Pitchside with Ferris: My take on the Rugby World Cup so far

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Ireland v Scotland recap  

The highlight for me from last weekend was simply being an Irish Rugby fan and seeing them getting off to a fantastic start.

I was slightly apprehensive before the Scotland game. The manner of the Irish performance was the most professional out of any of the teams in my opinion.

I think Ireland thrived off Scotland’s mistakes, getting the better of all the 50/50 balls. Considering the weather conditions and the few injuries they had in the week leading up to the match, it was such a professional job and they took Scotland to the cleaners.  

Ireland v Japan

I think in the second half of the game they reduced their physicality leaving Scotland with a lot more possession.

The advice I would give Ireland going into the Japan game, is to try and have the upper hand throughout the eighty minutes when it comes to possession. If you can control ownership of the ball, you can usually control the game a lot better.  

Ireland can rest some of their key men like Johnny Sexton who didn’t take his kicking duties last weekend due to a strain.

Others like Bundee Aki and Peter O’Mahony can take a week of rest also. But I think Japan will do the same. They are going to try and target the Scotland game to get that victory.

But I have to say, I feel Ireland are going to do another job and hopefully another 20-25-point win.  

Ireland v Russia  

Again, I think there will be a lot of changes here. Pointers I would give for this game would be to be very clinical. Guys like Jacob Stockdale if he is playing or Keith Earls if he gets a run out, can find themselves on the scoresheet a few times.

The guys need to make the Russian’s work and capitalise when given the opportunity. Another big win for Ireland on the horizon in my opinion. 

Ireland potentially facing South Africa in Quarter-Finals  

I thought South Africa’s performance against New Zealand for the most part was very good. I think they switched off maybe 20 minutes into the game, even with New Zealand presenting them with plenty of opportunities.

On the other hand, Ireland facing South Africa was a game we knew was probably going to come even before the World Cup kicked off. Joe Schmidt will be planning for South Africa over the next three weeks.

He will be coming up with set plays and different options when it comes to kicking game. I think the Ireland team will be very well prepared going into this game if it does play out that way. I can’t see Ireland slipping up before then, or anybody else beating South Africa.  

England v Tonga recap  

England had a nervy start, it was a tough 20 minutes wearing Tonga down. The Tonga lads are huge, very strong and pretty emotional types of guys also.

They are representing their country and want to do everyone proud. England missed a couple of opportunities in the second half.

But they are a very strong team and are well coached by Eddie Jones who has experience of being in Japan. I think they are going to be a tough team to beat going forward.  

Australia 

Australia always seem to peak around World Cup time. There was controversy regarding their game against Fiji.

There were some high tackles, one or two of the Aussies could have gotten a yellow card or even worse. Fiji is known for running out of steam, so Australia were waiting out their time.

There was a period in the game where I believe they were 24-12 down and they kicked for the post and that brought them within one score. As soon as they got their noses in front, they never looked like losing again.   

Australia v Wales  

The Welsh game at the weekend is going to be the pick of the bunch. This is the game I am most looking forward to watching.

Wales were going through the motions for the most part playing against Georgia, I feel they may have preferred a tougher game to get them prepared for this big clash.

It is not the end of the world if either team loses, but if I was to place one value bet it would be Australia sneaking it by a couple of points.  

My World Cup winner after weekend one  

I like to be optimistic with the way Ireland performed so professional. I think other teams will be wary of Ireland after that performance against Scotland, so I believe Ireland are contenders.

Along with New Zealand as they showed the world if you play loosely against them for fifteen minutes, you could find yourself 2-3 tries behind as they are so good at turning over the ball. I think South Africa still have some oil left in the tank along with England too.    

Back working with Eddie O’Sullivan 

Eddie is a quirky character; he gave me my first cap for Ireland back in 2006. We’ve known each other for quite a long time and have worked together on several different broadcasts. But to now be on a panel with him working regularly week in, week out.

He knows his stuff, he’s a good coach and I have the upmost respect for him. We work well together and always have a bit of banter. Hopefully we will be working on a lot more games together and more Ireland games in the tournament too.  

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: 

  • Argentina to beat Tonga  
  • Ireland to beat Japan  
  • Georgia to beat Uruguay
  • Australia to beat Wales
  • Scotland to beat Samoa

Stephen 

Check out the latest Ladbrokes Rugby World Cup odds here! 

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Stephen Ferris

After a fine backrow career with Ulster and Ireland, Stephen Ferris will be sharing his thoughts on all the big rugby talking points here on Ladbrokes News, including the World Cup and Six Nations.