New Zealand To Take On Australia, What Lies Ahead For The All Blacks In The Rugby World Cup Finals?
The New Zealand All Blacks defeated the South African Springboks on Saturday in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals with a final score of 20-18. Although the All Blacks were predicted to win, the South Africans were hopeful they could defeat New Zealand. The All Blacks are set to play Australia, the winner of the game against Argentina, in the finals for the championship on Saturday. Argentina will play the South Africans to determine who wins third place in the World Cup.
On Saturday, the All Blacks face Australia in their first ever meeting for the Rugby World Cup championship. The Bleacher Report made five bold predictions on how the teams would play and who would emerge as the champions.
New Zealand used its line out to defeat the South Africans in the semi-finals and wounded them where they hurt most: the set piece. Stealing four line outs, the New Zealanders lost none and South Africa’s De Jager, Etzebeth, and Matfield were unable to cope. Kane Douglas and Rob Simmons of Australia are simply not expected to be able to deal with the disruption New Zealand’s line out assault will cause, allowing the All Blacks to wreck the line out.New Zealand’s bench plays a crucial part in its ability to defeat Australia because of the All Blacks’ versatility. Flanker Sam Cane and versatile back Beauden Barrett, along with a wide variety in centers, offers the All Blacks an advantage because New Zealand knows how to make better use of its interchange men. Sonny Bill Williams will probably start as the center, adding to their strength on the field. In the two tight matches against South Africa and Argentina, New Zealand managed to score at pivotal moments by using replacements Can and Barrett.
Most World Cup games offer combined scores of less than 50. New Zealand and Australia were the exception when they previously played. In two previous matches in 2014, the combined scores were 71 and 57, respectively. In their last two matches, the total combined scores were 46 and 51 respectively, leading to predictions this will be a high scoring game. Although the Bleacher Report predicted that New Zealand will win by a score of 30-25, not everyone is convinced that the All Blacks can win.
In the Australian, rugby great Michael Lynagh said that Australia was fully capable of defeating New Zealand in the finals. Lynagh, who played for the 1991 Australian team that won the World Cup that year, said the Australians could more than match New Zealand in the finals.
“I think Australia has to remain faithful to the way they play the game: the creative backs the great pace. Argentina’s scrum put us through the wringer, but Australia’s defence was outstanding. Austrlia is one of the few teams (that can win), Australia can beat New Zealand, this is a huge opportunity for Australia.”
Australia does have injury concerns, though. Matt Giteau and Israel Folau have both been injured, although Folau is expected to return and may be 100 percent in time for the game. David Pocock, who suffered an injury to his calf, survived a brutal test of his injury and managed to play.The Wallabies are excited to finally get a shot at the New Zealand All Blacks, as the Wallabys’ last championship final in the Rugby World Cup was in 2003, when they were defeated by the English in a close score of 20-17.
Adam Ashley-Cooper, who has played wing, outside centre, and fullback, voiced his excitement about finally getting a chance to play New Zealand.
“All I have wanted to do is play in a rugby world cup final. I am there, and I’m extremely stoked.”
Do you think Australia can beat New Zealand? Will it be a high scoring game as predicted or will the two teams fight for every point?
[Photo Credit Gallo Images / Getty Images Sport]