Saturday, October 08, 2011

I Prophesy ...

Laban, last night :

I don't know why anyone's discussing this game, which pales beside the titanic encounter some two hours earlier.

Game 1 - two teams in great form and closely matched. Frightens me to think about it. A tragedy that one team must lose.

Game 2 - one team that's "good enough", one team having a 'mare of a tournament. Unless the frogs can come out of the blocks and get ten points up very early, England should win and a couple of French be sent off. A tragedy that one team must win.

Well, the Frogs did come out of the blocks - although if England had scored just before half time, rather than dropping the ball twice, I still think they'd have won. As for the Welsh - well, the first-half pace of that game was unbelievable. Ireland believed they could break them as they'd broken Australia, choosing to go for the corner with kickable penalties. A reasonable call but as it turned out a wrong one. But few teams could have survived that Irish first-half onslaught and only conceded three points - that half was scary to watch in its pace and intensity. Along with Shaun Edwards, whose work on the defence has worked wonders, the Welsh fitness coaches deserve great credit. The missed Irish tackles when Jonathan Davies scored looked like the work of tired men, magnificent though Ireland were. Wales were still putting in a huge workrate up to the whistle.

Well, what a game. Now glory awaits.

On current form, Wales must be favourites. But you can never write off the French in a World Cup. Ask New Zealand. Ask them again.

UPDATE - I really ought to mention Scotland. Best World Cup performances I've seen from them since when - 1991 ? Should have beaten both Argentina and England, played some fine rugby. Just needed a line-breaker or two - without tries a team won't go that far.

Wales have the other problem - they've not had a truly reliable kicker since the days of Thorburn and Jenkins. A Chris Paterson or a Dan Parks - Scotland are well off in that department. If the Welsh defence continues to prove robust, it could be that kicks would decide.

And the form man there is New Zealand's Piri Wipu. 7 out of 8 today ain't bad.

There's always a chance on current form that the cup could be decided by the ref. Bryce Lawrence was not very good today - it takes a lot to get Laban supporting SA, but right up to the end, when he ignored Aussie tackling round the neck right in front of him (and in front of the posts) a lot of Oz transgression went unpunished. I hope Wales have studied all the refs well - there seems to be a big difference in interpretation between Southern and Northern refs regarding when the tackler should release, and when the tacklee should release the ball. Fair play to the Aussies though - 17% possession and they won ! Almost unheard of.


dearieme said...

The first two Welsh tries were superb: as you imply, the third one looked to be a case of a nimble back running at a bunch of traffic cones.

dearieme said...

It was as if the 'boks had fielded a team of 15 fine forwards - a good defence, excellent set pieces, good possession, wonderful continuity, and territorial dominance. What they lacked was enough footballing ability to open the Ozzie defence and score tries. Decent contest, though.

Anonymous said...

NZ Vs SA would have been a mouth-watering semi final. Instead thanks to the bizarre decisions of Bryce Lawrence this won't happen.

An argument for barring refs from countries that are playing in the knockout stages perhaps?

AgainsTTheWall said...

Wales have the other problem - they've not had a truly reliable kicker since the days of Thorburn and Jenkins

Well I bow to your knowledge on this one but seems a bit harsh on Steve Jones.