Can the USA break into the top 4?
Saturday, August 20 2011 @ 09:26 pm ACST
Contributed by: Aaron Richard
Men's Division 1
While there's been plenty of improvement across the board, the IC11 has shown again the gulf between the big 3 of PNG, New Zealand and Ireland and the rest of the field - the Big 3 having won one International Cup each to date, and always finishing top 4.
Number 4 at this point still looks likely to be South Africa, as was the case in 2008, although the Lions will be up against a USA side tomorrow who are eager to prove they can match it with the best of them.
Wednesday's matches will see the top four sides of Division 1 go into semi-finals, with the winners to play for the International Cup the following weekend. Those four will be PNG, New Zealand, Ireland and one of either South Africa or the USA.
The next group will be the teams finishing 5-8 on the table; Denmark, Great Britain and Nauru already being confirmed to be in this group, and the loser of South Africa vs USA to join them.
The only Division 1 matches already set (unofficially) for Wednesday are those which will decide who plays for 9th and who for 11th - these will see Canada clash with Japan and Sweden against Tonga.
Men's Division 2
In Division 2, it looks likely that France will meet Fiji in the Grand Final on Friday, unless on Wednesday either China can pull off a major upset over the Fijians, or the Peace Team do the same over the French. A more even match-up should be India vs Timor-Leste, with both sides coming off a number of heavy losses compounded by major injuries, and eager to break through for their inaugural international win.