Friday, 11 April 2014

JWRT 2014 state of play after round 2


A quick roundup on the state of play after two round of the Junior World Rugby Trophy 2014 which looks to be very wide open.

Pool A:
The clash between USA and Georgia was a crucial game in deciding the tournament, and in a very tightly contested game the USA came from 12-6 behind to score a converted try in the last 10 minutes to snatch it. That result puts them in the driving seat to reach the final, all they need to do is beat Tonga.

However if the USA slip up against Tonga which goes against form but isn’t implausible, then Georgia will likely take their position provided they beat Hong Kong, who are only there on the basis that they are the hosts and seem to be by far the weakest team in the tournament, by more than 14 points and with a bonus point which going by the form book is likely.

For Tonga though, they are pretty much ruled out of the running to reach the final even if they beat the USA. There would have to be an extremely unlikely result for them to have any chance of going through.

Fixtures & Results:
07/04 – Tonga Tonga 10-34 Georgia Georgia (country)
07/04 – United States USA 37-0 Hong Kong Hong Kong
11/04 – United States USA 13-12 Georgia Georgia (country)
11/04 – Tonga Tonga 39-16 Hong Kong Hong Kong
15/04 – Georgia (country)Georgia vs Hong Kong Hong Kong
15/04 – United States USA vs Tonga Tonga
1. United States USA – 9 pts
2. Georgia (country) Georgia – 5 pts
3. Tonga Tonga – 5 pts
4. Hong Kong Hong Kong – 0 pts

Pool B:
Lacking a whipping boys Hong Kong, it appears everybody can everybody in this pool which is making it very unpredictable.

There were two upsets in the opening round, but despite their loss to Uruguay, Japan still have managed to get themselves in the dominant position to reach the final as they got 2 bonus points in defeat whilst Uruguay could only draw with Canada in the second round. If Japan win with a bonus point against Canada, they are guaranteed to play the final.

Even if Japan just win, then they are still very much the most likely team to play in the final as it would mean that one of Uruguay or Namibia would need a bonus point win to qualify, and that looks like it will be a close match.

If Japan lose though, then that match between the two underdogs would be a playoff for the final. The pre tournament favourites Canada, have had a forgettable tournament so far, they have failed to beat either of the two underdogs and are out of the running for the final, but they can still play a part in deciding who makes it depending on their performance.

07/04 – Japan Japan 28-33 Uruguay Uruguay
07/04 – Canada Canada 25-37 Namibia Namibia
11/04 – Japan Japan 34-28 Namibia Namibia
11/04 – Canada Canada 18-18 Uruguay Uruguay
15/04 – Uruguay Uruguay vs Namibia Namibia
15/04 – Canada Canada vs Japan Japan
1. Japan Japan – 7 pts
2. Namibia Namibia – 6 pts
3. Uruguay Uruguay – 6 pts
4. Canada Canada – 2 pts

So considering the form book from the first two rounds the most probable matches in the playoff rounds on Saturday April 19 are as follows.

7th Place Playoff – Hong Kong Hong Kong vs Canada Canada
5th Place Playoff – Tonga Tonga vs Namibia Namibia
3rd Place Playoff – Georgia (country) Georgia vs Uruguay Uruguay
Final – United States USA vs Japan Japan (Winner gains promotion to the 2015 Junior World Cup)

However the tournament this year seems very close and unpredictable, just one game in the final round is a formality, that is Georgia against Hong Kong, and even then Georgia still have something to play for in getting the bonus point. All the others, especially the one in Pool B both sides could emerge the winners.

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