Marshy’s Cup Call: Get ready for quarters upsets


First-off, I’m predicting New Zealand will do a number on France this Sunday.

It might be Cardiff and it might be our bogey team, but it’s just the test the All Blacks need on the road to a final.

Don’t doubt they’re up for it.

But it’s in the other quarter-finals where I think things will get interesting. I’m picking Argentina to beat Ireland and Wales to pip South Africa.

Ireland are really depleted at the moment, with Peter O’Mahony and Paul O’Connell out and doubts over first-five Johnny Sexton.

I don’t expect Sean O’Brien - for me, the best player on the park last weekend – to get off for punching a French player.

The Irish put everything into that French game - that was their quarter-final. And it cost them dearly.

Argentina, by contrast, are cruising.

Not since the All Blacks game have they had any issues in terms of injuries. They’re well-balanced and coming into this quarter-final fresh.

The two teams perhaps in the best position, squad-wise, are NZ and Argentina. Scotland and South Africa aren’t far behind, mind you.

But of the power teams you expected to be in the quarters, Wales, Australia and Ireland are suffering.

Despite that, I reckon Wales have a good chance against South Africa. Pretty much everyone at Twickenham will be cheering for them.

South Africa are from the southern hemisphere and have regularly been second- or third-best team in the world.

Wales have been to Twickenham a couple of times and performed well there - beating England and pushing
Australia. I think they can cause an upset.

I’ve always thought if the pools stay to the script that we’d see an Australia versus NZ final. I see nothing that makes me depart from that view now.

The All Blacks are not daunted by playing outside NZ.

As long as Australia can stay injury-free - keeping the likes of Matt Giteau, David Pocock and Bernard Foley on the field - it’s going to take a monumental effort to oust them.

But there’s a hell of a lot of drama to come. The quarters and semis will produce some magic moments.

I’ve been in two Rugby World Cups. Both times the All Blacks were predicted to make the final and didn’t. Oh, how things can change in knock-out rugby.

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