This thread discusses the Content article: [url=http://www.thefreekick.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&Itemid=67&id=83]Rugby World Cup Pool B Preview
Good article Smelly. Welcome to the hallowed ranks of TFK authors.
I was pretty undecided on who I thought would win this group a couple of days ago but having considered it now I think Wales will shade it. They’re obviously entirely unpredictable as you point out and it’s impossible to have much beyond blind faith in their abilities but I reckon the home tie at the Millenium Stadium will give them the edge.
Australia had a cracking Tri Nations, and surprisingly their pack performed admirably against both South Africa and New Zealand. They still have class backs, who destroyed Ireland 18 months ago with brilliant running lines. Add to that the Australian factor where their cricket teams, rugby teams, swimmers etc. just don’t like losing especially in finals and it’s a formidable package.
The other side of the coin is Wales’ advantage in the front row and a very capable back 5 that will give Wales a slight edge up front. And then you have the Welsh backline which isn’t as structurally excellent as the Australians but it has a sort of manic ability to create chances and I think it front of a passionate home crowd and with everything to play for in one game that the Welsh can beat them.
Looking at the betting:
Wales are 5-2 to win that match or 10-11 with a 10 point head-start. Reasonable value but not amazing. They are also 5-2 to win the group which is poor because if they draw with Australia then you’d imagine the Aussies would have racked up bigger scores against the minnows so I think the value is in the one-off match betting.
I’d say they’ll probably give Australia a bit of a scare in the first half, but the Aussies uber-professionalism and know-how, typified by George Gregan, should see them pull away.
Though admittedly you never really know with Wales. As you say Rock, they’re kind of mental and if they start getting a bit of momentum throwing the ball around, then anything can happen. Ryan Jones is a big loss for them though and I think Michael Owen’s vastly over-rated. Good hands but that’s it. The opposite to Anthoney Foley. Does none of the unseen stuff and isn’t a great carrier. Also, as far as I can tell from interviews, pretty much thick as bottled pigshit.
Pity Caucaunibuca’s not playing. He was the size of a house when Agen played Leinster last year but he was still impressive. Think the drugs ban actually runs out before their second game, so maybe a crawling return to the squads still possible if they pick up an injury.
That assessment of Michael Owen is bang on the money I have to say. Don’t understand what the attraction is with him. He has one trick which is getting his hands free in contact but he never gets involved in the nuts and bolts of back row play.
Apologies to smelly. I haven’t got around to reading the article on the front yet and was just scanning through this thread and saw rocko mentioned something about agreeing with smelly about Wales. So it’s only rocko who’s gone mental by predicting them then.