Friday, October 16, 2015

Preview : New Zealand v France

by Emma McGarry


Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Saturday, October 17, Kick off - 20:00

New Zealand are averaging 6 tries per match, the stats speak for themselves. They are however entering this quarter final with no real, valuable game time. Argentina gave them a good run around but Tonga, Georgia and Namibia were, although entertaining, not challenging enough. The Kiwis rarely looked comfortable on the pitch during the pool stage, and were somewhat indisciplined earning 3 yellows. I reckon New Zealand may be anxious ahead of facing France, given the history between the sides of quarter finals. We know that France know how to cause an upset.

The All Blacks have named an incredibly experienced side to face France. McCaw returns as captain, while Savea is on the left wing again in place of Naholo. Milner-Skudder and fullback Ben Smith complete what is an exceptionally dangerous back three.

After losing to Ireland last weekend, France have the unenviable task of facing the All Blacks in their quarter final.  If they couldn't score one try against an Ireland missing some hugely influential players (Paul O’Connell,  Peter O’Mahony and Johnny Sexton) then what chance have Les Bleus got against the All Blacks' star studded team. The fact is to beat New Zealand you have to score tries.

France have made 3 changes to the side that faced Ireland last weekend, Parra named at scrum-half while centre Bastareaud has been dropped from the starting lineup in favour of Dumoulin and flanker Le Roux replaces Damien Chouly.

As this World Cup has already shown us, anything can happen. Just cast your mind back to South Africa and Japan. However, the likelihood of France beating New Zealand to make it to the semis is very low as it stands. Reports of mutiny from the French camp are arising, whether this will have any effect on their performance remains to be seen.

Prediction? I hope the French players like airplane food...

Teams:
FRANCE 15 Scott Spedding 14 Noa Nakaitaci 13 Alexandre Dumoulin 12 Wesley Fofana 11 Brice Dulin 10 Frédéric Michalak 9 Morgan Parra
1 Eddy Ben Arous 2 Guilhem Guirado 3 Rabah Slimani 4 Pascal Papé 5 Yoann Maestri 6 Thierry Dusautoir (captain) 7 Bernard Le Roux 8 Louis Picamoles
REPLACEMENTS 16 Dimitri Szarzewski 17 Vincent Debaty 18 Nicolas Mas 19 Damien Chouly 20 Yannick Nyanga 21 Rory Kockott 22 Rémi Tales 23 Mathieu Bastareaud

NEW ZEALAND
15 Ben Smith 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder 13 Conrad Smith 12 Ma'a Nonu 11 Julian Savea 10 Daniel Carter 9 Aaron Smith
1 Wyatt Crockett 2 Dane Coles 3 Owen Franks 4 Brodie Retallick 5 Sam Whitelock 6 Jerome Kaino 7 Richie McCaw (captain) 8 Kieran Read
REPLACEMENTS 16 Keven Mealamu 17 Joe Moody 18 Charlie Faumuina 19 Victor Vito 20 Sam Cane 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow 22 Beauden Barrett 23 Sonny Bill Williams

Emma McGarry (@EmmaKMcGarry) - Hugely interested in all aspects of rugby. Supporter of Irish and Leinster Rugby. "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad" - Brian O'Driscoll

*****

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