Rugby Union

Rugby World Cup: How did the final mocks go for the home nations?

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England and Scotland are probably the more satisfied with their final warm-up games whilst Ireland and Wales will be licking their wounds; Wales literally so with the high-profile injuries of Rhys Webb and Leigh Halfpenny.

England will generally be fairly pleased they are moving in the right direction - Lancaster will be happy that his starting players against Ireland showing they are capable of delivering, with a strong bench to change games thereafter.

He'll be less happy that they were far from ruthless in their execution at times but the Irish are no pushovers - as much they proved at the scrum which will be a genuine worry for the English coaches, in that an English pack was twice robbed of their own possession by the opposition. Unheard of at HQ and something they will want to address before the Fiji match.


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Ireland will probably be the most dissatisfied with their performances in their warm-up matches - especially the final couple of defeats. However, like England in Paris at their previous outing, the second half saw them display some fight in their performance which will calm the nerves somewhat.

Particularly their talisman, Paul O'Connell, whose bruising display saw a well-earned try for the Toulon-bound lock. Their backs perhaps were holding back some of their best moves for the tournament but it will certainly be a worry that Tommy Bowe looked so out of form.

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Scotland provided what was probably the surprise package of the last round and were unlucky not to come away from France with a well-earned win, but were made to pay for a sin-bin to David Denton which led to their tired defence giving way at the last.

However, they are more than capable of causing any team problems on their day. They will have to find this level consistently though to beat Samoa to the second spot in Pool B (with South Africa the likely winners of that pool.)

Wales, despite their warm-up campaign ending well on the scorecard, will perhaps rue the loss of Halfpenny and Webb, seemingly at least for the start of the tournament and possibly for the entire period.

Perhaps their solace will come from the fact that two senior players lay in wait to replace them in the form of Mike Phillips and James Hook - now with some real incentive to prove their coach wrong to drop them in the first place.

However as one Welsh fan put it: "Halfpenny just doesn't miss a tackle, drop a ball, or miss a kick. Hook isn't such a reliable keeper, but a more exciting player. I know which one I would rather have when two points up against Australia with five mins to go!"

Either way, each team seems more than capable of escaping their respective groups - how and where will be the key!

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Ireland Rugby
Wales Rugby
Scotland Rugby
Rugby Union
England Rugby
IRB Rugby World Cup

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