RWC 2023

Former All Black backs Fiji to still win Pool C and Wales to miss quarters

September 24, 2023 6:56 am

[Source: Rugby Pass]

Pool C is in for a tight finish after Fiji scored their first win of the World Cup and handed the Wallabies their first loss, keeping both teams within an arm’s reach of the table-topping Wales.

Having prevailed in two testing contests against Fiji and Portugal, Wales must now beat Australia to verify their position in the driver’s seat of the pool.

A loss could put them at risk of missing the knockout stages altogether.

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All teams still have it all to play for as the countdown to the knockout stages ticks on.

The eyes of all nations will be firmly fixed on the Lyon stadium overnight as a Wallaby win could open the door for more drama.

“I feel Aussie could defeat Wales by more than Fiji lost to Wales by, and Wales could potentially still fall out,” former All Black James Parsons told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.

“If you look at Eddie Jones’ press conference, he’s taking it all on himself but, also, they’ve got nothing to lose now and I just feel like they’ve got enough star power in there to score points.

“I think Wales thought they did really well against Fiji but Fiji probably lost that game rather than (Wales) won it.

“Aussie will have to sort out their discipline, obviously 18 penalties is a hell of a lot.

“I just have a feeling that pool will still see Fiji top it and Aussie potentially come second.”

Wales’ win over Portugal was also not convincing enough for Parsons to back them in the high-pressure moments.

“If they had put Portugal away, and sorry to the Gatland family, I’m a big fan of the Gatlands obviously but I just think Aussie have got a performance in them.

“I don’t think they’ll go deep or make the semis but I think they’ve got a performance in them.”

Wallabies coach Eddie Jones has promised much upon his return to Australian shores, but is yet to deliver more than just one win in his seven Tests in charge.

The controversial coach’s decision to select a slew of young talent for the World Cup over tried and tested players like Michael Hooper and Quade Cooper has proven unpopular with many Wallaby greats, and the round two loss to Fiji only intensified criticism.

One Wallaby maintaining belief is George Gregan, the World Cup winner remains close to Jones and Justin Marshall recently revealed that Gregan believes the Wallabies can hit another gear in the tournament before all is said and done.

While Parsons candidly made his initial prediction on gut feeling, he added some analysis to give context to where the game would be won or lost for Australia.

“I don’t think they’re going to find the Welsh attack as disruptive, so if anything their biggest cg=hande probably needs to be on defence. One: making their one-on-one tackles. Two: having the ability to disrupt or slow Wales’ attacking ball down.

“He’s picked a young side but someone like Michael Hooper would be very valuable right about now around the breakdown. I think that’s an area where they’re probably just lacking, they’re allowing that speed of ball and then riding tackles and not winning those collisions.

“Wales will be direct, their forwards will be direct. They will use their kicking game, they do have moments of flair but it’s not their natural instinct, they will manipulate in and around that breakdown so they need to focus on that breakdown defensively.”