Demented Mole returns for the Rugby World Cup which starts on Friday (18 Sept) and he provides brief previews and recommended bets on all of the opening weekend matches.
So the opening night of the much anticipated 2015 Rugby World Cup is upon us. Having shelled out plenty of £££'s for tickets I for one am very much looking forward to 6 weeks of ups and downs, hits and misses and hopefully rugby of a high quality and not endless conversations about different law interpretations.
There are many blogs out there giving detailed analysis of each team, strengths and weaknesses, group bets, outright bets, most scrum penalties won by a prop etc.....I will not be adopting such an approach and will just focus on the games with short succinct comments which will hopefully provide some profit for readers.
As an aside I put Australia up at the beginning of this year for Betswot at 9/1 and they are still around that price, I would not put anyone off backing them. I have also personally had a small interest on Pocock being their top try scorer at 14/1 (their much improved maul under Noriega being the catalyst).
So to this weekends opening games;
England V Fiji
After the 6 Nations, I resolved that I would be a layer of England to get out of the Group of Death at odds of circa 1/6.
Key injuries to Welsh personnel have seen me back out of this, but it is worth pointing out my view in the context of the tournament. England are generally giving up 24pts to Fiji on the handicap and I will be sitting this one out. It promises to be a huge occasion tonight and I fully expect the Fijians to be competitive and embrace said occasion. They will struggle I suspect at line out and scrum, but I expect them to more than make up for it at the breakdown and in open play.
England should cover the handicap, but there are enough variables amongst the opposition (not least their back line) and the whole occasion to just sit back and enjoy the show. I suspect we will learn a lot.
Tonga V Georgia
I saw Georgia take on Canada 2 weeks ago at Esher RFC and was very impressed by them. As you would expect their scrum was strong, line out a little patchy, but their breakdown work was immense. They should have won. It was only their 2nd game together as a group in pre-season and I understand they have had a game against Japan at Kingsholm since, so will be familiar with its tight environs.
The marquee name is Gorgodze at 8 and I hope that with Nigel Owens holding the whistle we should get a fair crack for both sides.
Tonga are arguably not the force they were, with so many defections to their Antipodean neighbours as well as a renewed interest in their own Rugby League team. I was hoping for more than the 11pts at evens for Georgia but will take it none the less as well as a smaller stake on the outright at 5/1.
Ireland V Canada
As alluded to above, I saw Canada play recently also. They were readily out muscled up front and while they have some pace in their back line, I see the next 4 weeks being a struggle for them in this group.
A lot of people have crabbed Ireland over the past month. Probably the same people who want Joe Schmidt tied to a 10 year deal! I will stick with them until the team tell me otherwise and am delighted that Fitzgerald and Earls start in what is a bloody exciting back line.
The game is in Cardiff; a generally happy ground for Irish players, and I expect them to give Canada a hiding. While the 37pts that was available earlier in the week was appealing, I expect them to win by 50+ so will take the 39.
South Africa V Japan
No bet here for me - South Africa have a bit to prove after a disappointing Rugby Championship and while I think they could cover the h’aco, the game does not appeal as a betting medium.
Eddie Jones and Steve Borthwick is a fascinating coaching ticket for the Japs and I am intrigued as to what influence they will have on this side. We will learn a lot about both sides and am happy to not have to pay for the lesson.
France V Italy
I have grave concerns about France for 2 reasons mainly (there are many more);
Their outgoing coach and his "influence" on the side and the selection of Michalak. Believe me as an Irish man I am delighted at both, but for the French they must be worrying. However they have done enough in the warm up games to suggest they will be more than competitive and as we know the World Cup is one of the few places where we still see typically Francais performances.
I feel Italy have gone backwards since the departure of Kirwan and the loss of Parisse is huge for this game (expected back for Ireland). France are giving up 17 generally at evens and I expect them to cover it comfortably. However Coral are 1/1 with a -16 point handicap and this is where to shop.
Samoa V USA and Wales V Uruguay
I wouldn't mind being in Brighton for Samoa v the Eagles, as there should be some big hits to witness. However for both sides this is a must win game. It is also their first game and I expect lots of errors. It will be entertaining but is not a betting medium for me.
The Welsh have been dealt a cruel fate in the last couple of months through injuries. They will want to get through Uruguay without anymore, and giving up 67pts does not appeal as a bet. My advice for this game is to reintegrate yourself with the missus (hubby if you are a reader of the fairer sex) and family and get some brownie points back as they will be needed over the coming 6 weeks.
New Zealand V Argentina
Not much left to be said about the All Blacks and the Argies have a growing fan base, particularly after their recent victory in South Africa. However the AB's are the most consistent team in the world for a reason and I expect them to turn up and put on a show, lay down a marker so to speak, in their opening game. The -21 at evens generally will do.
So to recap, the opening weekends advice is –
1 point win Georgia +11 v Tonga at 1/1 with Coral, Bet365 and Boylesports
0.5 points win Georgia to beat Tonga at 5/1 with Skybet
1 point win France -16 v Italy at 1/1 with Coral
1 point win New Zealand -21 v Argentina at 1/1 with Ladbrokes, Betway and Bet365
1 point win treble on treble on the Ire/Fra/NZ bets – with Betway (Pays 7/1 although -17 on France)