Rugby World Cup 2019 quarterfinals - five key matchups
As the Rugby World Cup (RWC) enters the knockout stage‚ TimesLIVE has come up with five keenly-anticipated match-ups in the quarterfinals:
Manu Tuilagi (England) and Samu Kerevi (Australia)
These two inside centres are on a collision course that may shift the tectonic plates under Honshu.
Born in Samoa and Fiji respectively they have made a considerable mark for their adopted countries.
At 1‚85m and 114kg Tuilagi has a slight weight advantage over his rival who has dimensions of 1‚86m and 108kg.
It may not be their battle that determines who goes through to the semifinals but it will certainly lend some gladiatorial theatre to proceedings.
Cheslin Kolbe (South Africa) and Kenki Fukuoka (Japan)
The fleet-footed operators on the periphery may well take centre stage on Sunday.
Both have electrified this RWC with Fukuoka only one try behind teammate Kotaro Matsushima and Wales’s Josh Adams who have scored five each going into the quarters.
Kolbe’s impact has been all round and if he is not turning defence into attack he is rising high under the Garryowen.
It is not as if they are strangers. They’ve come up against each other in the bronze medal match at the Olympic Sevens in 2016.
Joe Moody (New Zealand) and Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
Moody again showed his craft when the All Blacks of New Zealand defeated the Springboks of South Africa in their RWC opener last month.
Without overtly dominating in the scrums he won a few significant battles that helped turn the tide their way in that contest in Yokohama.
Moody is a no fuss‚ get-on-with-it player who has quietly made the position his own.
Furlong was instrumental in Ireland’s 16-9 win over the All Blacks in Dublin last year.
Much will again rest on the shoulders of the barrel-chested tighthead.
In fact‚ much of Ireland’s success over the last while can be attributed to him being the anchor of their scrum.
Richie Mo’unga (New Zealand) and Jonny Sexton (Ireland)
Mo’unga’s star continues to rise but he is yet to take this RWC by the scruff.
He‚ however‚ hardly put a foot wrong when the All Blacks beat the Boks last month. His assured performances have meant Beauden Barrett has had to play out of position.
Sexton is one of the major drivers in Ireland’s success.
He has been huge for Ireland since he made his debut a decade ago and an off day for Sexton may well mean the end of Ireland’s campaign.
Antoine Dupont (France) and Gareth Davies (Wales)
Dupont is arguably one of the most dynamic scrumhalves around at the minute.
Since he burst onto the scene he has made things happen with his sniping breaks and terrier-like instincts around the fringes.
For a man of modest physical dimensions Dupont makes crucial tackles.
It is easy to see Davies’s value to the Welsh cause. He was involved in 11 of the 14 straight wins Wales chalked up until England beat them earlier this year.
He has warmed to the task of taking over from Rhys Webb since the latter moved to Toulon. Davies too has an abrasive style and has well developed predatory skills.