Rugby World Cup Predictions: Quarter-finals

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Whilst we only have 8 matches left in the Rugby World Cup, things start getting serious now as each team remaining knows that 3 consecutive wins will see them lift the trophy.

With the stakes so high, the pressure increases and it makes predictions that much harder. Each one of these quarter-finals has a clear favourite, but any or all of them could see an upset.

Here are my predictions for this weekend’s quarter-final matches.

England v Australia
Having been confident of an England win earlier in the week, now that I’ve seen the team selections I’m less sure. Dropping George Ford, one of England’s best players in recent matches, seems like a risky strategy given that Owen Farrell hasn’t quite been at his best.

But the Wallabies have sprung a surprise or two of their own though, with young Jordan Petaia selected at outside centre and Will Genia partnering Christian Leali’ifano at halfback.

I think the English pack has the edge, and it looks like they’ll try to play as they did against Ireland in Dublin, with big ball-carriers running direct lines to get England on the front foot. I suspect we’ll see a fair bit of kicking from Farrell and Ben Youngs as they try to pressure the Wallaby set-piece, and they could expose some suspect defending from the likes of Kurtley Beale, Marika Korobeite and Petaia.

Having won the last 6 against the Wallabies, I’m backing England but my nerves will be on edge on Saturday morning.

England by 7 and Australia +8 on the handicap

New Zealand v Ireland
The All Blacks would have been cheering on Scotland against Japan on Sunday, as I suspect they’d much rather face the Scots than Ireland. They know that Ireland will bring great line-speed and a robust defence, looking for turnovers and to hold up the All Black attack in every way.

Based on their performances so far, Ireland won’t offer a great deal in attack outside of direct running, picking and going around the fringes with more than a few box kicks thrown in. They’ll test the young All Black back three, but my instinct says the World Champions will come through this and send Ireland home at the quarter-final stages yet again.

New Zealand by 9

Wales v France
I know some Welsh friends will be hoping I pick France for this one, such is my poor record in predicting Welsh defeats. I don’t particularly rate them as a team, but there is no questioning their winning mindset and their outstanding record of results over the last 12 months.

They have the measure of France and I’d expect them to make it to another semi-final.

Wales by 13 and Wales -7 on the handicap

Japan v South Africa
I think a repeat of South Africa’s win just before this World Cup is more likely than a repeat of the Brighton Miracle in 2015, despite Japan’s impressive record so far in this tournament.

Home advantage will most certainly be a factor, and this will be a fascinating clash of styles, with the Springbok power game looking to counter the Japanese efficiency, their crisp attacking game and the extraordinary precision in everything they do.

The bookies have the Springboks as comfortable winners, offering a 15-point handicap, but I think it will be closer than that, given what’s at stake.

South Africa by 9 and Japan +14 on the handicap

Follow Hutch on Twitter: @Hutch_James

15 thoughts on “Rugby World Cup Predictions: Quarter-finals

  1. Prob right on all counts. Don’t particularly see Lealiifano as a surprise though. Has played in tandem with Gregan already in the tourney. Agree about Pataia though. If Eng do, as predicted, likely kick the lard out of it, will they come unstuck as they did v the unrated Welsh in Cardiff? Never know for sure, but France have done nothing to upset the Welsh apple cart either. Don’t know about the AB’s cheering on the Jocks? Why, when Ireland have had those hammerings over the past yr, not least in Dublin & they even tripped up v Japan! The backward looking talk about 2/3 v NZ for Ireland is likely just that. The AB’s will look to do a number on Ireland, so the score line looks a bit skinny. By 15.. I hope! SA again in Japan? Too big, strong & for the Japanese, a bridge too far I fear. By 15.

  2. “Don’t particularly see Lealiifano as a surprise though. Has played in tandem with Gregan already in the tourney.“

    Leali’ifano and Gregan at halfback for this match would be a hell of a surprise!!

