All About The Game

Thierry Dusautoir

With the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals run and won, here is what we have learnt from the games, and what is involved in the winning and losing of knockout matches.

The Welsh are the form team of the competition

I have nothing but respect for the way Wales have approached games and executed their game-plan.

On Saturday, they out-muscled the Irish at the breakdown thanks to their loose-forwards, led by their talismanic captain Sam Warburton.

They used the lateral attack well and ran excellent lines in the backs, to put the pressure on the Welsh defence.

Welsh coach Warren Gatland has made some tough calls, especially picking flyhalf Ryan Priestland over the likes of Stephen Jones and James Hook.

But he is picking form players who have the confidence to execute his game-plan, which many other coaches fail to do – most notably, Martin Johnson persevering with Johnny Wilkinson over Toby Flood.

The Welsh proved, if you have form and confidence, you can win knockout games.

Write off France at your own peril

Every World Cup, an eye is on the enigmatic France and their Jekyll and Hyde nature. You never know when they will pull out one of their sublime performances.

Unfortunately for the English, Saturday was the day.

The passion of the French players singing La Marseillaise indicated they weret here to play, and at half-time, the game was as good as done.

Dmitri Yachvili was superb in guiding the French around the park, and his precision-kicking was great to watch.

The French proved that you write other teams off at your own peril.

Pocock the key for Australia

David Pocock was back to his ball-pilfering best against the Springboks. He was given a lot of latitude by referee Bryce Lawrence, but he did what any world class No.7 would do and pushed that envelope as far as he could.

His efforts in defence proved the difference as Australia was on the wrong side of the ledger in territory and possession stats.

Australia proved that the only stats that matter in knockout games is the final score. They also showed if you take your chances when the opposition fail to convert theirs, then you will likely triumph.

Piri Weepu stood up as a leader

Weepu leads a great haka, but he has proven that he can lead his team around the field.

Accurate play, good decision-making and near-perfect goal kicking. Weepu usually plays only parts of matches, either off the bench or starting and being replaced after 50 or so minutes.

New Zealand showed that if you keep at it and play a full 80 minutes, while continuing to focus on your game-plan, then you will stand a good chance of closing at the match.

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