Teams’ ultimate places depend on last matches
Former Black Fern Regina Sheck looks into Pool D.
Pool D is going to go down to the wire with Samoa and Wales relying on their last matches to see who takes the coveted second spot. South Africa is starting to play their rugby of old by putting on a very strong performance against Fiji. Some great tries were scored and the hustle and bustle of their forward pack showed gaping holes in the Fijian defence. Bryan Habana became South Africa’s highest try scorer and will add more to that tally before the tournament runs its course. Fiji would have been very disappointed with their display, falling off tackles and not playing structured rugby. The Samoa/Fiji match in Auckland was played to a full crowd and the fans were roaring from the start with each country’s respective war dance prior to kickoff.
Samoa showed how much Tusi Pisi was missed from their Wales clash with the backline able to shine and penetrate the Fijian backline. Their game plan to use Tuilagi proved to be a good move as he showed how much territory he gains when running with the ball. He also showed more toe than a roman sandal for a big guy when he chased his kick through 50 metres to nearly score in the lefthand corner. The score line was bigger than I expected it to be. The clash between these two countries is usually pretty close but Samoa showed the mental toughness to get through this game. Hopefully Pisi is right for the do-or-die match against South Africa on Friday.
Wales will be looking for the bonus point win over Namibia on Monday night which should be a walk in the park, to be even with Samoa on the table, although Wales will be in front on points. Samoa needs to win against South Africa with a bonus point to put a bit of pressure on Wales and will have to wait two days to see if they qualify for the next round. Samoa has had some close encounters with South Africa at previous world cups and their scrum will be able to match their opponents, they will need to use their back three more. Paul Williams has been injecting the backline very well and is strong cover in the boot. Their biggest problem will be their discipline, South Africa will no doubt try and niggle them. It will be interesting to see if South Africa fields their strongest lineup prior to the next round. Wales on the other hand will know on Friday whether they are through to the next round, this will be Fiji’s last game of the tournament and they will not take it lightly.