Rugby World Cup 2011: Preview and Predictions

Chris CarsonContributor ISeptember 17, 2011

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 13: James O'Connor of the Wallabies passes during an Australia IRB Rugby World Cup 2011 training session at The Trusts Stadium on September 13, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

As the second round of pool play continues, Argentina prepares to battle Romania in the day's first match.  South Africa prepares to meet Fiji in the night cap.

But it's the match in the middle, between Australia and Ireland, that will prove to be the highlight of the day.

Here is a look at the day ahead and what to expect.


Argentina vs. Romania

With Scotland now 2-0, this match has turned into an absolute must win for both Argentina and Romania if either squad plans on advancing to the quarter finals.

Romania comes into the match as the underdog but by no means the long shot.  The Oaks posses a tough scrum and along with good forward play are effective in line outs.

They have changed their lineup a bit for this match, namely, benching Marin Dumbrava. Dumbrava missed two penalty kicks in Romania's loss against Scotland.

Likewise, Argentina will be benching their captain Felipe Contepomi due to a rib injury, along with a handful of other players.

Argentina also plays with strong forwards, and after finishing third in the 2007 World Cup, they may have the advantage with confidence.  The last time these two nations met, Argentina won 50-3. That was in 2003.

Prediction: In Argentina's last match against England, they nearly won, ultimately falling short by three points.  On paper, the Pumas are right up there with the rugby elite and they won't drop a game to Romania.  Argentina wins 16-10.


Australia vs. Ireland

The day's second match between Australia and Ireland is the one to watch because of the history between the teams and their respective skill.

In the 1991 World Cup quarter finals, Australia beat Ireland by a single point in what many have called one of the greatest matches of all time.

Australia has to be looking at this match as a must win because finishing first in their pool will put them on the opposite side of the bracket from New Zealand in the quarter finals.

If those two teams do face each other, it won't be until the championship game.

Australia will be without David Pocock, a key member of their roster.  But James O'Connor will be in the starting lineup, with one game under his belt following his suspension.

O'Connor is an explosive player who does a bit of everything for the Wallabies and he will surely have his hands full with the Irish.

Ireland comes into the match ranked seventh in the world.  The Irish are a versatile team that carries the ball extremely well.  Because the Irish are expected to finish second in pool play, they have the advantage of having nothing to lose.

Prediction: Though Ireland is certainly a worthy opponent, Australia will jump on them early, forcing Ireland to play catch up all game. Australia wins 25-19.


South Africa vs. Fiji

In the day's last match, South Africa takes on Fiji.

South Africa will be focused and determined, looking to redeem themselves after a scare against Wales about a week ago.

Ranked 15th in the world, Fiji is looking for a big upset win against South Africa.  They will give the South African defense a a lot to deal with with their quick, expansive and physical play.

There is no telling how the aging Springboks will handle such an assault.

Prediction: South Africa, with their new sense of focus and hard nosed defense, weather the Fijian storm.  On the other end, South Africa's conversion on penalties gives them the win. South Africa, 26-12.


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