Time for Part 2 in our series of Pool previews ahead of the big kickoff this Friday…here with his thoughts on Pool B is Ciarán Duffy…
A much longer than 80 word preview
By Ciarán Duffy
It all kicks off this Friday. I have been entrusted with the honour of covering all ten Pool B games with 8-0 style for all the Harpin’ on kingdom to enjoy. So let’s have a quick rundown of what we’re in for.
The pool is made up of South Africa, Samoa, Scotland, Japan, and the United States of America. South Africa are the clear favourites here with Samoa and Scotland fighting it out for second place. Despite currently being ranked lower, Samoa were the second seeds in this pool when the draw was made. The key game between Samoa and Scotland will take place on October 10th in St.James Park. It’s during the last round of fixtures for the pool stages so it’s sure to be a cracker.
Warm-up wise, The Springboks are not coming in with a whole lot of momentum. They won their last game in mid-August against Argentina after finishing bottom of the Rugby Championship. The United States of America may be coming in off a poor Pacific Nations Cup, as well as a loss against Harlequins and Australia, but they will take a lot of confidence from the fact that the beat Japan earlier over the summer. Scotland will have reason to be optimistic after two wins against Italy, one of which was by over 40 points, and two narrow losses to Ireland and France in which they played reasonably well. Samoa will have the most momentum after performing well in the Pacific Nations Cup, and finishing off their warm-up period, which began with a solid performance against the All Blacks, with a win over Wasps. Japan only won the one game in the Pacific Nations cup and lost to both Samoa and the USA, but finished well with two wins against Uruguay as well as a win in a tight game against Georgia.
There are a few background issues, which may affect the performances of the teams, involved in some way. South Africa were at one stage asked to withdraw from the tournament due to racial quota regulations. Japan on the other hand, have had their position as host of the 2019 World Cup put in jeopardy because of stadium availability. Interesting to note that South Africa are the reserves to host the 2019 tournament if Japan find they cannot.
A few stats now. South Africa have 100% records against Samoa and USA in full test matches, and they’ve never actually played Japan. Samoa have a 100% record against the USA. Scotland have won all their games against Japan and the USA. And the USA have scored a total of 637 points against Japan in all the games they have played against them, which is their second highest total after Canada (1262). It’s worth pointing out as well that this is the fourth World Cup in a row that Samoa and South Africa have met in the pool stages.
For predictions, South Africa will win the group with reasonable comfort, and I’m going to tip Japan to edge the United States to avoid finishing bottom, the game takes place only four days after the United States take on the Springboks, which will provide Japan with an advantage. It’s a tough one to call between Samoa and Scotland, but I’m going to go with Samoa to make it to the quarterfinal, only just. The full fixture list is below. This pool is going to offer up some exciting matches, and it has a potential World Cup winner in it with South Africa.
19th Sept: South Africa – Japan
20th Sept: Samoa – United States of America
23rd Sept: Scotland – Japan
26th Sept: South Africa – Samoa
27th Sept: Scotland – United States of America
3rd Oct: Samoa – Japan
3rd Oct: South Africa – Scotland
7th Oct: South Africa – United States of America
10th Oct: Samoa – Scotland
11th Oct: United States – Japan
Ciarán Duffy (@VoiceQuakeDuffy) is a Leinster supporter who would watch any game of rugby while undoubtedly taking it too seriously. He enjoys over analysing and taking a pessimistic look at the bright side while talking about Irish, European, and World Rugby issues on and off the field.
TOMORROW…YES, YOU GUESSED IT, POOL C
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