Demented Mole reviews the quarter finals of Rugby World Cup and looks ahead to semi finals where he is strong on the All Blacks to easily dispose of the Springboks.
Well that was a super weekend of rugby.
From the arm wrestle of Twickenham that remained compelling despite Wayne Barnes doing his best to ruin it, all the way through to Sunday evening and Scotland almost causing the shock to end all shocks in the knock out stages; this series of QF’s had everything. The above 2 games book ended what were the 2 finest team performances in the tournament to date I feel. The All Blacks played rugby from the Gods in dismantling the hapless French and Argentina showed up and played a high tempo aggressive game that Ireland could not match.
It leaves us with an all Southern Hemisphere semi final combination for the last fortnight of RWC 2015 – plenty of print is being spent on the Great Divide; that is for another day.
Followers of the column will hopefully have still turned a profit on the weekend, blind loyalty to Schmidt and his playbook costing us – however the conviction in what NZ might do to the French was at least rewarded (albeit a lot more comprehensively than even this writer expected).
And so we move onto the last 4 and the all Southern Hemisphere match ups.
New Zealand V South Africa
South Africa fell over the line against Wales in a game that panned out as expected. A very physical arm wrestle, marred by a whistle happy Wayne Barnes, but an engrossing game none the less. As abject as the French were it was a superb performance from the AB’s. Indeed it leaves one wondering (briefly!) if they can replicate such a performance. It’s a valid concern – but I think the answer for this week at least is that they probably won’t have to.
What they will have to contend with is poor weather in all likelihood however. The bookmakers have this priced up at 8pts and I feel this is attractive for Kiwi backers. This is not a great SA side; yes they are big, direct and physical, but they are one dimensional as highlighted last week. This is why an under resourced and constrained Welsh side nearly beat them. Having coincidentally bumped into a couple of the AB’s on Sunday at the Marriott in Cardiff, and chatting with Beauden Barrett, there is a steely determination to their strut. I struggle to see them leaving this RWC behind. They know all about their immediate opponents and their potential opponents and I think they will see this one out.
I am advising a 1pt win on NZ -7.5 at 10/11 with William Hill who are the only firm going under the 8 point mark, which is available at 1/1 with Paddy Power and Betway. I want to up this stake, but am just a little nervous over the weather (can lead to chances being butchered), and as such will be back on Friday evening/Saturday morning should there be further advice.
Australia V Argentina
The Aussies can count their blessings to still be in the tournament. The fallout of their QF is another column on its own, but they are here. And maybe it is the fright they needed to refocus, because they will have to be a whole lot better on Sunday to beat this superb Puma side. The Pumas have a collective will that is probably only matched by the Kiwis; this manifests itself in their trust of each other in defence and also conviction to continue to attack with width and pace.
It was a joy to watch them last Sunday, just a pity that it was at the expense of the Irish. If there is a back row in the tournament outside of NZ that can go toe to toe with the Wallabies it is this one. They are simply outstanding and Ireland really learned how important O’ Mahony is to them as they watched Lobbe marauding all over Cardiff.
I have huge respect for both sides. We are on Australia at 9/1 for the tournament, if you want to trade, go ahead, but taking this game on a standalone basis I do not have a strong enough view either way at present. I think it will be a humdinger of a game, my view may change later in the week but at present it is no bet for me.
1 point win New Zealand -7.5 at 10/11 with William Hill (-8 at 1/1 with Betway and Paddy Power)