The last time we reached the World Cup Quarter Finals, I was an All Blacks supporter and it was a night that Southern hemisphere rugby would rather forget with France and England dumping New Zealand and Australia out of the tournament. This time around, Ireland’s win over the Wallabies meant that the quarter final bracket was split into hemispheres. Here’s how they went down.
IRELAND 10 WALES 22
I caught the second half of this game at the pub before Brisbane Roar played their season opener. Apparently the Irish only caught the second half of the game as well. They let the Welsh run out to an early lead and never fully recovered. They conceded three tries and two of them had some rather soft defence. Why didn’t you play this rubbish against the Wallabies dammit. A real crash back down to Earth for the Irish who were flying high after an undefeated group stage. Wales meanwhile lost their first game against the Springboks but have built from there and continued to improve with each game. A dark horse to make the final.
FRANCE 19 ENGLAND 12
It was pretty funny seeing all the despondent Irish supporters at the pub sticking around and throwing their support behind France, including a raucous rendition of their national anthem. France did That Usual World Cup France thing of playing like garbage during the group stage and then inexplicably finding a fifth gear when its counts. They absolutely blitzed a shellshocked English side in the opening thirty minutes. They ran out of gas in the second half but it was enough to see them through and end Johnny Wilkinson’s run on rugby’s biggest stage. It’s been hard to assess England’s performance in this tournament. They clearly have a talented squad but played pretty poorly in several games (notably against Scotland and Argentina). Not unlike the Wallabies I guess.
SOUTH AFRICA 9 AUSTRALIA 11
The most nerve wracking and intense game of rugby that I can recall seeing. This match will be remember for South Africa’s incredible statistical dominance and Quade Cooper possibly playing the worst game that anyone in a Wallabie jumper has played. First the numbers. 80% of the game was played in the Wallabies’ half. The Wallabies completed zero 5+ phases of play. They lost five of their own lineouts. They made over 100 tackles compared to the Springbok’s 30. And yet somehow, they managed to knock out the defending champs. Cooper was horrendous and had one of those games where nothing goes right. He probably missed a double digit number of tackles, kicked the ball out on the full a couple of times, had a kick charged down and basically looked completely limp in attack. What saved the squad was Genia’s cool defensive work in the backline and David Pocock who must have turned over the possession for the Wallabies about five or six times. An incredible game to watch.
South African coach Peter De Villier’s resigned shortly after the game. I’ll miss that crazy fella with his immaculate moustache and his weird, occasional racist outbursts.
NEW ZEALAND 33 ARGENTINA 10
“Read it and Weepu”
When Argentina scored the opening try of the game and converted it to take the lead, All Blacks fans were in for a shock. They were actually witnessing an All Blacks game that was still somewhat competitive after the opening twenty minutes. It really took until around the hour mark for the ABs to run away with it. An impressive showing from the Pumas who have really come a long way in the last four years.
An interesting note to the game was that Colin Slade appeared to pick up an injury effectively giving Aaron Cruden the coveted Number 10 spot by default.
Four pretty awesome quarter finals, good advert for Rugby.
Gutted for England – but can’t really complain as France tore them apart in the first half. An England / Wales SF would have been an awesome spectacle. England just didn’t seem to show up until the 60th minute. Probably the biggest highlight when Banahan smashed through the french line setting up Cueto’s try.
The Aus / SA game was immense! Probably the most brutal game I have seen since the Lions series a couple of years ago. For me David Pocock and the captain Horwell (?) were the difference – Horwell is one of the best leaders in the game right now.
Wales – looking really sharp – they have to be favourites for the finals now!!
Agreed – all the games offered something different and were a good advertisement for the versatility of the game.
Your picks to win the semis?
I am going for a France – Australia final! Wales will bottle it and NZ will choke.
An Australia vs France final would be amazing.