After a full-house of predictions in Round 1, including four margin points in a round that had a couple of 50/50 picks, I’m feeling confident as the fixtures get a little easier to call.
Here are my Rugby World Cup predictions for Round 2 on Superbru.
Russia v Samoa
The Russians did better than I expected against Japan, leading the game until just before half-time, but it was mainly due to Japan’s nerves and errors rather than anything Russia were able to create. It doesn’t look like they’ll string together enough phases to score many tries, but they’ll dig in and make life difficult for the opposition. They have an unchanged lineup, and I would think fatigue will be a factor, and I’m predicting Samoa by 28 on the basis that Samoa should score 4 or 5 tries and keep the Russian attack largely at bay.
Fiji v Uruguay
It was great to see Fiji give Australia such a scare on Saturday, sucking the Wallabies into a frantic pace of play and forcing errors with both speed and incredible physicality. I’m not expecting a great deal from Uruguay in this tournament, who lost to both Spain and Namibia in June, but with 12 changes to the Fiji lineup it probably won’t be a huge score. Fiji by 23
Italy v Canada
The Azzurri were the highest points-scorers of the World Cup over the opening weekend, putting 47 past Namibia on Sunday, but they didn’t look terribly convincing. There are no lineups yet, but I expect them to pick their second-string side for this one, and whilst they should beat Canada, it could be quite close. Canada will be fresh, but with only one win in 2019 so far (over Chile in February), they’ll be underdogs. Italy by 9
England v USA
Eddie Jones’ first-choice lineup looked fairly ordinary in their opening win against Tonga, and whilst their defence held firm throughout, there were so many errors in attack that they never really got going. I’d expect plenty of changes to the starting team for this game given the short turnaround, and I would expect the defence to keep the USA at bay and with all the attacking assets at their disposal, England really should be scoring 6 or 7 tries. England by 43
Argentina v Tonga
The Pumas were unfortunate to lose a very tight game to France, having mounted an impressive comeback in the second-half. Defeat means that they can’t afford any more mistakes in order to qualify for the knockout stages, and they probably won’t take Tonga lightly. The Tongans made life awkward for England, and will do the same against Argentina, but they are limited in attack and won’t get much joy from the Argentina defence either. Argentina by 28
Japan v Ireland
The Japanese were the one tier 2 nation that did look a threat in attack, and they might actually threaten Ireland more than Scotland managed on Sunday. But Ireland’s defence is one of the best in the tournament, and they should be able to cope and then score a few tries of their own. I’ll keep an eye out for team news for this one, but I’m picking Ireland by 18 for now.
South Africa v Namibia
I think this could be ugly for Namibia in the African derby, with the Springboks smarting from defeat over the All Blacks. I’d expect several changes to the lineup, but they will still be superior in every facet of the game and they should dispatch the Welwitschias. South Africa by 58
Georgia v Uruguay
I’m making a provisional pick for now, but will be paying attention to how Uruguay perform against Fiji on Wednesday. It’s a tight turnaround though which will test the depth of a relatively limited squad, but they might fancy a win over Georgia more than Fiji and target this for a solitary World Cup win. Georgia will probably win though. Georgia by 16
Australia v Wales
I think the Wallabies will have learnt a lot from their meeting with Fiji, in which they took 60 minutes to adapt their gameplan to focus on their own strengths rather than emulating Fiji’s game, eventually scoring twice through a rolling maul. Adapting to that will have given them confidence, and realistically they know what sort of approach Wales will bring. I look a Wales’ record against Australia, the fact that Wales’ attack has been limited by Gareth Anscombe’s injury, and I’m leaning towards the Wallabies scoring more points than Wales. Australia by 6
Scotland v Samoa
The Scots need to show some dramatic improvement if they are to make the quarter-finals, and based on their performance against Ireland, both Japan and Samoa will fancy their chances of knocking them over. The two teams were in the same group at the 2015 World Cup too, with Scotland winning a high-scoring game by just 3 points. I’ll keep an eye on Samoa’s performance against Russia, but it would be a brave call to predict a Samoa win at this stage, so I’m going with Scotland by 9 for now.
Follow Hutch on Twitter: @Hutch_James