Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: Rugby World Cup: Pool D Preview

Rugby World Cup: Pool D Preview

James O'Connor during the Australian National Rugby training session
James O'Connor

Darry Worthington previews Pool D of the 2019 Rugby World Cup which features Australia, Wales, Georgia, Fiji and Uruguay. 

Pool D of the Rugby World Cup could prove to be far more exciting than it looks on paper with Fiji certain to give Tier 1 nations, Australia and Wales, a run for their money.

Photo Copyright Steve Haag - Hollywoodbets

To Win Pool D
Wales 7/10

Australia 21/20
Fiji 40/1
Georgia 250/1
Uruguay 500/1


Wales
2015 Finish: Quarter-Final Stage Exit

The Dragons have endured a bit of a bumpy build-up to the World Cup suffering defeats at the hands of both England and Ireland. These two aforementioned warm-up defeats must be viewed in isolation, however, as Wales fielded a number of fringe players during them. And when they did field a full-strength XV they beat England in the return leg out in Cardiff.

Of more concern or Wales coach Warren Gatland will be the loss of star back Gareth Anscombe who was ruled out of the tournament following the first leg of the Quilter Cup series against England.

Gatland made some stunning moves during his recent squad announcement leaving out the likes of Samson Lee and Rob Evans and brining in youngsters such as rookie prop Rhys Carre.

While the Dragons will fancy their chances of winning this pool they will need to be wary of avoiding a potential slip up against the Fijians a la 2007 where they lost to the Islanders. They will also need to bring their A-game against the Australians who will be high on confidence having beaten New Zealand recently.

Key Player: Jonathon Davies
The evergreen centre may be in the twilight of his career but he is arguably producing his best rugby yet. The 31-year-old was one of the standouts for the Dragons during the warm-up fixtures, and his ability to organise a defence and always make the right option with ball in hand will be crucial to the Dragons cause.

Australia
2015 Finish: Runners-Up

They were written off a mere few weeks ago and they still aren't everyone's choice to make a real impact but after that Bledisloe 1 win over New Zealand, some people are starting to take notice of Michale Cheika's side.

2019 has been far from ideal for the Australians with the Israel Folau saga disrupting World Cup preparations well before their first international of the year. They have also been without the services of talismanic loosie David Pocock, who has been sidelined with a long-standing calf injury. The Zimbabwe-born Pocock has just gotten over the troublesome injury and is set to be fit for the World Cup.

In terms of results in the lead up to the tournament, the Australians enjoyed a decent Rugby Championship with their only defeat coming at the hands of the South Africans. And despite being hammered in the second Bledisloe game against New Zealand, they will still be rather confident having beaten the All Blacks in Australia this year.

Key Player: James O'Connor
If you had shown me this segment of the piece 12 months ago I would have asked you which idiot wrote it. O'Connor really has helped turn the tide for the Wallabies with the former 'Goldenboy' of Australian rugby making the troublesome outside centre berth his own over the past two months. He really has added some guile to the Australian backline and he will be the key cog in an x-factor drenched set of skinnies.

Fiji
2015 Finnish: Pool Phase Exit


Confucius said many poignant things but one thing he failed to address was the threat of Fiji at a Rugby World Cup. So I feel it's about time someone addresses this with a quote. So, here it is. "Man who goes to Japan expecting to beat giant Fijians is a defeated one". Darry Worthington, September 2nd 2019. 

Both Australia and Wales really do need to heed that warning as Fiji have some really talented rugby players on their books this year. The likes of Semi Radradra, Leone Nakarawa and Joshua Tuisova all capable of turning a game on its head with a moment of magic.

Unfortunately for head coach John McKee, sensational winger Nemani Nadolo officially hung up his international boots this year. Had he been available, then Fiji would have had one of the most potent backlines ever seen at a Rugby World Cup.

Key Player: Semi Radradra
The former NRL star is probably the most exciting XV's player to watch. He has loads of speed; a marvellous step; and is more powerful than most forwards. He'll cause the big boys all sorts of problems at this year's tournament.

Georgia
2015 Finish: Pool Stage Exit


I had some very high hopes for this Georgian side but I feel they are going to leave me bitterly disappointed.

The reason I say this is that their Under 20's program has been producing some extremely talented backs over the past five or so years. And while these players have transitioned to the national team it hasn't brought about the attacking revolution I was expecting with the Georgians still playing very much a the man game and hardly ever getting the ball out wide.

This was evident in their first World Cup warm-up game against the 'Scots where they were only able to conjure up one try in the entire 80-minutes. They also struggled to cut loose against the Southern Kings, who are notoriously poor on defence.

Key Player: Soso Matiashvili 
The brilliantly named fullback is a real dynamo who is blessed with a brilliant ability to launch stunning counterattacks. He's also a deadly finisher, and if you don't believe me, check out the try below, which is one of the greatest in the history of rugby union. 

Soso Matiashvili Try v Canada

Uruguay
2015 Finnish: Pool Phase Exit


I'm going to be honest right off the bat here and I admit I know very little about Uruguayan Rugby.

The Uruguayans struggled at the 2015 edition of the tournament lost all four of their games conceding 172 points in just four fixtures at an average of more than 40 points per game.

In terms of their recent results in the build-up to the World Cup, the Uruguayans 21-41 to Spain before beating a South America XV by just four points. Their only real positive result was over a Brazil XV, whom they beat 43-5.

Key Player: Juan Gaminara
The skipper is an absolute workhorse on the side of the scrum and is also one of the more experienced players in the side having played at the 2015 World Cup. He makes huge hits and is also a strong ball-carrying option. 


Verdict: To Win Pool - Australia @ 21/20
I really do fancy the Australians here. They finally have a settled backline who are capable of giving anyone a run. Wales seems to be on a slight decline and I think Warren Gatland's plan to introduce a few youngsters this late in the piece will backfire. The Dragons will, however, advance to the second round but may only beat the Fijians - who will finish third - by a very small margin.

The wooden spoon will go to Uruguay who will be outmuscled by the Georgians when the two sides meet. 


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