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Quarter finals this weekend with big guns colliding

Posted Oct 07, 2011 by Chris White

South Africa take on Australia in the third quarter final

With the minnows having put up a valiant effort and the likes of Scotland and Italy already back in their respective homelands left to watch on the television – or find something else to do – the World Cup has now reached the knockout stages with the quarter finals beginning this weekend, giving us a clearer indication of who will contest the final in Auckland on 23rd October.

With four northern and four southern hemisphere sides in the last eight, it could be a step into the unknown for many sides. However, thanks to the luck of the pre-tournament draw, the northern sides find themselves playing each other, and the southern sides too.

In the first quarter final, Ireland take on Wales in Wellington, with British and Irish Lions friendships cast aside for 80 minutes at least. The last match between the two went the way of the Welsh in a controversial clash, which erupted when Wales scored the winning try with the wrong ball.

Rory Best has been named in an unchanged Irish starting line up, overcoming his shoulder problem, while Dan Lydiate and Shane Williams are back for Wales.

Later that day, England play France in Auckland, looking to book a place in the semi against the winner of the Ireland-Wales encounter. England have named both Jonny Wilkinson and Toby Flood in the starting line up, with Flood replacing Mike Tindall at centre and Wilkinson keeping his place at fly half despite an arm injury. Mark Cueto replaces the suspended Delon Armitage on the left wing while Nick Easter comes in at number eight. In the final change to the England team, lock Tom Palmer comes in to replace Courtney Lawes.

The French have made two changes of their own for the England game as they look to find some form after an erratic Pool phase. Nicolas Mas replaces Luc Ducalcon at tighthead, and Imanol Harinoroquy starts at number eight ahead of Raphael Lakafia.

The clash of the round takes place on Sunday in Wellington, however, as holders South Africa take on Australia in a game the organisers would have hoped wouldn’t have happened until the Final at earliest, but Australia’s defeat to Ireland in the Pool game has thrown it up much earlier.

Captain John Smit returns to the South African line up as one of three changes, with Gurthro Steenkamp and Jean de Villiers also coming into the team. Lock Bakkies Botha has been ruled out of the match with a recurrence of an Achilles injury, and could potentially miss the remainder of the tournament.

Aussie full back Kurtley Beale and winger Digby Ioane have recovered from their injury problems and both start, along with Pat McCabe at centre. Rocky Elsom, Dan Vickerman, Ben Alexander and Sekope Kepu are all recalled after missing the 68-22 win against Russia.

The hosts and favourites have arguably the easiest of the quarter final ties against the dangerous Argentina, but New Zealand are missing their talisman Dan Carter who has been ruled out of the tournament with a groin injury. Sonny Bill Williams returns to the wing and Ma’a Nonu returns, while Colin Slade fills in for Carter at fly half. Piri Weepu replaces Jimmy Cowan at scrum half.

Argentina make four changes to their side to the one that beat Georgia with Rodrigo Roncero, Manuel Carizza, Gonzalo Camacho and Martin Rodriguez all come into the side as the Pumas look to cause an upset.

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