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South Africa 35 New Zealand 7

This match at Twickenham between the current World Champions and one of the forthcoming tournament’s favourites ended with a resounding victory for the Boks.

They overpowered the All Blacks with the power of their pack and some highly effective players behind the scrum – notably full back Damian Willemse and 20 year old centre Canan Moodie.

They were helped by New Zealand being reduced to 14 men after lock Scott Barrett was red-carded and with skipper Sam Cane yellow-carded it was at one stage 15 v 13.

Brodie Retallick the fiersome New Zealand lock was out through injury.

I was so looking forward to his battle with Eben Etzebeth as they are the two best in that position in the world.  Scott Barrett was not as effective whilst Sam Whitelock is getting on. The All Blacks also began with scrum half Aaron Smith on the bench.

The Springbok pack is indeed an impressive unit. They have a rugged front row, power in the ‘engine rooom’ of the second row and mobile flankers in Kolisi and de Toit.

Their match-up with Ireland is sure to be one of the contests of World Cup.

You can never underrate the All Blacks but I reckon France on their own soil will have the edge.  It’s such an idiotic shame that the four best rugby nations are all in one section of the draw.

The wheels have come off England’s preparation with Owen Farrell, Antony Watson and Billy Vinupola certainly absent from the key first encounter v Argentina in their Group D and Harry Arundel and Elliot Daly possibly so.

This may work to Steve Borthwick ‘s advantage as he may have the ready made excuse that England did as well as they could expect given the absentees.

If Englsnd can win their group they meet an Australian side in greater disarray and the winner of that match play potentially the runner-up of the France New Zealand group, who England would not beat even with their best available team.

In certain positions like the back row and the centres they are way behind both South Africa and New Zealand.

You often hear that Borthwick favours a ‘grunt ‘ forward game but I really cannot see the English pack matching the power of that of the Boks whilst France, Scotland, Ireland and Fiji are all a better watch.

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About Sandra McDonnell

As an Englishwoman married to a Scot, Sandra experiences some tension at home during Six Nations tournaments. Her enthusiasm for rugby was acquired through early visits to Fylde club matches with her father and her proud boast is that she has missed only two England home games at Twickenham since 1995. Sandra has three grown-up children, none of whom follow rugby. More Posts