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When he dragged himself from the ground to play on in the 76th minute, bruised and bone-weary after helping New Zealand repel 15 phases of massed French attacks, the crowd cheered him to the echo. The second half reversed the first in which New Zealand had France under pressure. That led in the 15th minute to an error in defence by Trinh-Duc and to a try from planned move at a lineout to loosehead prop Tony Woodcock.
The ball went to the back, then to Woodcock in the centre and as the French line parted like a curtain the veteran prop dashed through. Though scrumhalf Piri Weepu sprayed three early kicks at goal, New Zealand built a measurable ascendancy, reflected only in a lead at halftime. Weepu kicked the ball into the hands of Trinh-Duc who made a deep incursion into their territory.
Scrumhalf Dimitri Yachvili slipped in taking his infield pass but France moved the ball to the left touchline, then back to midfield where Dusautoir slid over near the posts. Somehow, with its back to the wall in the second half of the match, New Zealand survived. After winning the World Cup at its first attempt in , going through that tournament unbeaten as it did again this year, New Zealand was beaten in the final in , the semifinals in , and and in the quarterfinals — by France — in France became the first team to reach a World Cup final after losing twice in pool play and the first to lose three finals, after defeats in and Like Wales, England will match and thus neutralise Australia's set-piece strength.
They have the more powerful runners and their defence has vastly improved, conceding the least points in the tournament to date, although having played a game less. I also feel England's defence is strong out wide, where the Wallabies gained advantage over Wales. Added to this, while recognising history goes out the window at World Cups, England are currently in the groove against their old rivals, having won their last six matches against the Wallabies, eight of the last 10, and 10 of the last 12 meetings.
This gives the Irish an advantage and they are one of only a handful of teams that will unnerve the reigning double World Champions. Joe Schmidt's side won their last meeting in November , just one of two defeats the Kiwis have suffered in the last 12 months. Ireland at their best, as in , play a suffocating, high intensity game that can defeat New Zealand. A high pressure kicking game and ferocious rush defence, making the All Blacks earn every metre, is the way to force mistakes and knock them off their stride - this is what the Irish can do.
But can they do it on this occasion? After all they are not the team they were in Their dismantling of Scotland in their opening pool match seemed to signal their return to top form, but both their own and Scotland's performances since have proved this was more a case of how terrible the Scots were, than how brilliant the Irish were. But this defeat, regardless of Sexton's absence, showed how the Irish have lost that intensity.
Talking of intensity, Ireland's New Zealand born centre Bundee Aki brings a heck of a lot of that in midfield, but he looks set to miss this match after receiving a very harsh three week ban for his red card against Samoa. He will be a huge miss. A chink of light for the men in green is that New Zealand have not had to perform to a high level since their opening match victory over South Africa way back on Saturday September Could they be off the pace for this one?
This is very different scenario from the last time these two nations met. Yes Ireland were brilliant in Dublin, but Steve Hansen's men where playing their 13th game of a long tough season, which had seen a three match test series against France, the Rugby Championship and facing England. This year is different, this is just game eight and just the fifth against a tier one nation. Rusty or fresh, we will find out this weekend. Then also consider this, the All Blacks do not lose two games in a row to the same side.
England last beat them in and have lost the next six matches; Australia turned-over a 14 man Kiwi side in August , only to be hammered seven days later; France won in New Zealand in , but have been made to pay for that insult, losing the next Even South Africa, the closest side to rival the World Champions currently, defeated them September last year and since then have drawn and been beaten twice in their following three meetings, including at this tournament.
If Ireland win, and they can, it would be the first time they've ever reached the semi-finals, but this weight of history could be another indication that this will be the All Black's day. Argentina have lost their last four matches against the Welsh, and won just once in the past eight meetings.
The French, despite only beating Wales once in their last eight meetings, will provide Wales with a few more pounding headaches than Los Pumas in this quarter final. As I've written many times this year, the French are at their poorest point in the professional era.
They've literally only performed in the opening 40 minutes of their opening match against a rusty Argentina and were so fortunate to cling on to that victory in the second period. But they will cause Wales problems for two reasons. One, they always have one big World Cup performance in them - this could be it. Two, more scientifically, their style is one Wales hate.
They are unpredictable and with nothing to lose they will throw the ball out-wide. Wales like a close quarters game, keeping the play around the breakdown. When it goes out-wide quickly and the game becomes open, their normally excellent, organised defence can be stretched, with holes being created regularly. Australia, in their second half, ultimately failed, comeback got the ball wide early in the phases and moved quickly and easily from halfway to the Wales try line. Once on that line they were forced to play one out crash-ball rugby and that's when Wales could repel their opponents and cling on to the win.
We witnessed the same pattern in Wales' victory over Fiji. But this still will be a major failure for Wales if they do not see this one out. They are a cohesive, mature side that believe in their systems and structures. Once in the lead they can squeeze the life out of teams, and if one or two scores behind they can still slowly work their way back into matches. They've displayed everything needed to get to a World Cup final without every being at their very best - like England in They are calculated where the French are wild and this showed in Warren Gatland's side Six Nations victory in Paris earlier this year, where they trailed at the break to eventually win In that second half Wales played the wet conditions well and they kept grinding forward slowly, wearing down their opponents.
Les Bleu hated the grind and lost concentration. They tried to play an open game, shot themselves in the foot and allowed Wales to win it - so typical of both sides. With handling so difficult in Japan due to the humidity I expect to see similar in this game. France's unpredictable flair used to give nightmares to their opponents, but now they lack the skill to execute this game plan to the highest levels required in the big games, and Wales' simple, perfect execution of their own tactics is what should win out eventually.
The AB's should have an advantage in the loose in my opinion. I really like the French loose-forward combination - Dusautoir and Bonnaire are incredibly hard-working players, while Harinordoquy can be a big threat for the back of the scrum, but I believe the AB's trio is the best in the world. I'm still not convinced about Parra at 10, but he has been pretty solid there.
It will be interesting to see how expansive France play - I'm sure they would have learnt from the AB's v Australia game that the AB's back three are all very strong under the high ball! Cruden has looked very comfortable in AB's 10 jersey; the more confident he gets the more he will attack the French defensive line too. If he does attack the French defensive line he, along with Nonu, could cause some serious damage in the midfield.
I hope the AB's play a reasonably expansive game when the get the chance. Out of these cookies, the cookies that are categorized as necessary are stored on your browser as they are essential for the working of basic functionalities of the website. We also use third-party cookies that help us analyze and understand how you use this website.
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Oct 31, · Betting line: + at Record: There is a hint of deja vu about Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final between England and South Africa. These two teams met . Oct 20, · Rugby World Cup RWC THE FINAL!!! France vs. New Zealand. Thread starter TRF_Ezequiel; Start date. Rugby World Cup Form Narrowly beaten by Ireland and workmanlike vs Russia, the USA are in decent form and are a side that will try and follow the Irish template and batter the Aussies at .