    Here are my calls:
    England by 12+
    NZ by about 20
    Wales by 6
    Japan by 2. Yes, seriously. And that’s despite initially calling SA as my top tip to win the entire RWC just before the tourny started. Japan have been absolutely superb and I don’t think SA can handle the fluidity and precision.

    1. All depends on SA’s preparation. If they don’t defend like beasts, Japan will take them. I have Japan sneaking it by a similar margin to the last outing. Smart money says Eng, Wal, NZ, SA go through. I hope
      a) that there is at least 1 upset
      b) that not all rested teams (Eng, NZ, Fra) either all win or all lose.

      I’d hate that to be a statistic. That all the rested teams win or they all lose. Ok, I’d be happy if they all lose as I’m Irish but that’s personal bias. Bias aside, it would put a big blemish on this world cup if they all win or all lose.

      1. hmm interesting point. I’m sure if they all win/lose there will be some that cry foul but the truth is the are positives and negatives of the additional weeks rest and it comes down to how well the management handle those. I was encouraged by the talk of a match intensity training session Probables vs possibles and i’m hoping we will be sharp on Sat

        Good luck to Ireland (i can’t help feeling you might need some)

  3. I agree with two of the four predictions.
    NZ are likely to run rampant and they will easily make double digits. Ireland have been far from convincing and NZ are looking frighteningly good. I find it amazing that two “outsiders” in Bridge and Reece have come in and taken the starting wing spots. Thus is the depth NZ have.
    Wales will be closer. The Welsh have been in good form in terms of winning matches the past year, but a lot of these performances have been lackluster in terms of the manner in which they have won. They have great defense but Aus showed that they arent impenetrable and France certainly have the backs and the flair to do damage. A calamity of errors by the French, imo, was the only reason Wales won this fixture in the 6N. It’s defense vs attack. One try can swing this result.

  4. Agree on the Eng vs Aus result but not scoreline. I think we will get a massive scare and then creep over the line.

    I’m not sure that NZ will run riot, it is knock-out rugby at the end of the day and Ireland will (or at least should) up their game considerably – they have the players with the pedigree to do so. I boldly predicted after the Autumn in a post on this blog that the one team NZ wouldn’t want to meet at RWC 19 is Ireland, so in the interest of accountability I am happy to put that comment back out there. On form though, it is hard to see past NZ and convincingly.

    I quite fancy the French to rattle the Welsh and if I were to pick one ‘upset’ for this weekend I will go with this one.

    If the South Africans can play the game they should play against the Japanese (tight & physical) then I also think that the Japanese World Cup will be over in a sobering way for them. I would be delighted if I am wrong on this front.

    1. Agreed.
      The old mantra goes”, You Hesitate,You Vacillate,You Die!”.Hoping for a good result against Oz,but have noticed a worrying tendancy for EJ to make changes too slowly,wheras earlier he was not scared of acting quickly.If changes need to be made at half time or earlier, make them.and No-One is exempt!.(One doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to know whom I am referring to!).

  5. I agree with SJ, and I can see an upset(?) with France progressing. There is little expectation on France from both their home media and fans with a QF being acceptable given where the squad is. I can see them havign fun and with high expectation on Wales we could see the pressure get to them.

    My heart sees a brave performance form Ireland but my head says NZ will run away with this about the 60min mark. For all the ‘big game’ Ireland may have in them, I am just not convinced they have it for the entire game and they are just low on confidence and you can see it. 15/20 margin to NZ but close until about 50/60

    1. I’ve got my predictions wildly wrong before, but I’m 2 from 2 so far this weekend and not too far off on those winning margins…

  6. I’ve been trying to figure the results of these games. It’s knockout in the far east. Anything can happen. Any of these fixtures are up in the air including JPN V RSA. Anything can happen. Please let the Refs have good days. Let the winners stand up and there be no ambiguity. They are all winners really. No gimmes in any of these matches for me. All these teams fought hard to get here. It’s on the day.

    1. Well, unfortunately from your perspective, there was nothing ambiguous about the NZ-Ireland game and England’s in was emphatic too, so they’re doing well so far…

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