England don’t play this weekend, but there are still some interesting fixtures to look forward to, particularly with group rivals France in action again.
Here are my predictions for this weekend’s matches.
France v Italy
There are several changes for France from the team that lost to Scotland last weekend, and it’s a dangerous looking team. Romain Ntamack starts at fly-half with plenty of pace out wide, leaving the big forward pack to provide the ballast. It’s a strong Italy side, but if France have any designs on making the knockout stages of the World Cup, they need to win this sort of match France by 18
Fiji v Tonga
This is a tricky one to pick with little knowledge of the team lineups and respective strengths. It’s in Auckland, so there’s no home advantage to fall back on, and whilst Fiji have the better overall record against Tonga, it was Tonga that won the most recent fixture. I’m guessing and picking Fiji. Fiji by 7
Wales v Ireland
Joe Schmidt’s men had a dreadful afternoon at Twickenham on Saturday, and alarm bells have started ringing amongst Ireland fans. It’s a cliche that you can’t read too much into these RWC warm-up results, but they’ll need some drastic improvement if they are to make it beyond the quarter-finals in the World Cup. There are several changes to the lineup, but there are some quality players on show and I suspect they’ll have been working on their defence all week as they go back to basics. Against them is an experimental Welsh side with a number of fringe players pushing for selection, and I fancy Ireland to cause an upset here. Ireland by 4
Georgia v Scotland
Gregor Townsend’s squad are in Tbilisi with several first-choice players taking on Georgia. Greig Laidlaw and Finn Russell will run the show at 9 and 10, behind a strong back row featuring John Barclay, Hamish Watson and Matt Fagerson, whilst Sam Johnson returns to the centres. I’d expect this to be a comfortable Scotland victory. Scotland by 23