The intensity goes up yet another notch at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France from Wednesday, as Uruguay and Namibia kick off another five-day run of action in Lyon.
New Zealand’s All Blacks lead the way against Italy at the same venue on Friday night, after Japan and Samoa take centre stage on Thursday.
Another five fixtures follow over the the weekend featuring reigning champions South Africa, as well as a banana skin for under-fire Eddie Jones and his battered Australia against Portugal.
Uruguay vs Namibia – Pool A
We’re into win-or-bust territory for underdog duo Uruguay and Namibia at the 2023 Rugby World Cup at the OL Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The pair meet without so much as a point to show for their combined efforts so far in France.
But it’s the South Americans who have all the momentum going into their contest with the southern Africans, having gained plaudits for their performances against two tier one opponents.
First they pushed the host nation all the way in Lille, before slipping to a cruel 27-12 defeat that scarcely did justice to the shock contest with Les Bleus.
And it was a similar story a week ago, as Italy were on their guard to come through unscathed with a 38-17 win.
Whatever happens here, they will have one more blast at a big dog, with a final round date with New Zealand to come.
Their opponents, by stark contrast, have endured a largely miserable experience at the global showpiece.
Positives are vanishingly hard to come by for former Springboks coach Allister Coetzee and his squad, who set the tone with a 52-8 loss to Italy on the opening weekend.
And things have taken a turn for the even worse since.
First it was the All Blacks who meted out a 71-3 stuffing, before the host nation wiped the floor with them 96-0 in Marseille last time out.
They lost captain Johan Deysel, too, thanks to the skipper’s reckless head smash that broke the cheekbone of home darling Antoine Dupont and left himself exiting the tournament with a red card and a ban.
His absence plus six further changes represent coach Coetzee’s last roll of the dice.
It means Johan Coetzee and Gerswin Mouton will be the only two Namibians to start every game, with the latter the only man to score a try for his country so far.
Four Uruguayan changes see Diego Arbelo replace Ignacio Peculo in the front row and Carlos Deus take Manuel Diana’s spot by coming in at eighth man.
Bautista Basso is given the chance to impress on the wing, while Felipe Arcos Perez is handed a World Cup debut in the midfield by coach Esteban Meneses.
RWC 2023: Predictions Round Four
|Team 1||Win % 1||Win % 2||Team 2||Predicted margin|
Teams and kick off time
Uruguay Starting XV: 15 Baltazar Amaya, 14 Bautista Basso, 13 Felipe Arcos Perez, 12 Andres Vilaseca (captain), 11 Nicolas Freitas, 10 Felipe Etcheverry, 9 Santiago Arata, 8 Carlos Deus, 7 Santiago Civetta, 6 Manuel Ardao, 5 Manuel Leindekar, 4 Felipe Aliaga, 3 Diego Arbelo, 2 German Kessler, 1 Mateo Sanguinetti.
Replacements: 16 Guillermo Pujadas, 17 Facundo Gattas, 18 Reinaldo Piussi, 19 Juan Manuel Rodríguez, 20 Eric Dosantos, 21 Agustin Ormaechea, 22 Felipe Berchesi, 23 Juan Manuel Alonso.
Namibia Starting XV: 15 Cliven Loubser, 14 Gerswin Mouton, 13 Alcino Izaacs, 12 Danco Burger, 11 JC Greyling, 10 Tiaan Swanepoel, 9 Damian Stevens, 8 Richard Hardwick, 7 Tjiuee Uanivi (captain), 6 Prince Gaoseb, 5 Tiaan De Klerk, 4 Adriaan Ludick, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten Van Jaarsveld, 1 Jason Benade.
Replacements: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen, 17 Desiderius Sethie, 18 Haitembu Shikufa, 19 PJ Van Lill, 20 Max Katjijeko, 21 Adriaan Booysen, 22 Jacques Theron, 23 Andre van der Bergh.
Kick Off Time: 17.45.