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Rugby League World Cup Final 2017 Preview

Rugby League World Cup Final 2017 Preview

The Rugby League World Cup comes to a conclusion on Saturday December 2nd as England line up against Australia in the final. The showpiece event takes place at 04:30am GMT in Brisbane and unsurprisingly, the hosts are odds-on favourites for the match.

who will win the 2017 rugby league world cup final
Australia do battle with England in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup Final in Brisbane!

The best price available on the Aussies to wrap up yet more silverware on their own patch is 1/7 which is available with Betvictor at the time of writing. Even the most optimistic England fans will take some persuading to back England at around 7/1 although anything can happen in sport…

The differing nature of their respective Semi-Final successes makes this an interesting prospect which will hopefully not be as one-sided as the betting is currently suggesting. Australia made extremely light work of Fiji winning 54-6 as they cruised their way into their 4th World Cup final. Fiji has previously seen off New Zealand and did take the lead but the turnaround didn’t take long to materialise and the Aussies were soon into their usual destructive rhythm.

England were involved in a far more competitive, edgy, nervy affair as they triumphed 20-18 over Tonga. Those travelling English fans were left biting their nails and praying for the final whistle as Tonga staged an impressive fight back but Wayne Bennett’s side did just enough to stave off any late drama. A late Andrew Fifita try was controversially ruled out after an alleged knock-on was spotted and there was a collective sigh of relief on the English bench and brows were heavily wiped. With a little help from the officials, they did just about enough to book their place in their first final since 1995 but will need to improve significantly to prevent the hosts from lifting the trophy once again.

Jermaine McGillvary, Gareth Widdop and John Bateman all scored early tries for England although hooker Josh Hodgson limped off after 23 minutes and he will miss the final as a result. He’s sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury and Bennett will be required to shuffle his pack prior to this tie which is far from ideal. He’s started four of their five games in this tournament so far and will be missed against the holders. James Roby is likely to be the man to replace him and he is confident he can step up in this pressure match.

Sean O’Loughlin also picked up an injury but could shake it off in time for the final. He will face a late fitness test but the England camp are yet to comment on his status. Even Wayne Bennett admitted his side are rank outsiders for this tie and responded with ‘probably not’ when quizzed about whether his side had enough to overcome the all-conquering Kangaroos. He conceded his side have a lot of work to do ahead of this tie but they have a week to prepare and meticulous planning could the key. Bet365 have priced England up at 11/10 on the +18 handicap and this would have landed in three of their last four meetings with this opposition across all competitions including earlier in the tournament.

Australia were utterly dominant during their previous World Cup final running out 34-2 winners over near-neighbours New Zealand and another whitewash is not out of the question. The 10/11 for -18 on Australia is likely to be far more popular and there has already been plenty of money coming in for the Kangaroos. Bennett was quick to praise his defence following the game and they will be key once again. It is going to need a gargantuan effort from every single player on the pitch if they are to turn the tables on the Aussies.

Bennett, who coaches in the NRL knows all about the opposition but possessing knowledge and the ability to stop them are two very different things. Tongan head coach Kristian Wolff admitted the draining nature of the dramatic 80 minutes will have taken plenty out of England and they could struggle to pick themselves up in time for the final but conceded that they ‘could trouble Australia’ and ‘make it a real contest’.

Valentine Holmes is the man to watch for Australia and has been priced up as 5/1 joint favourite by Betfred to score the opening try following his unforgettable display against Fiji. He managed a haul of six tries in a virtuoso performance which saw his growing reputation receive yet another boost and England can’t afford to give him too much space in Brisbane. He is playing just his fifth World Cup game and has sent the records tumbling with his 12 tries in the tournament so far. He was joined on the scoresheet by veteran Billy Slater and Dane Gagai.

Australia have not only excelled in the final third, they’ve also been defensively solid although the scrappy and avoidable nature of Suliasi Vunivalu’s 60th minute try will have irked head coach Mal Meninga and his staff. It was the only blot of Australia’s otherwise pristine copybook. These sides met at the beginning of the group stage as both teams were still finding their feet in the tournament and unsurprisingly Australia ran out 18-4 winners despite England getting off to a bright start in the match.

The margin of victory and nature of that performance suggests this contest could be a lot closer than the bookmakers are suggesting but England must ensure they keep both their discipline and concentration throughout. If either of those aspects drop throughout the 80 minutes, they are extremely likely to be punished by a confident and in-form Australian team.

It looks set to be yet another mouth-watering battle and although many England fans will be cheering on their side, those who remain at home will be hoping their side can make it worth the early start. Australia are looking to continue their dominance in this competition and they are helped by having the home advantage here. They also possess the in-form Valentine Holmes who will be looking to add to his 12 try haul with yet more wizardry. England are not without a chance but it won’t be easy for Bennett’s men.

Rugby Union Home Nations Autumn Internationals

How will the home nations fare during the Autumn Internationals?

The Autumn Internationals are well-underway with many of the home nations in action at the end of November and beginning of December.

