Everyone’s doing it, so here goes…
These are my predictions, and to follow later this week, I’ll have some others predicting alongside mine to see who knows best. If you want to join in, comment here or on Twitter! There will be a PRIZE for the winner!
England v Fiji: I hate predicting for my team, but I guess I have to. England will be nervous but they should win by 10. Expect Fiji to put up at least 20+ points though.
Wales v Uruguay: The Uruguay games could decide who goes through at the end. Wales need to put down an early marker. A win by 60+ points should be expected.
Australia v Fiji: By now Fiji will know that another slipup could mean an early look through the trapdoor, but I can’t see past Australia. A win for the Wallabies by at least 2 scores.
England v Wales: Please don’t make me choose… England by 3.
Australia v Uruguay: Wales have set their marker and the England v Wales game will give Australia a bit more oomph here. Poor Uruguay to go down by a larger margin than against the Leeks.
Wales v Fiji: Wales will win by a similar score to England.
England v Australia: If all goes to plan, this will be the big one. I’m going with Australia on this one, but England can go all out here knowing a win could qualify them with only Uruguay to come.
Fiji v Uruguay: A chance for Uruguay to show more of what they can do, but in Fiji’s last match, they’ve got to target one of the weakest teams. It won’t be as big, but I reckon 30+ margin
Australia v Wales: Wales might need to win this. How will the crowd treat them at Twickenham? Badly, one can only hope, but it might be a sea of red. Can Gatland get them over their SH worries? No. Aus by 7!
England v Uruguay: England’s record WC win was against Uruguay in 2003. Depending on results elsewhere, this game is either meaningless, or England need a bucket-load to go through on points difference. If it’s meaningless, the 2nd string gets a runout and England win by 60. If there is something to play for, England will probably still win by 60!
South Africa v Japan: Easy win for SA by 50+
Samoa v USA: Samoa by 14, but the US to tough it out for as long as they can!
Scotland v Japan: Not as easy as Scotland might want, but Japan aren’t in a great place right now. Scotland should ease through at the end though as the Japanese tire – 30 point win.
South Africa v Samoa: This is key for Samoa. Do they rest players for Scotland, or go all out for the Boks? For me, they rest, and SA by 25.
Scotland v USA: Scotland by 20, they’ll have that bit too much.
Samoa v Japan: Doesn’t’ get easier for Japan: Samoa by 40. Too powerful.
South Africa v Scotland: Same as Samoa – do Scotland rest? Again, I would, so SA by 30.
South Africa v USA: Easy SA win, similar to Japan.
Samoa v Scotland: Two rested squads, if I’m right, could be a battle. Scotland have picked a squad based more on power, knowing they need to compete in a powerful group. My heart says Samoa (ABS – anyone but Scotland!) and I think my head is going the same way. Samoa by a score.
USA v Japan: By a quirk of the schedule, this is the very last group match and will likely feature two winless teams looking to put down a marker. I love these games between Tier 2 nations and I’m expecting a high-scoring win for the US but only by a score or two!
Tonga v Georgia: Tonga will be targeting the Pumas later on in the group and will warm up nicely with an easy-ish win over a strong Georgia team.
New Zealand v Argentina: Similar to Scotland/Samoa – do the Pumas rest players? I can’t see they do, not here, but they’ll get thumped. 40+ points.
New Zealand v Namibia: I’ll be at this one and I fear for Namibia. They have some battle-hardened players but the NZ second string will put a ton on them, easily.
Argentina v Georgia: Georgia will push Argentina, but the Pumas will sneak over the line.
Tonga v Namibia: It doesn’t get any easier for Namibia – another powerful team and another beating by 50+ points
New Zealand v Georgia: Why are we bothering? NZ’s average group win in 2011 was 60-12. And this group is no better than that one. Another 50-60 point win.
Argentina v Tonga: I previously tipped Tonga at 5/1 to make the QF. To do that, they need to win here. And they will, by 10. Argentina run hot and cold at times and I think they’ll fall short!
Namibia v Georgia: Namibia are the weakest of the 20 nations at the WC but this is a chance for them to make a point. But they won’t. Georgia by 20.
New Zealand v Tonga: If Tonga have already beaten Argentina, this has nothing to play for. If they haven’t, they have to win here, which is basically not going to happen. Not ever! Tonga to start well but tire; NZ by 40.
Argentina v Namibia: What could be a meaningless game and Namibia might be ready just to get home. But then so might Argentina. Closer than you think, but Argentina to win by 30.
Ireland v Canada: This group is a 2 horse race and Ireland will cruise through this game with little worries. 50 point win, at least.
France v Italy: A defeat to Tonga but still made the final in 2011, the French won’t make the same mistake. This game will set the tone for Italy’s WC and it won’t be a good one. France by 20.
France v Romania: Probably a second string French side and a comfortable 60 point win.
Italy v Canada: Italy might only get joy from the Tier 2 nations so they’ll want to enjoy this. Rankings- wise, these teams aren’t far apart but the scoreboard will show a 30+ point win
Ireland v Romania: The last game is all that matters. Ireland will win this by 40+ wearing slippers, smoking a pipe and drinking a Guinness.
France v Canada: Same as above, the French will cruise to a 40 point win and they’ll move the focus onwards.
Ireland v Italy: Probably a little road bump for the Irish but having had two easier games, this might warm them up for the decider. They’ll win comfortably, but they might have an uneasy first hour. Ireland by 15.
Canada v Romania: Canada ranked 18th v Romania ranked 17th. This is probably the closest pool match in terms of rankings and both will want to get a win. I’m going for the slightly more powerful Romanian side by 10 points.
Italy v Romania: A disappointing campaign but the Italians should finish with a 40+ point win.
France v Ireland: So, they’ve eased through, they’ve rested when required and they’re here. The prize for the winner is avoiding NZ in the QF! I imagine the Kiwis want a French win so they can avoid their favourite WC banana skin and I think they’ll get it. I’m going for France by 3 points.
So there you have it, and your final 8 are Australia, England, South Africa, Samoa, New Zealand, Tonga, France and Ireland!