We have a look at the Match Day 2 fixtures in the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup which kicks off on Sunday 13th August at 12:00.
The one sided matches and half filled stadiums have been a disappointment, though the hosts did produce the goods for their own game with a full stadium and a two point match as Ireland battled to a win against Australia.
Hopefully, with this round of matches being played on a Sunday, those that bought their tickets will turn up early and stay longer to give the other competing teams a taste of that famous Irish party atmosphere.
Match 7: New Zealand v Hong Kong
Hong Kong will certainly need to get the crowd behind them if they are to slow what is likely to be a torrent of scores from New Zealand.
After shipping 98 points against Canada in Day 1 Hong Kong could claim a moral victory if they keep this one to under 70 and they might just do that with the New Zealand pack looking strangely lethargic last time out.
However, New Zealand’s danger comes from their backs so expect plenty of long range efforts from the Silver Ferns as they capitalise on turnover ball generated by their solid defence.
Match 8: England v Italy
England seldom needed to get out of second gear in their Day 1 win against Spain and with Italy having a disappointing build up and a disjointed match against the USA you would think that the reigning champions wont have to do much more in this game.
However, with England expected to ring the changes and Italy more familiar with their opponents,I expect this to be a slightly more competitive fixture than England’s first outing.
Unfortunately, due to their disjointed build up, Italy will struggle in the second half and England should pull clear for another comfortable win.
Match 9: USA v Spain
We expected the USA to be slow out of the blocks on Day 1 but their bonus point win against Italy puts them ahead of the curve and they could be one of the major surprises in this tournament.
We caught up with USA’s Kimber Rozier at Railway Union RFC last night. The USA try scorer, gave us her thoughts on the game ahead.
“We had a good win against Italy, a few bumps and bruises but injury free. Everyone is in good spirits, there is a good energy.
Every game is going to get harder. Historically we don’t have as many matches as teams like Italy or Ireland, we don’t have anything like the Six Nations or anything like that. I feel that we are going to improve as the tournament goes along, because we are going to get that game familiarity. We’ve obviously been training together, but in a match you get a different intensity so I think we’ll get a lot sharper as the tournament progresses.”
The main danger for the USA is that Spain are a better side than they showed against England but we still expect the Eagles to pick up another bonus point win.
Match 10: Canada v Wales
Canada were simply magnificent against Hing Kong on day one. It wasn’t so much the colossal 98 points scored but the pace and precision at which they executed their moves.
Wales did have their moments against New Zealand, indeed they edged territory and possession by 52% to 48% for New Zealand, but they are going to have to find a killer touch out wide if they are to trouble Canada.
We had a long conversation with the very knowledgeable Shaun Allen, Canada’s forwards coach, last night at Railway Union RFC and we finished off by asking him how he thinks the game against Wales will go.
“Our players are really excited about the game against Wales. It’s a good opportunity for us to clean up some of the things around the break down, where we had some issues against Hong Kong. They were able to turn over some of our ball.
We expect Wales to be physical and how we deal with that and apply pressure back on them will decide the outcome of that game.
We asked if thoughts were already turning to the final Pool match against New Zealand?
It’s there, we know it’s there but we have the task of dealing with Wales ahead of New Zealand so that’s where our focus lies.
Canada should win this one with a degree of comfort but we do expect an improved performance from Wales. This one has the potential to be the tie of the round.
Match 11: Ireland v Japan.
It’s unfortunate that this game clashes with the Canada v Wales match with the latter likely to be the better game.
Despite playing a considerably less experienced side than they did in Day 1, Ireland should still win this one and pick up a bonus point in the process. The way the Pools have already worked out, the Ireland management have made the sensible call to rest some of their key players with an eye on the match against France, which should be the Pool decider.
Having said that, Japan do pose some threats, despite being overwhelmed by a physical France on Day 1. They are fit and, though relatively inexperienced, they have had a good build up, including those two close games against Ireland last month. They will certainly know which Irish players to target and it could get messy but Ireland, roared on by the home crowd, should have enough to continue their steady progress.
Match 12: France v Australia
While all eyes in Dublin were on the Ireland v Australia match France went quietly about their business, dismantling a significantly rated Japan in the final math of the round.
It could be the most significant result of the opening day fixtures as it indicated that the sleeping giants of Women’s rugby were fully awake and ready for this tournament. It was a result that none of the other coaches would have wanted to see. I’d guess a good few of those coaches will be hanging back to watch this one, such is the threat that an on form France poses.
Inexperienced Australia were unlucky not to get a result against Ireland but they will need to up their game considerably if they are going to challenge the powerful French. However, like the USA, Australia should improve with match experience, but this will be too big a challenge so early in the tournament. France to continue to give more than a few coaches sleepless nights!