest of the pool stages, and with Tonga (who beat France in 2011) and England still to come, the loser of this match will put themselves under a lot of pressure.

Game Two: Australia vs Wales, Pool B, 29th September

Australia and Wales probably thought they'd done their time in Pools of Death, but with Georgia's pack and 4th seeds Fiji coming good this autumn, the repeat of the 2011 bronze final match will be hugely important. The winner will probably go on to top the pool, get a slightly easier quarter-final and avoid the All Blacks in the semis, while the loser will most likely be left scrapping in a three-way battle for 2nd and may not make it out the pool at all.

Game Three: Italy vs South Africa, Pool B, 4th October

If results go as expected, Italy will start this game ahead of South Africa on points in the pool - possibly 9-6. It is a game South Africa would be expected to win, but a loss against New Zealand would leave South Africa as the first Tier 1 team to face an elimination match (a 4-1 win for Italy in the earlier scenario would eliminate South Africa). With a chance to secure their progress and eliminate South Africa a week before having to face the All Blacks, the Italians would be right up for this one and could cause a major upset, both in terms of the individual game and the tournament as a whole.

Game Four: Japan vs Scotland, Pool A, 13th October

Popular narrative tells you that this game will be a second-placed play-off in Group B, and if so what a match it will be for the hosts, trying to make their first World Cup quarter-final. And even if they were to fall short against Samoa or failure to pick up a bonus point against Russia leaves them with too big a gap to try and breach, it would still be the first non-Tier one country to host a World Cup signing off on their tournament. For Scotland's part, they'll obviously be hoping they've beaten Ireland and need this game to close the group, but if it does end up as a play-off they'll be hoping to continue their impressive record of qualification.

What does everyone else think? Any game with two tier-one team's is going to be an event, but I think these 4 games will be key in shaping how the knock-out stages look, and potentially coaches' jobs come November 2019.

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Post by robbo277 on Tue 18 Dec 2018, 1:54 pm

Taylorman wrote:This is the reality of the World cup. Although some may think that the situation is reversed 'significantly' in the last three years heres what happened last world cup.

16 matches were played between the NH and SH sides during pool play.

9 were won by the NH. The only side to beat a tier one SH side in the entire tournament was Japan, who beat South Africa in probably THE greatest upset of ALL time.

Obviously none were won in knockout play with all four SH sides making the semis.

So key matches for me, for the NH tier one sides is ANY match where a NH side plays a tier one SH side.

The key to a World cup is that despite SH resources being depleted by the north in hugely increasing numbers, the SH sides 'find a way' to book every possible resource available that isnt ordinarily available in the 3 years prior. So the SH sides will be stronger than usual.

The NH sides will be as they are now as they wont be having any significant numbers return in any big way for the tournament proper.

So the key matches on pool:

Ireland and Scotland vs Samoa and Japan
Italy versus NZ and SA
England and France vs Arg and Tonga
Wales and Georgia vs Oz and Fiji

Upset matches of that lot are Scotland vs japan, Eng and/ or France vs Argie, Wales and France and Fiji.

The rest will go as per the rankings.

We could end up with 4 NH vs SH quarter-finals:

Ireland vs South Africa
New Zealand vs Scotland
England vs Australia
Wales vs Argentina

And if that was the case, I'd back NH to have 3 semi-finalists.

I would also say we're more likely to see France than Argentina if things go exactly with the rankings (as they often do), which would give the NH potentially 5 quarter-finalists and 3 semi-finalists, which New Zealand aside would be quite a reversal from the 2015 World Cup.

A long way to go before these potential quarter-final clashes though, which is why the original post focussed on the decisive pool games (as I saw them).

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Post by Taylorman on Thu 20 Dec 2018, 3:41 am

All good points robbo but I do see the SH being stronger ‘than normal’ which isnt the case for the NH sides for any particular reason. I wouldnt count out any of the RC four come the quarters. Japans an odd place for a lot of high powered matches but I still that favouring the SH sides, the NH sides havent been overly impressive when travelling. England and France were poor and Ireland were average away.

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Post by alanmackie6 on Sat 22 Dec 2018, 11:00 pm

Whatever you may think since 1903 only 33/4 players weren't NZ born,ask any PI
born in Nz.his first comment.Will be I`m a Nz lander,NOT I`m tongan.fijian.samoan,etc.
You want to be an AB playin Nz,thesame isn`t true of the other SH countries.

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Post by Taylorman on Sun 23 Dec 2018, 12:37 am

Dunno Alan, Tongans and Samoans identify themselves as both and either or in my experience, depending on the situation. Day to day life is different from a rugby sense where theyll definitely side with whatever suits them if its in a progessional sense. As with Maori they tend to have more options which might appear unfair though they do tend to come from relatively less well off backgrounds so theres a bit of give and take that seems work ok.

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