Just one close encounter in quarter finals
The Rugby World Cup quarter finals showcased some top class rugby. In the first quarter final England easily disposed of the underperforming Wallabies. Their coach Eddie Jones’ gamble to replace the inform George Ford at fly half by their captain Owen Farrell paid dividends.
It made for the return of stalwart centre Harry Slade and both players excelled. With the boot, Farrell kicked four conversions and four penalties for a clean kicking sheet for the day. Australian left-winger Marika Koroibete scored while their fly-half Christian Lealifano kicked three penalties and the solitary conversion. The final score was England 40 – 16 Australia.
Ireland bid farewell not only to the World Cup but also to their most acclaimed coach Joe Schmidt on a resounding flat note. Tournament favourites, New Zealand set about their task quickly leaving attempting tacklers in their wake. Stand out players were Ardie Savea and loosehead prop Joe Moody while Aaron Smith reinforced that he is the best scrum-half in world rugby capping an excellent performance. Smith furthermore scored a brace of tries in his teams total of seven.
Ireland scored two tries, one by Robbie Henshaw and a penalty try. The final saw New Zealand burying a disappointing Ireland, 46 - 14.
In the third quarter-final, the flamboyant French, at their very best, took an early 12 – 0 lead against Wales. The remainder of the first half was evenly contested, however, France held favour at 19 -10. The game’s defining moment came ten minutes into the second half when France’s Sebastien Vahaamahina was caught thrusting his elbow into the jaw of Aaron Wainwright and rightfully given the red card.
With 14 men for the remainder of the match, Wales finally took the lead in the 74th minute when replacement forward Ross Moriarty bulldozed his way over and impeccable kicker Dan Biggar converted to make it 20 – 19, breaking French hearts.
In the last quarter final with Japan having acquired many new fans at RWC 2019, their coach Jamie Joseph must have felt they were in with a chance trailing the Boks by a small margin of 5-3 at half time.
The Boks driving the Japanese back by some forty metres in the second half was surely the highlight. Once the Boks kicked into top gear against their tiring but plucky opponents it was game over.
The brilliant Mdantsane born Makazole Mapimpi again scored a brace of tries while Faf De Klerk was awarded Man of the Match. It has to be said however that De Klerk’s kicking from the base needs to have more direction as we’ll be duly punished for pointless and inaccurate kicks against Wales and potentially New Zealand in the final.
Also, let’s hope Willie Le Roux can get through a game without dropping the ball. The full-time score Japan 3 – 26 South Africa. The first semi-final between New Zealand and England on Saturday starts at 10am at the International Stadium Yokohama while at the same venue South Africa will meet Wales on Sunday at 11am.