We’re knee-deep in the fourth and final Pool round of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, and while the Springboks have wrapped their first stage of the tournament, there’s still some pivotal encounters that have a massive influence on the future of South Africa’s third RWC hopes.
New Zealand vs Tonga
Losses to Georgia and Argentina and an unconvincing win against Namibia are the results of an underwhelming showing by Tonga – the side that shocked France during the 2011 World Cup and pushed South Africa until the end in 2007.
Tonga won half of their pool matches at both those tournaments – compared to only one victory this year.
Despite large victories over Namibia and Georgia, New Zealand have been underwhelming as well. The current world champs have had arguably the easiest Pool to navigate, but haven’t devastated their opponents like many would have expected.
A solid, dominant victory over Tonga, at St James Park in Newcastle on Friday, will go a long way to reassuring the All Blacks’ fans they are still favourites to be the first nation to retain the William Webb Ellis trophy.
Scotland vs Samoa
Scotland are looking to cement their place in the quarter final round of the 2015 Rugby World Cup as they face Samoa in Pool B of the tournament on Saturday at St James Park.
Scotland are just one win away from securing their berth in the last-eight round of the RWC, a feat the Scots have not done since 2007. However, Samoa are expected to go all out in their Pool B match at the quadrennial rugby tournament, with the Pacific Islanders desperate to lift their spirits and restore national pride against Scotland.
A win for Scotland during the weekend would mean an RWC quarterfinal fixture with either Australia or Wales, who will also slug it out on Oct. 10 to determine the top team in the “Pool of Death.” If Scotland lose or draw, they could be leapfrogged by Japan, one of the tournament’s surprise team.
Expecting the Samoans to come at them with full force, Scotland will have to up the physicality to overcome Samoa and secure a slot into the next round of the tournament.
Australia vs Wales
Australia will battle Wales for the top spot in “Pool of Death” on Saturday. The Wallabies and Wales are tied at first place in their pool standings with three wins and 13 points.
Wales have lost 10 matches in a row against the Wallabies, and are determined to avoid another narrow loss to Australia at Twickenham.
The winner of the heavyweight clash on Saturday will face a quarterfinal game against Scotland or Japan, with a semifinal possibility of meeting Ireland, France, or Argentina. However, the losers will book a date with two-time world champions South Africa in the last eight round.
England vs Uruguay
Few could have imagined just three weeks into the World Cup England would be playing their final pool match with no chance of reaching the quarter-finals. Yet this is the nightmare reality facing Stuart Lancaster’s side in Saturday’s dead rubber against Uruguay after successive defeats to Wales and Australia destroyed their hopes of success on home soil.
England will be desperate to finish their tournament on a high after such a miserable fortnight since the Wales defeat. Of course motivation can work both ways as their intensity could be missing with nothing to play for. Third place and qualification for the Japan World Cup in four years is already secure and the win looks a certainty against such limited opposition. This is a total mismatch and England are fancied to finish with a flourish in a resounding win over Uruguay.
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