Saturday October 26
New Zealand’s big for a third-consecutive Rugby World Cup goes on the line again in Tokyo on Saturday night and England is the nation that stands in the way of their path into the decider.
Typically, the All Blacks have been in cruise control all the way through to these semi-finals and after comfortably topping Pool B, they were never troubled by Ireland in the quarters. Steve Hansen’s team remains a class above every other nation in world rugby and they should be winning this match, with relative ease.
The hype around England is typically greater than their actual ability, but they’ve clearly been good enough to win through to the Rugby World Cup semi-finals. They were troubled by an undrilled Australian side for around 60 minutes of last weekend’s quarterfinal, and a similar performance would see them absolutely dismantled by New Zealand.
Sunday October 27
The second semi-final will see Wales go up against the Springboks in Yokohama on Sunday night.
The Welsh were probably made to look better than they actually are by what turned out to be a dream Pool at the Rugby World Cup, and there were given a serious scare by Les Bleus last weekend; ultimately lucky to scrape through 20-19. They face an enormous step up in class this weekend and will need to improve tenfold on what they have done so far, if they are any chance of knocking off the Springboks.
Other than a hard-fought loss to the All Blacks, the Springboks have been reasonably faultless. That being said, they have also had a reasonably easy run of matches leading into this. They weathered a tough first half from the Brave Blossoms last week but dominated at the breakdown and lineouts and understandably proved too good.
I think that they’ll record another reasonably easy win here and set-up an all Rugby Championship final with New Zealand.