Wallabies solid in IRB rankings
The Wallabies cemented third place in the latest International Rugby Board (IRB) world rankings with their gritty 20-14 win over England at Twickenham.
Robbie Deans men are in the box seat to secure a spot in the keenly-fought top four for the 2015 Rugby World Cup draw in London on December 3.
The Wallabies take on world No.11 Italy in Florence on Saturday (Sunday AEDT) when they expect another tough Test match, particularly in the forwards.
The Italians are coming off a 42-10 loss to the All Blacks in Rome but only trailed the world champions 13-7 at halftime.
“I thought they played extremely well against the All Blacks and they scrummaged really well,” Wallabies loose head prop Benn Robinson told AAP.
“We know they’ll definitely be targeting us in the scrum and we’ll be up for it. We’re looking to build on what we did against England last week.”
The top four in the world will be the seeded teams in the draw in each group for the tournament to be hosted by England.
Every pool will also be allocated one team from the second tier (teams five to eight) and one from the third (teams nine to 12).
Australia (85.94 pts) remain third but slightly increased their buffer over fourth-placed France (84.99) in the rankings released by the IRB on Monday.
France also improved with a 37-22 win over world No.6 Argentina (79.89) on Saturday night and increased their lead over fifth-placed England (81.96).
France’s great form, which included a 33-6 win over Australia, has spelled trouble for England, who are in danger of missing out on the top group.
The host nation’s hopes of a preferable seeding at the 2015 World Cup were almost completely destroyed by the loss to Australia.
Stuart Lancaster’s side must beat No.2 ranked South Africa or top seed New Zealand in the coming weeks to make a late charge.
A loss for the French against ninth-ranked Samoa (78.79) at Stade de France on Saturday in their final outing of the year would also open the door for England.
Samoa scored a 26-19 upset win over Wales in Cardiff last Friday to jump one place in the rankings while their hosts’ slumped to eighth.
The Samoans are just 0.16 points from a place in the second band of seeds.
Proud rugby nation Wales lost their past five Tests and could drop out of the second tier after falling from sixth to eighth.
A drop to the third tier for Wales would see them playing two higher-ranked teams in their pool with only two sides progressing.
Another upset for the Samoans could see them jump up the rankings and condemn Wales or seventh-ranked Ireland (79.04) to a band three spot.
Scotland’s 21-10 defeat by the Springboks dropped them to 10th place.© AAP 2014