I’ve just managed to open my eyes following Irelands defeat last weekend and what do I see? I see two beefy semi-finals heading right this way. Yes Ireland lost. Yes the early mornings have ruined me. It’s been great though hasn’t it? England getting knocked out (had to say it) and some great rugby all round has made it a fantastic tournament. with 4 great games to come starting with Wales V France. The only thing missing is an Andy Powell moment but I suppose there is still time.
Whilst doing a bit of research for this post I came across a headline announcing Yachvilli as a doubt for the French. For me this turned a tight game into a nailed on win for Wales. However, the next headline I read tells me that Preistland is out for Wales and has been replaced by James Hook. For me this tips the balance in the other direction. Living in Wales, I know alot about James Hook, mercurial talent, blah de blah de blah de blah. Undoubtedly, he is a talent, but he is also in his late twenties, weak in defence and positionless. There, I said it. Now that’s out of the way, here are the teams:
Wales: Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues); George North (Scarlets), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Cardiff Blues), Shane Williams (Ospreys); James Hook (Perpignan), Mike Phillips (Bayonne); Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Huw Bennett (Ospreys), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Dragons), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Dragons) Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), Toby Faletau (Dragons).
Replacements: Lloyd Burns (Dragons), Paul James (Ospreys), Bradley Davies (Cardiff Blues), Ryan Jones (Ospreys), Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues), Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Scott Williams (Scarlets).
France: Maxime Medard; Vincent Clerc, Aurelien Rougerie, Maxime Mermoz, Alexis Palisson; Morgan Parra, Dimitri Yachvili; Jean-Baptiste Poux, William Servat, Nicolas Mas, Pascal Pape, Lionel Nallet, Thierry Dusautoir (capt), Julien Bonnaire, Imanol Harinordoquy.
Replacements (from): Dimitri Szarzewski, Fabien Barcella, Julien Pierre, Louis Picamoles, Francois Trinh-Duc, David Marty, Cedric Heymans, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Jean-Marc Doussain.
Oh and the tip? Though I firmly believe that James Hook will go along way to losing this game for Wales, I still feel the rest of the side have enough to match the French. The one thing I’m absolutely certain of is that Vincent Clerc will score. Which is a healthy 5/2 over here.