Oval ball fans will love this Saturday. From 2 p.m., Georgia and Portugal face each other at the Toulouse Stadium for their second match in the competition. Beaten respectively by Australia (15-35) and Wales (8-28) in the opening, the two little thumbs of Pool C have the opportunity to offer themselves a prestigious victory in a meeting which tight announcement. Unlike the duel between England and Chile which will follow, at 5 p.m., at the Pierre Mauroy stadium in Lille. Full of confidence after having disposed of Argentina (27-10) then Japan (34-12), the XV de la Rose will look for the offensive bonus against the Condores who have already conceded 85 points in 160 minutes (against Japan then Samoa).
Finally, to end this day in style at 9 p.m., the Stade de France hosts the long-awaited clash of the group stage between South Africa and Ireland, the two best nations in the world (in the World Rugby rankings). At the top of Pool B, the XV du Trèfle (10 pts) faces the world champions Springboks (9 pts) for a shock which will particularly interest the Blues with a view to the quarter-finals. The show should be there in Saint-Denis.
Georgia-Portugal (group C): 2:00 p.m. (M6)
England-Chile (group D): 5:45 p.m. (M6)
South Africa-Ireland (group B): 9:00 p.m. (TF1)
Since the quietly won victory against Namibia (96-0) on Thursday evening in Marseille, the French XV has been resting for three days before getting back to work at the start of next week. But the time is not calm since the case of Antoine Dupont, victim of a maxillo-zygomatic fracture, worries the staff. French three-quarter coach Laurent Labit confirmed this Friday, a decision will be made in the coming hours concerning the future in the scrum half group, who risks withdrawing from the rest of the competition. Meanwhile, and hoping for reassuring news, his teammates will be able to spend time with their loved ones around Aix-en-Provence.
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“Against Georgia, I expect a big fight, a tough battle. Georgians are trained to be able to maintain a high intensity level for 80 minutes, so we need to be able to get up to that level. It’s the team we know best and we can say to ourselves that it’s the one we can compete against the most,” Portugal’s French coach, Patrice Lagisquet, told AFP before returning to the team. Georgian “Lelos”.
“If my first concern was to limit the enthusiasm of my team, I think I would be on the wrong track. What we need to do is continue to maintain this enthusiasm. This is what will allow this team to continue to grow, namely managing a strategy, options and then it is the identity of Portuguese rugby. She is strong and attractive like that and we must not restrain her or change her, that would be a big mistake.” Will the attractive game of the Portuguese bring Georgia to its knees? Answer this afternoon.
In his long-distance duel with Irish maestro Jonathan Sexton, the South African flyhalf plays very big while the historic Handre Pollard was called in to reinforce the same position. Starting against Scotland, the number 10 of the Springboks amazed the match with a sublime decisive pass, while being imprecise against the poles (8 points left on the way). “Whether it's shooting against the posts, playing with the foot or playing with the hand: everything is going to be important. I just worked hard on my basic skills. I practiced a lot hitting between the posts and to succeed (...) I'm just looking forward to taking on the challenge. We can't wait to see him at work on the pitch at the Stade de France, in a high-pressure match.
3 points is the very low total conceded by South Africa since the start of the World Cup, against Scotland (18-3) then Romania (76-0). No team in history had ever conceded so few points in its first two matches in the competition, proof of the ironclad defensive solidity of the reigning world champions. Very inspired offensively (141 points scored against the Romanians and Tonga), Ireland has the weapons to shake the edifice put together by Jacques Nienaber. This is why this duel is really worth the detour, serving as a life-size test for two of the favorites for final victory.
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