It is hard to believe that a week has passed already, this World Cup is just flying by. After the smorgasbord that was last weekend, we were supposed to calm down into a few one-sided games were the favourite eased comfortably through, nobody told Uraguay though! For anyone that might have missed it, here is how the weeks games went down.
Wales 43 def Georgia 14
Wales were determined not to start slowly like some of the other tier 1 nations have done so far this tournament and exploded out of the blocks with an irresistible first 20 minutes that even saw them out scrum the much vaunted Georgian scrum. Once the Georgians settled into the game they held their own, showing enough to suggest that they will cause a few headaches over the rest of their matches. The match against Fiji could be one to watch with both sides showcasing completely different styles of play. In the final 20minutes of the match, the superior fitness and skill of the Welsh showed through and they comfortably edged away from the plucky Georgians. Good start from a Welsh side hoping to go very deep this tournament.
Samoa 34 def Russia 9
This was always going to be a tough match for the Russians with a short turn around from their opening loss to Japan. The Samoans in their first match of the competition looked sharper from the start and if not for a few handling errors would have gone ahead earlier than they did. The Samoans never really looked challenged by the Russians and showed they could be quite a difficult proposition for both Japan and Scotland.
Uruguay 30 def Fiji 27
Like Russia, Fiji also had a short turnaround from their first game into their second against an opponent playing their first game. Unlike Russia, Fiji was still expected to win and an early try for the Pacific Islanders did little to dispel this. The Uraguans kept things tight, playing to their strength and trying to stop Fiji from doing the same. It worked for them when the game and momentum did swing Uraguays way, they made no mistake, easing out to an unexpected lead. For most of the match, it was the Fijians who looked better than their opponents and even when they fell behind you got the impression it was only a matter of time before they swept back into the lead. It wasn’t to be. A determined Uraguay side held fast and recorded the first upset win of the tournament to date.
Italy 48 def Canada 7
Canada had shown some pretty good form of late and perhaps would have seen their match against Italy as a golden opportunity to follow in the Uraguans footsteps and make it two upset wins on the trot. The Italians had other ideas. From the start, both teams looked good on attack and created chances. The difference between the teams was some wonderful scrambling defence employed by the Italians which meant that while the Italians could turn their opportunities into points, the Canadians could not. The longer this went on, the more confidence the Italians gained, the more opportunities they created and converted, taking the game further and further away from the Canadians. The injection of the benches gave the Canadians some renewed vigour and they managed a late consolation try, but this match belonged firmly to the Italians.
England 45 def USA 7
England compensated for their short break between games by testing out their squad depth, ringing 10 changes to the side that got through their opening match against Tonga. The new combinations didn’t gel immediately it seemed with some sloppy handling costing England some point early in the piece despite looking more than a match for the USA across the park. In truth, England were a gear or two better than the USA in every facet of play and comfortably eased away over the course of the match. A moment of frustration or desperation late in the day saw USA backrower John Quill decide to acquaint his shoulder with Owen Farrell’s face and excused himself from the rest of the match, courtesy of the well deserved first red card of the 2019 World Cup.
Heading into this weekends games, let’s have a look at how the groups are evolving
If the green machine Ireland keep on winning as expected, then we could be left with an enticing three-way battle to get out of the group between favourites Scotland, hosts Japan and exciting dark horses Samoa. The match between Scotland and Samoa on Monday (still the weekend for some of us) could end up being pivotal in this battle, likewise the Japan vs Ireland game could prove important, but you suspect more for the margin than the result.
Italy have made a perfect start and have streaked away in Group B. While they would still likely need an improbable win against either the Blacks or the Boks to get out of the group (stranger things have happened!) they have put themselves in the best possible position to capitalise should there be a slip from either of the favourites.
Argentina needed to bounce back immediately from their opening round loss to France if they are to keep alive their hopes of advancing to the knock-out stages and they have the chance to do just that against Tonga this weekend.
Easily the biggest game over the weekend (at least from a Partisan point of view) will be the Wales v Wallabies clash on Sunday. Whilst both sides are almost guaranteed to progress following Fijis shock loss to Uraguay, neither team will want to drop a game here and give themselves a harder Quarter Final, likely against a dangerous looking England side. Looking forward to a big one here!
So let’s all settle in for a wonderful weekend of Rugby! See you on the other side!