I feel Scotland will beat Samoa. Scotland have a quarter-final spot within their grasp and I think this will give them that extra bit of incentive to go for the win. I think it will be close because Samoa will not be happy with their RWC having only won one pool game out of three so far. This is their last game and Samoa will want to restore some pride. If Samoa do win it will make it very interesting for Japan because if Scotland lose and Japan beat the U.S.A then Japan will make it through to the knockout stages for the first time.
One of the big ones of the weekend is Wales vs Australia. Australia have been playing well and apart from Michael Hooper and maybe Will Skelton the team has not be disrupted by injuries anywhere near as badly as Wales have experienced.
Michael Cheika has maybe been forced to, but I feel quite boldly, thrown into the mix the 21 year old Sean McMahon. McMahon along with Dean Mumm coming into the second row, indicates to me that Australia will want to play with speed and width as both these players are mobile hard workers.
Out wide just might be where Wales will be susceptible with George North filling in at outside centre. This is a gamble as defensive duties at no.13 are very difficult and North may find himself out of his depth moving from wing to outside centre. Warren Gatland has tried to match the Australian mobility in the pack by including Justin Tipuric and Luke Charteris. The back row of Sam Warburton, Tipuric and Toby Faletau to me looks awesome and has the potential to do major damage.
I am concerned that the Welsh tight five does not look solid enough. Australia have proved on numerous occasions this year that they have made huge strides forward in improvement in their tight work. So the selection of Charteris ahead of a harder player like Jake Ball or Bradley Davies makes me feel like the added mobility to the Welsh pack will be used to chase after the Wallabies rather than used for their own attack. The Wallabies to win by 10 points.
I wouldn’t want to be the English team that are going to run out at the Manchester City Stadium for their final pool game against Uruguay. There has been a backlash against the team and management for England’s failure to make it out of the pool of death.
Many questions are being asked and there is an uncomfortable feeling among the squad. The thing is England have to go out there and represent their country even if it is under such undesirable conditions. They have to find their stiff upper lip and pick themselves off the floor and just play for pride. England should win this one by 20 points or more.
Namibia have been impressive in relative terms, consider that many of their players are semi-professionals and have limited resources and a limited rugby infrastructure to support them. Yet they scored a super try against the All Blacks and ran Georgia within two points.
Argentina have been very impressive in this RWC and dispatched Tonga with style. Argentina are no longer a team that just scrums well, they have backs that can carve up any defence. I think this match will be one sided and Argentina will win by 40 points or more.
Italy have been disappointing at this RWC. They looked a lot better against Ireland which coincided with Sergio Parisse returning to the team. Romania have played well and would have been boosted by their victory over Canada. The Romanians have a good scrum and for the first time in forever we can say this is the Italians potential weakness. I feel the Italians have too many big Six Nations names to come unstuck but it will be close. Italy by 5.
France versus Ireland is a biggy. Both these teams have real aspirations of going far in this tournament or even, dare we say it, win it. Both teams have had moments where they have looked good, and moments where they havn’t looked so good. This may turn in to an epic battle. I feel Cardiff will again be flooded with Irish support and Irish passion will carry their team to victory. Maybe only by 1 or 2 points.
This could turn out to be Japan’s first opportunity to get through to the Knockout stages but I think that America will win because they will be hell bent on getting a win out of this RWC. I think their physicality will take its toll but Japan have proved first against the Boks then against Samoa that they can achieve the unthinkable. U.S.A by 2 points.