Tonga v Georgia (19th SepKingsholm Stadium, 12:00)
New Zealand v Argentina (20th Sep, Wembley Stadium, 16:45)
New Zealand v Namibia (24th Sep, Olympic Stadium, 20:00)
Argentina v Georgia (25th Sep, Kingsholm Stadium, 16:45)
Tonga v Namibia (29th Sep, Sandy Park, 16:45)
New Zealand v Georgia (2nd Oct, Millennium Stadium, 20:00)
Argentina v Tonga (4th Oct, Leicester City Stadium, 14:30)
Namibia v Georgia (7th Oct, Sandy Park, 20:00)
New Zealand v Tonga (9th Oct, St James’ Park 20:00)
Argentina v Namibia (11th Oct, Leicester City Stadium, 12:00)
The prospect of a game against Ireland more than likely awaits the Argentinians later in the tournament. A match that will, unfortunately, not be causing much apprehension amongst the Pumas. They recently earned their first ever victory against the South Africans in a 37-25 win in Durban and will be coming into this tournament full of confidence, not least Juan Imhoff who scored a hat trick in that game. The paucity of the competition throughout the pool might convince them that they have a chance against the All Blacks, a team that they have never beaten. The fact that they play them first in the group is a shame as it would have been a much greater spectacle if they met them in the final match in a straight shoot out for first place but maybe if they are to have any hope it will be against a team not quite at the races. Even that is impossible to imagine.
The All Blacks enter as favourites and it is very difficult to look past them retaining their crown. The talent throughout the team is astounding. They have the perfect blend of pace and power, their game awareness and management is second to none and their sheer experience will allow them to deal with any situation that they come up against. In Dan Carter they have possibly the best ever kicker of a ball and he will control every match that he plays in to a ridiculous level.
The Sonny Bill Williams question will dominate their coaches’ mind before the tournament starts. His talent is unquestionable, he would be the star player of any other team in this tournament. However Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith form such an effective midfield partnership that breaking them might be a risk for even a team such as this. Then again Williams has the talent to destroy teams by himself so I have no idea what the decision will be. Expect the entire squad to play throughout the pool and Namibia to concede close to 100 points.
Played 15 world cup matches, lost 15 world cup matches, conceded 974 points. Will try their best and might win their first finals game against one of Georgia or Tonga but expect New Zealand to push them close to 1100 points conceded by themselves.
Have conceded 731 points in tournament play. Will be there to make up the numbers and again might pick up a win against the other minnows but their matches against Argentina and New Zealand will be nothing more than an exhibition.
Pushed Ireland close once upon a time and may even do the same to Argentina. Probably won’t though. Basically the same lies in store for them as does for the Namibians and the Tongans.