Wales

Wales have two remaining games with back to back fixtures at the Principality Stadium as they take on New Zealand and South Africa. Warren Gatland’s men face the world champions and will aim to end their unwanted winless streak against the All-Blacks. The Welsh haven’t been victorious against these opponents in 29 attempts and are priced up at 10/1 by the majority of bookmakers to end that run at the Principality Stadium. 1953 was the last time they upset the side from the Southern Hemisphere and despite a narrow victory over Georgia here recently, very few fans are confident of success.

New Zealand are priced at 1/7 for success in Wales yet again and they’ve won 15 times here since their dominance in this fixture began. The hosts will not be helped by the absence of some key figures including Liam Williams, Jonathon Davies and Sam Warburton. Five of the six absentees toured New Zealand with the Lions during the summer and coach Gatland has expressed his concern at the physical toll the game has on his players at the top level.

The visitors aren’t at full strength either and have a number of players on the sidelines. Brodie Retalick has been rested for this tie but Israel Dagg, Owen Franks and Dane Coles won’t play any part. New Zealand’s biggest absentee is Kieran Read and his absence should give Wales hope of breaking that unwanted record. They still remain frustratingly tough to break down and battled back to win 22-17 at Murrayfield on the 18th November.

If Wales aren’t successful against NZ, they have the chance to bounce back against South Africa on December 2nd. The visitors were hammered at the Aviva Stadium on the 11th of November but bounced back with a narrow success over France. The performances of Dan Biggar and Owen Williams have given Welsh fans plenty of reason for optimism and they will go into this game believing they give the world champions a run for their money.

Ireland

Ireland will kick off at 5:30pm against Argentina at the AVIVA Stadium and will fancy their chances of beating the South American outfit. Despite beating Italy on their own patch, they were roundly defeated at Twickenham in front of 81,000 and a similarly hostile atmosphere awaits them on Saturday evening. Adam Byrne looks set to make his debut for Ireland and it’s a terrific chance for the Leinster man to stake a claim for a regular starting spot. James Ryan could also start this test but they will be without Robbie Henshaw who has picked up an injury and won’t feature here.

These sides haven’t met since 2015 when the Pumas defeated Ireland 20-43 at the Quarter Final Stage of the World Cup and this is a decent chance for the hosts to exact revenge. The squad is much changed from that bitterly disappointing outcome and this is a fresh side who are determined to impress head coach Joe Schmidt. The Kiwi, who has led his side to two Six Nations triumphs will be hoping a number of his young side can add competition for places by impressing in this fixture. They have been made the 2/13 favourites for this tie with Argentina priced up as 67/10 favourites with a number of betting sites. They named a more experimental team against Fiji for the narrow success but Cain Healey and Rory Best will be at the heart of this side as they line up against the Pumas.

England

Twickenham will host England’s final Autumn International as the hosts welcome Samoa to West London. Eddie Jones has revolutionised the team since his arrival and he is hoping to continue his unbeaten home record on November 25th. The head coach has won 12 out of 12 at Twickenham so far and he will be expected to name a strong side for this fixture.
England are as short as 1/40 to seal another victory here with their opponents priced at an ambitious 40/1 to spoil the party and ruin Jones’ perfect record here.

They were dominant throughout against Australia and Argentina and a similar performance is expected here. Twickenham will be roaring on the home side and hoping they can make eight wins from eight against Samoa. Jones’ will be without Dylan Hartley who will be a big loss for England but a number of players will be given the chance to shine in this fixture. Jamie George impressed against Australia and looks set to continue his run in the side whilst George Ford and Chris Robshaw will co-captain the side here. Henry Slade and Ellis Genge will be given the chance to impress. Eddie Jones is likely to hold onto his imperious record here but bigger tests await in the future.

Scotland

Scotland face a stern test a Murrayfield as they host Australia on November 25th. After beating Samoa, the Scots battled admirably against the world champions New Zealand but eventually came up short. They didn’t let their opponents see much of the ball and it worked for the majority of the contest and a similar approach may work effectively against the Aussies.
Scotland have been priced up as outsiders at 24/13 with the visitors as short as 8/13 for successful north of the border.
Another stern test is expected with the Australians hurting from their defeat at Twickenham just seven days ago. The game is unlikely to be as cagey as the contest with the Kiwis and an entertaining 80 minutes awaits fans who have been lucky enough to secure a ticket for the game.

Scotland beat a weakened Wallabies in Sydney back in June but they have a number of key players back for this tie and it may not be quite so straightforward for the Scots. Alex Dunbar has been ruled out of this tie after failing to recover from a blow to the head against New Zealand and will be replaced by Peter Horne for this tie. Other than that, Gregor Townsend is likely to name an unchanged side from the narrowly defeat to New Zealand with Zander Fagerson being passed fit for this encounter.
Stuart Hogg was superb against NZ last weekend as he bamboozled the world champions and the home fans will be hoping that performance wasn’t a one-off from the full-back. His opposite number Israel Folau caused problems for Townsend’s men when they met in June and will be one man to keep an eye on.