World Cup Weekend Preview: 17-18th September

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After an exhilarating round of opening pool games, the top nations will once again take centre stage in key clashes that may well decide the fate of several out in New Zealand.

With talking points galore from “winning ugly” to playing conditions to kicking anomalies to the video referral system and beyond, the tournament has not been short of controversy or excitement so far! We’ve picked out a few of the most mouth-watering clashes for you to enjoy this weekend...

South Africa Vs. Fiji

The defending champions will be looking to stamp (no pun intended) their authority on the World Cup after completing the Great Escape against Wales last Sunday. Still, the Springboks will be in confident mood safe in the knowledge that they now own the highest competition win ratio of any nation at 88%. The last time they met the Fijians in a World Cup encounter ended in an epic quarter-final match in which the Boks emerged with a 37-20 victory.

The South Africans will need to be weary of a much-improved Fiji who have power and pace in all positions, as well as a flying wing who annihilated the Namibian defence by running home four tries in their last Pool game. With PUMA’s Fourie du Preez, Schalk Burger, Danie Rossouw, Gurthrö Steenkamp and Odwa Ndungane in their ranks, we think that the Boks might just have too much up front for the Islanders to cope with.

Australia Vs. Ireland

The biggest showdown in Pool C will see the Wallabies take on Ireland at a jam-packed Eden Park in Auckland. The head-to-head is set to be an absolute classic with the Irish wanting to proof a point after an indifferent warm-up campaign and performance against the U.S.A. Declan Kidney will have a close to full-strength side tomorrow with PUMA’s Tommy Bowe, Gordon D’Arcy and Jamie Heaslip all starting.

The Irish will look to minimise the impact of PUMA’s flying Australian winger in James O’Connor and we think the game may be won and lost in the back row. Whoever is able to dominate proceedings at the breakdown should be able to control the game and play how they want. Whatever happens, we’re sure it will be a thriller!

England Vs. Georgia

England will face an intensely physical battle in their Pool B match against the Georgian giants on Sunday. Despite a crushing England victory by 78 points in 2003, England players will still recall the physical challenge posed by the eastern Europeans who have grown as a rugby-playing nation ever since. Many of the Georgian forwards now ply their trade professionally in France, but should not pose England a significant attacking threat.

England make nine changes from the side that narrowly overcame Argentina and see the return of their first choice captain after injury niggles have plagued him since August. The core of the XV will be built around several PUMA stars including Manu Tuilagi, Shontayne Hape, Dylan Hartley, Simon Shaw, Tom Palmer and Nick Easter with Steve Thompson and Alex Corbisiero on the bench. England will look for the kind of quick ball and flowing game that brought them success in the Six Nations recently, hoping to avoid a test of strength in the forwards.

Who will emerge victorious this weekend?

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