The Black Ferns losing for the first time at a World Cup since 1991 – now who saw that coming? Well, 123 people, to be precise – just 1.6% of the SuperBru community. Hats off to you if you picked it! Round three takes place tomorrow, and there’s still plenty to play for in every pool.
This pool is a straight shoot out between England and Canada, both of whom have two bonus point wins to their name. And really, it’s incredibly tough to pick between either of them. Canada have one of the stars of the tournament in Magali Harvey, but England have looked strong across the board. Recent history between these two has been tight, England winning last year but Canada taking it on the previous two occasions. England have looked the more complete team so far, though, so I’m backing them to edge it. England by 3.
The other game is a dead rubber between Samoa and Spain, and a battle of size against speed. The Spaniards are vastly more experienced at this level, and should come out on top here. Spain by 15.
Ireland shocked the rugby world and wrote their name into history by beating New Zealand in Round two. It was a superb, gutsy performance, and one that almost guarantees them a semi-final spot. The only side standing in their way are Kazakhstan, and with all due respect to the Nomads, they have not looked like winning yet. A comfortable win for the Irish is on the cards. Ireland by 45.
The other game in this pool is much more interesting – the USA and New Zealand, with a win over Kazakhstan and a bonus point against Ireland apiece, can both qualify. The Black Ferns will be reeling from their defeat to the Irish, and know that only a bonus point win here will give them a chance of qualifying as a best runner-up. The Americans have played well, but don’t look quite as strong as the Irish, and I’d expect a Kiwi backlash here anyway. New Zealand by 15.
Again, this pool is all about one game – hosts France against Australia. The Australians need to win, and stop the French from getting two bonus points, to top the pool, while any kind of win will do for the hosts. The Australians have breezed through the first halves of their games so far, only to drastically take their foot off the pedal and fail to capture crucial bonus points – which puts the French in the driving seat. They’ve looked the more assured side, and in front of their home fans they should prevail. France by 7.
Wales vs South Africa is essentially another dead rubber (in terms of the semi-finals, anyway), but the Welsh are more likely to win here after what has been a woeful campaign for the South Africans. Wales by 10.
By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43