It’s the ‘business end’ of the tournament this weekend, and that makes predicting results that much harder. I’ve had a pretty good run over the last 40 matches, so let’s hope the last 8 are somewhere near the mark.
After the northern hemisphere games tomorrow, my nails will be bitten, my nerves wracked and my hair torn out (if I had any), but I’m backing victories for Ireland and England in a partly ‘heart over head’ move.
The first quarter-final could be the game of the tournament so far, with both teams in fine form and keen to play a fast game. Sam Warburton has another big job ahead of him to contain Sean O’Brien, but he has Dan Lydiate back alongside him to strengthen their back row. Rory Best is fit, which is great news for Ireland, and in my view gives them a marginal edge up front, and I think they’ll have just enough experience and guile out wide to get through to the semis.
England v France…who knows? The French have been a complete shambles of a side, whilst England haven’t been much better. I’m wary of a French backlash, but rumours of unrest in the camp suggest that they might be keen to get home, so I’ve gone for an England win.
Then on Sunday, I’m hoping for a South Africa win over the Wallabies, and this is where their pedigree in knockout rugby might begin to count – a superior pack and a deadly kicker should see them through, although the Aussies will be keen for redemption and are more than capable of a win. Boks to go through for me.
It’s a shame that the final match of the weekend is looking slightly one-sided, even with Colin Slade pulling the strings instead of Dan Carter. I have a feeling the All Blacks will run riot for a comfortable win – and perhaps building up a false confidence before the semis in the process!
Here are my Rugby World Cup quarter-final predictions – let me know what you think.
Ireland v Wales: Ireland by 5
England v France: England by 6
South Africa v Australia: South Africa by 8
New Zealand v Argentina: New Zealand by 33