Wales had to dig deep to beat a stubborn Fiji side in Cardiff on Thursday, meaning that an Australian victory on Saturday was enough to see both nations through Pool A to the quarter finals of RWC 2015, at the expense of England.
Thursday’s Millennium stadium encounter was a pulsating match, and Welsh fans will be relieved to see no further injuries (although Dan Biggar worryingly limped from the field). Fiji have proved themselves to be a real force in this tournament, and when the game started opening up around the hour mark, Wales had began losing their defensive shape and the Pacific Islanders looked threatening. It’s pleasing to see another gritty display of determination in defence from Wales, embodied by what I felt was a huge performance from captain Sam Warburton.
The question is, with a quarter-final berth in the bag, do Wales choose a strong team to face Australia in the hope of topping the group, or should they rest some of the key players in key positions for what will be a massive encounter between either South Africa, Scotland or possibly Japan? Personally, I’d rest Falatau, or at least have him start amongst the replacements. Our scrum has been on the back foot for much of this tournament, but he has brilliantly negated any opposition momentum from the number 8 position, and could be vital should we face South Africa in particular.
Australia’s back-row combination of Pocock and Hooper was so effective against England on Saturday. I’d love to see Warburton, Tipuric and Ross Moriarty face them in the final pool match.
With the final round of pool matches commencing this week, it promises to be an explosive end to the group games, in what has been an incredible tournament so far!