Last week’s results came as a surprise to the Mole who didn’t expect either of these teams in the semi final. The chance of a shot at the greatest prize will be available to one of these teams next weekend. Did you expect the N-G Dragons to produce two thirds of the world champions’ back row? I didn’t either, but it could well happen.
A lot of certainties have been disproven at this tournament and it’s difficult to know how to get a handle on this game. Normally in Wales v France, you pick France straight away and normally you’d be right, France have won 10 of the last 13 matches. However, Wales look in prime form and improving while France looked rudderless with only room for improvement.
The French players can provide set piece ball and Wales will look to deprive them of the opportunity to use Harinordoquy’s and Bonnaire’s ability out of touch as a launch pad. William Servat will put a huge amount of pressure on Hugh Bennett and seek to tire him out.
France put together some coherent passages of play against England but England’s main form of defence is slowing the opposition ball. Wales’ plan of defence is based on faultless tackling technique and this is likely to be their most potent weapon. Rougerie seemed to be protecting his shoulder last week and Jamie Roberts is sure to have a cut. James Hook will be running the midfield. Rhys Priestland has been a revelation at this tournament and Hook seems a more high risk player than Stephen Jones to select at ten in a semi final.
I pick Wales to win and think they could do it with some room to spare. Gatland put together a gameplan that stumped Ireland and seems far more likely to do that than Lievremont. Their fitness and defence are excellent. Confidence is sky high. Wales v New Zealand would be a classic final.