Ireland v Japan recap
I feel over the last six months to a year, Ireland have been inconsistent and they came up short against Japan.
Without Johnny Sexton playing, who is the talisman for Ireland, it is hard; he is the go-to guy when it comes to the likes of these big games.
Japan were fantastic and played one of their best games since beating South Africa back in the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Sometimes you must tip your hat to the opposition as the better team won on the day.
From an Ireland point of view, the team looked tired. They only had a six-day turnaround from the first game against Scotland.
I think the heat and humidity took its toll on them in the last half hour when Japan really stamped their authority on the game. It was a combination of missing key players, the humidity, and not playing to their full potential.
Ireland making it past the quarter-finals
I still believe Ireland can make it past the quarter-final stage. When it comes to knockout stages it is whatever team pitches up on the day.
We have seen Japan pitch up on their day and they sprung a surprise, so why can’t Ireland do this facing either South Africa or New Zealand?
I think Ireland will go into that game as massive underdogs due to their defeat to Japan.
If the next couple of games don’t go to plan and they don’t beat Russia or Samoa by say 50 points, then the critics will nevertheless be on Ireland’s case. I think of course they can do it, they just need to make it their day.
Johnny Sexton back on the field
Johnny has played 63 minutes in four World Cup warm-up games. He didn’t play much Rugby last season, so he needs to string a few games together.
I feel if he is 100% fit, he should start the next two games. It is key for the team he gets game time. I believe one of the worst things you can do is go into a game under-cooked.
A fully-fit Johnny Sexton going into a quarter-final is worth the risk of giving him game time over the next couple of weeks to make sure that happens.
Jack Conan’s injury and Jordi Murphy replacing him
Jack Conan should have started the last game and he probably would have if he hadn’t of gotten injured. It’s disappointing for the big fella as he’s struggled with injuries over his whole career.
It will be tough for him to get back on that plane home, but he can be proud of his achievement getting to represent his country in a World Cup.
Jordi Murphy was pulled from the Ulster game on Friday night and was straight onto a flight the next day.
I think it is important to give Josh van der Flier some time off. CJ is back on the bench and Peter O’Mahony who suffered a HIA concussion is getting a bit more game time.
Jordi Murphy is as steady as it comes. He is solid, doesn’t make too many mistakes and has leadership skills as he is used to being on a winning team with Leinster over the years and Ulster last year.
I think having someone like him around the squad is only a positive.
England v Argentina
England are still trying to find their groove and may be more direct in this game than they have been.
Owen Farrell might start at 10 and they could go with the big midfield with Tuilagi. Just before the World Cup kicked off, they were in sensational form.
Playing Tonga in their first game they didn’t blow them away the way everyone anticipated. However, from then they have been building up slowly and have so many options to choose from.
I think they could cruise to a nice victory here of 10-12 points if they play to their potential. Argentina to me are ill-disciplined at times and if you break them down there seems to be an element of doubt in them.
They think they can maul and scrum you to death and end up getting on top of you.
I think the game could be an arm wrestle for 40 minutes. If you look at Ireland, South Africa and New Zealand they should easily beat their opposition.
So maybe the England v Argentina game is the big one this weekend. It is two evenly matched teams and the way this World Cup has continued to throw up crazy surprises you never know what could happen.
Recap of last weekend’s games
Australia v Wales
This was a crazy game of Rugby, end to end, breathless stuff to watch. There was a feeling that either team could have won. If anything, Wales were the team that looked like they were going to fatigue, but they held out.
They are a very resilient bunch of guys. Alun Wyn Jones winning his 130th cap for Wales is an unbelievable achievement. It was a superb game and great advertisement for World Cup Rugby.
Scotland v Samoa
Scotland had a lot of errors in this game. I don’t think they are playing to their potential this World Cup.
Key players like Stuart Hogg can turn a game on its head in two minutes and make big moments happen. I think Samoa didn’t have many options when it came to attack or defense which led them to get lazy and sloppy.
Scotland scored some nice tries and can build some confidence from this game considering the start they got off to against Ireland.
Japan v Samoa
Japan will want to get a bonus point win to put them onto 14 points in the group and give them a nice cushion.
In 2015 they won three out of their four group games and didn’t qualify. They will have that in the back of their minds and they’ll want to go out and win all four group games if possible.
If they continue with the way they are playing, especially with the home support, this should come easy to them.
Their supporter’s emotions are so high, you have no idea how much that means to you as a player. For me, I think Japan will win and keep this momentum going as they are riding the crest wave.
New Zealand v Namibia (My banker this weekend)
I don’t think any of the tier-two nations have let themselves down yet. Everyone was expecting a couple of cricket scores out of Russia, Namibia and even Tonga coming into the World Cup.
They have stood up to the challenge and backed themselves, but I think after that heavy defeat against South Africa, Namibia are going to struggle facing New Zealand.
If it’s not by 50-60 points, I will be very surprised. I think New Zealand run the ball a lot better and if Namibia try to defend the same way they had against South Africa, it will be a hard day at the office for them.
I will be back next week with more Rugby World Cup talk in my exclusive Ladbrokes blog.
My five-fold acca
My Five-Fold ACCA for this weekend is:
- New Zealand to beat Namibia
- South Africa to beat Italy
- England to beat Argentina
- Australia to beat Uruguay
- Japan to beat Samoa
Check out the latest Ladbrokes Rugby World Cup odds here!