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International Rugby: 4 Key Battles

We look at the key battles for the final weekend of the Rugby World Cup warm-up games as teams put into place the final touches.

Rugby World Cup Key Battles

It’s the final weekend of World Cup warm-ups as the teams put into place the final touches ahead of the kick-off of the 2023 Rugby World Cup on the 8th of March. Bet Central brings you some key battles for the final weekend of the Rugby World Cup warm-up games.

New Zealand v South Africa: Inspirational Leaders Finding Their Rhythm

Friday night clashes don’t come bigger than the Springboks vs. the All Blacks. This will be the 2nd clash between the powerhouse nations New Zealand and South Africa this year. In the first clash, the Boks rallied late but couldn’t get over the line as the All Blacks had raced ahead and ended up winning 35-20.

In the match-up at Mount Smart in July captain Siya Kolisi was already out injured. Soon after All Blacks skipper Sam Cane found himself on the injury list. Both captains will be looking to find their rhythm in yet another duel between 2 stalwarts of their respective nations. 

Who gets the edge over will only be seen on Friday night at Twickenham. Whoever wins the battle is likely to lead his troops to victory.

England v Fiji: Blindside Battle

They can often be seen doing battle in the Gallagher Premiership for their clubs, but Courtney Lawes and Albert Tuisue clash in Test colours this time round. Lawes will be making his 100th Test appearance for England joining an exclusive group as he is set to become only the 5th centurion in the men’s side.

Lawes has been a superb player for England through the years, a grafter whose softer touches have made him an indispensable part of the England side. He will look to bring his A-game in on a special occasion. His opponent on the day will be someone who is very familiar with English rugby – Tuisue.

The former London Irish loose forward is a bruiser in contact and brings a hard edge that will help a rising Fijian side. England are vulnerable and Tuisue and co can inflict even more pain on this team.

Ireland v Samoa: Mouthwatering Duel At 13

It’s arguable whether Robbie Henshaw is at his best at 12 or 13, his preferred position is inside centre. But as seen during the British and Irish tour of South Africa 2 years ago, he is capable of producing world-class performance one out and that is what Ireland will be hoping he can do against Samoa. 

Tasked with stopping Henshaw or perhaps giving the Leinster centre a few headaches on defence is Ulupano Junior Seuteni, the La Rochelle centre is an irresistible force on attack. He was instrumental in La Rochelle winning their 2nd consecutive Champions Cup in May. 

It remains to be seen whether Seuteni can transfer his domestic form to the international stage as Henshaw has often done. Either way, it will be a battle of small margins as both players are brilliant.

France v Australia

Outside of the Six Nations, we rarely have Sunday afternoon Test match action, but that is what the Stade de France faithful will be treated to in the last of the World Cup warm-up games. It’s very simple when it comes to this game, it’s either Eddie Jones’ Wallabies cop a thrashing or he proves the sections of the media who believe he has missed a few tricks wrong. 

Central to the latter happening is Will Skelton stepping up as a player and as a leader. The La Rochelle man needs to prove he is the right man for the job and he will be doing so in familiar surroundings having won and lost in the Top 14 finals at Stade de France.

He’ll be hoping to win this time having lost to Toulouse in the Top 14 in June. He’ll face off against another man mountain in Paul Willemse who is likely playing for his starting spot with both Cameron Woki and Thibaud Flament in good form. Willemse needs a big game and if he does well, it could help France win. 

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