Author: Kevin Moran
1. England show signs of vulnerability
It seemed like everything was in England’s favour going into Saturday’s clash with Wales at Twickenham. They had won their last eight home games and faced an injury-struck Welsh side. For much of the game it looks as though it would be a comfortable victory for the hosts, but a late onslaught from Wales proved too much for Stuart Lancaster’s side.
England did have a chance to tie it up with a late penalty but they decided to go for touch instead. Considering how accurately Owen Farrell had been kicking, this was questionable decision and ultimately cost England a draw.
2. Springboks return to form
When South Africa lost to Japan in their opening fixture, it was one of the greatest shocks in sporting history. The Boks were heavily criticised across the rugby landscape and another loss against Samoa would have almost certainly ended their chances of qualification.
Unfortunately for Samoa, they felt the full force of the South African backlash in a comprehensive 46-6 defeat at Villa Park. JP Pietersen’s superb hat-trick will give Springboks fans plenty of optimism going into their final two group games – don’t write them out of this Rugby World Cup just yet.
3. Scotland have character to qualify
It wasn’t looking good for Scotland at half-time on Saturday afternoon, they trailed 6-13 and the USA looked to be in the ascendancy. However, Vern Cotter’s side responded excellently in the second half – winning comfortably (39-16) in the end.
The Scots have maximum points and sit pretty at the top of Pool B. St. James’ Park is the venue for their final two pool games against South Africa and Samoa. If their current form continues you’d have to back them to qualify.
4. Zebo and Earls Impress for Ireland
Irish fans can’t ask for much more from Joe Schmidt’s side, like Scotland, they sit on top of their pool with a maximum 10 points and look a confident side. Canada and Romania aren’t high-quality opposition, but the performances of Simon Zebo and Keith Earls have really stood out.
With Rob Kearney now likely to miss next weekend’s clash with Italy, both Zebo and Earls should start and potentially play their way into the starting XV against France.