Rugby Union

Rugby World Cup Round Three Preview

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We are now halfway through the group stages and every team has made their mark. Every match in the coming week has something to play for, and plenty of them will go right down to the wire. Here is what to expect.

Wales V Fiji

Every detail of this match could prove pivotal in the toughest of groups. A win by an ever improving Fiji would negate the epic comeback Wales pulled off against England.

Wales will have a lot on their minds with players out of position, playing through injury, and with the knowledge that not only bonus points but points scored could even prove decisive by the end of the group stages.


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Wales will want to play a tight game with their power runners through the middle, targeting the fringes and first receiver, and use their excellent breakdown work to slow down the offloading Fijians.

France V Canada

Canada came close to Italy and in the process showed that they are here to play. France won't be ignorant to their running threats, and their reckless physicality up front. France have a squad that can play a number of different ways if the directive is clear. They have size and guile in equal measure but will want combinations to click in this game to give a clearer idea of their best XV.

New Zealand V Georgia

Georgia will feel hard done by the final score in their game against Argentina, but you can expect more of the same this week.

Despite an easy win against Namibia, New Zealand won't be happy with the way they took their foot off the pedal in the second half. New Zealand will likely get better with every outing and a blend of first and second choice players will be plenty strong enough to post another impressive bonus point win.

Samoa V Japan

This could be one of the hardest fought encounters of the round.

Both teams are similar in the IRB World Rankings and both are coming off slightly disappointing second round matches. Samoa were made to look fairly impotent by a fired up Springbok outfit, while Japan tired late on against an positive Scottish side.

With the emotional rebound after South Africa out of the way, Japan will look to use their high tempo offloading game to notch another famous win.

Samoa have some marquee names that will know how to win what will likely be a very close match. They are probably slight favourites due to this, but if Eddie Jones puts another bet on his Brave Blossoms, he might not find too many takers.

South Africa V Scotland

The other side of this group could be the decider of the Pool. Scotland have been creative and impressive so far this tournament if slightly lacking the clinical edge to make a true statement of intent.

South Africa have had a notoriously mixed bag. Looking ahead they will either spur on or they will flip flop as they have for much of 2015. The loss of Jean de Villiers from an otherwise inexperienced midfield is a huge blow, and one which Scotland's in form backs will look to exploit.

England V Australia

Once again England find themselves in the Box Office clash of the weekend against Australia. Knockout rugby has truly begun for Pool A as a loss here will ensure England's worst ever World Cup finish.

The battle at the breakdown will be vital, and is a strength for the Wallabies. If England can slow down their ball and build some phases of their own they will stand a good chance.

Selection will be fascinating from both camps, and I think with Michael Hooper and David Pocock in their respective form, Australia go into this as slight favourites.

Argentina V Tonga

Argentina play the only side with two games this coming week and will look to push on from two impressive performances. They may have lost their opener to the All Blacks but they showed the world how hard they will be to beat in the knockout stages.

Against Georgia they scored some scintillating tries using first phase strike moves and some electrifying running from their wingers.

More of the same from the Pumas will see them past a Tongan side that will be battle worn after an encounter with Namibia.

Ireland V Italy

The dynamic of a World Cup group is very different from that of a Six Nations and that could make Italy a more challenging prospect than they already were. They will not have the pressure of a looming wooden spoon and as a result will have the freedom to play a bit more, which they have done already this tournament.

Ireland, however, are rightfully favourites for the group and will be moving up the gears ahead of a big match against the French and then for knockout rugby. This is Ireland's best chance to do well in a World Cup and Joe Schmidt will have his men focussed and ready for the contest.

Round Three will be where the final standings start to become clear and we can all start looking ahead to potential Quarter Final Matchups. But as Rounds One and Two have shown, there will be plenty of drama between now and then.

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