Rugby World Cup: Hosts face tricky opener

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Updated: September 18, 2015

Rugby World Championship featured betting preview – Pool A: England v Fiji, Twickenham, London, England; Saturday, September 19, 5am (for nation profiles, click here; for the tournament schedule, click here)

 

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Host nation England will be hoping for the perfect start as the host nation for the 2015 Rugby World Cup when they host Fiji at Twickenham later tonight. The spiritual home of English rugby, which will boast a sell-out crowd of around 80,000 on Friday, has been given a complete makeover. The multi-coloured banners of RWC 2015 have replaced the white and red rose branding while supporters will be greeted by the participating nations’ flags when they arrive at the stadium. Confidence is high in the England camp after their win over Six Nations champions Ireland less than a fortnight ago. They are short on experience, with an average of 25 compared to New Zealand’s 48, while their squad is also the youngest on average in the tournament at 26.2 years. Ben Youngs, the England scrum-half, celebrates his 50th cap in this match-up and many are tipping to take a big step including veteran scrum-half Andy Gomarsall who is confident Ben Youngs will deliver Read full article

 

However, in their arsenal they have a set of young backs all capable of breaking a game up, behind a tough pack that is generally strong in the scrum and line-out. Geoff Parling has timed his run to a starting spot later than most but he has slotted into a set of forwards that is more than capable of both competing and dominating the best teams in this tournament. It’s out wide where England have built some genuine excitement. Youngs (pictured above), Brad Barritt and Mike Brown all offer security so that George Ford, Jonny May, Jonathan Joseph and Anthony Watson can exploit the opposition defence. But if England’s defence is only slightly off its game, Fiji will not hesitate to punish any mistakes. The Pacific Nations Cup champions were outstanding in the USA and Canada earlier this year when they finished the competition unbeaten.

Similarly in their only warm-up match against Canada, they proved how devastating when their sometimes improbable passes find their target. John McKee’s appointment has marked a massive change in approach for the Fijian program when it comes to the set-piece, both in refining the skills of the current pack while ensuring that young players coming up through the system get the best technical training around. Given the chance, they will swarm all over their opponents and leave any concept of a defensive line in tatters. This stems from the impact of arguably three key players – Leone Nakarawa, Niko Matawalu, and the massive Nemani Nadolo. Fiji’s forwards, some of them helped by the experience of playing at European clubs, believe they have made huge strides as well and are capable of standing up to the England pack. For all of the key match stats click here

 

 

Confirmed bet

England v Fiji +24.5 (one unit @ $2.02)

• Selections are listed in three categories – 1) Suggested (likely bet but yet to be finalised); 2) Confirmed (locked in at the price listed); and 3) Leans (tips, but not recommended bets); all times quoted are Australian Eastern Time (AET); prices with thanks to Pinnaclebet (except where markets are not available), correct at time of publication. Results/comments on today’s games/races will follow in the next post.

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