This was the fourth week of the tournament, and the last time we would see all twenty nations together in Union. It was now or never for many of the competitors, promising another exhilarating week of international rugby!
Wow! What a start to week four! Romania beat Canada with the biggest come back in World Cup history! There is just no end to th excitement of this pool stage! Fantastic stuff!
Fiji become the First Nation to formally exit the tournament, and it was sad to have seen the last of the Cibi. It was always going to be an impossible task for this proud rugby nation to escape the grasp of the doomed Group of Death. But Uruguay got their first World Cup try in 12 years – congrats! We’ll see you both next time!
After a brave defence, the Eagles held on at half time giving South Africa only a 14-0 lead, but the second half was not as kind to the USA as the Springbox racked up a whopping fifty points by the final whistle. USA were left dejected with the FT score of 64-0.
But for the Bokkes, it was an entirely different story, as winger Bryan Habana equalled rugby legend Jona Lomu’s World Cup try record by scoring a hattrick. Habana will have the opportunity to set his own record in the knockout stage!
Both Namibia and Georgia had something to play for in the day’s second match-up at Sandy Park. Namibia were looking to win their first ever World Cup game, but Georgia’s sights were firmly on the possibility of qualifying automatically for a place in RWC2019.
It was going to be a clash of giants, as Namibia’s Jacques Burger faced the gargantuan Gordoze of Georgia.
But no one expected the game that followed…
Burger suffered a head injury early on in the first half, leaving Namibia without their talisman for the remainder of the match. His team, however, put in a plucky performance as Burger encouraged enthusiastically from the sideline.
After what seemed like an endless first half (adding almost ten minutes to the end) Namibia managed to see off the Georgian attack and left the pitch with an unprecedented first half 6-0 lead. But it had come at a price, as Namibia started the second half with two men short, having picked up two yellow cards in the extra time of the first. After two quick tries from Georgia, Namibia seemed destined for a smashing.
Namibia, however, against all odds, ended the game within a point of stealing the win from Georgia’s grasp, and Kotze became Namibia’s leading point scorer as he converted his own try in the last quarter to close the gap. And there it was: Namibia’s first World Cup point! For Georgia, it was also a spectacular night, as they knew they could go home and start making preparations for Japan 2019! #RugbyIsOurGame
We later had it confirmed that Burger had played his last game for Namibia, his head injury preventing him from playing his final game against Argentina later in the week.
But quite fitting, he stated, to end his international career with a knock-out! Namibia’ll miss you Jacques!
The battle of the Pacific kicked off with a moving standoff between the Haka and the Sipi Tau, and the war song clearly galvanised the Tongans into an insanely brutal first half performance. The first half saw the All Blacks caught off guard and their nerves and frustration saw them end the first half with only a 14-3 lead and their leader Kieran Read in the bin.
But it was a tale of two halves as the sensational All Blacks came back with purpose and spectators were blessed with a try fest courtesy of Milner-Skudder and Nonu, the latter celebrating his 100th cap.
The All Blacks had convincingly put to bed any suggestion that they were nothing less than determined to defend their world title.
I would bet money on the fact that I was not the only person routing for a Samoan win yesterday afternoon, as a win for Samoa would have given Japan a place in the quarter finals for the first time ever.
But it wasn’t to be, as Samoa fell painfully short of pulling off yet another RWC2015 upset.
Lowest ever scoring game between these two countries. It was tense, and the win came down to a kick-off between Biggar and Foley. It was a try-less game, and Wales failed to get past the immovable brick-wall-like Wallaby defence.
Wales’ defeat meant Wales will face the South Africans at Twickenham next weekend and news that Liam Williams will be absent from the clash does not bode well for Welsh aspirations of progressing to the semis.
There was something quite poignant about watching the England team line up for the anthems for the last time at Twickenham, as their game against Uruguay was to be their last of the tournament. Having started with such promise three weeks ago against Fiji, the surprise defeat against Wales had sent an entire nation into mourning.
But they managed to end with a convincing win, and they should take heart by the fact that it was an exceptional set of circumstances that led them to this point, and to accept that it was just not England’s time.
Argentina were already through to the quarters, as runners up, but they ended their pool stage campaign with a comfortable 9 try win against Namibia. It was great to see Johnny Redelinghuys’ conversion attempt, which was impressively close and a great way to end the match and tournament for the Namibians! They made their captain Jacques proud, however, by scoring three brilliant tries against the Pumas, and prove that the minnows off rugby are no more.
I have loved watching the Namibians, and I hope to see them again at RWC2019!!
Thank you Jacques!
There was a lot at stake today between these two sides, as victory would give the winner an automatic place at RWC2019.
It was another try fest, as after a close start, and a late come back attempt by the Oaks, the Italians secured their third place, and we bid farewell to these two teams until next time.
The Millennium Stadium was poised for the biggest game of the day. Another must win for both Ireland and France as victory in Cardiff would mean avoiding the All Blacks in the quarter finals. But the French let the Irish walk all over them, and failed to let loose their elusive French flair.
But if anyone can beat the All Blacks, then the French certainly have the credentials to do so, having knocked out the Southern Hemisphere Giants in Cardiff back in 2007. Ireland, whilst facing the marginally less intimidating Pumas, find themselves without their captain Paul O’Connell, who sadly may have also played his last game for Ireland.
The gingerbread were also very fortunate to have secured tickets to the game and were chaperoned by a ridiculous looking chicken…
After the monumental part the Brave Blossoms have played in RWC2015 so far, Japan was looking to secure its third win in the tournament. The final pool gave finished with a flourish, but sadly for Japan, this will have been the only time a team will have won three games yet failed to reach the knockout stage, and the loss to Scotland proved devastatingly costly.
But there is no question that the bravery of these warriors has had a lasting impact in the game, and one cannot fail to be extremely excited at the prospect of the tournament being hosted by the Japanese next time around!
And here endeth the final game of the pool stage, as twenty becomes eight. Next weekend sees the victorious eight progress to the legendary knock-out stages of the tournament. Update to follow over the next couple of days on Part II of RWC2015!!