Rugby World Cup: Happy hookers…

The quarterfinals are upon us at the Rugby World Cup, with first out the blocks the heavyweight clash between England and Australia.

Eddie Jones’s men are favourites for this tie, having beaten the Aussies on their last six occasions. They progressed relatively comfortably from their group, but may be slightly undercooked having not had to play their last game against the French due to Typhoon Hagibis.

The Aussies qualified second in their group, behind Wales, and have only really played in patches. That said, their scrum has looked solid and that is one area England has usually dominated. The last time they beat the English was at the last World Cup, and this should bring back happy memories.

We think this game could be tight, and we’re happy to take the Aussies with a nine point head start.

Next up are New Zealand and Ireland. These two teams have history – the Irish have won two of the last three encounters, and there are very few sides that are able to claim that, ever.

The Irish entered the World Cup as the number one ranked team in the world, but defeat to Japan along with New Zealand’s victory over South Africa has the Kiwis return to the summit. And they will be keen to remain there.

I think the two defeats by the Irish, in 2016 and 2018, will have rankled with the All Blacks. And it’s likely that the Irish have regressed since. We think the Kiwis will have a point to prove, and we’ll take them to cover the 11 point spread.

Finally, Paddy Power is offering a bet (to a maximum of 10 euros/pounds) that if you select a first try scorer and his direct opponent scores first, they will still pay out. This strikes us as something to consider.

While wingers Matsushima of Japan and Adams (Wales) lead the try scoring charts with five, it’s the rise of the scoring hookers that interest us. Argentina’s Montoya has four while England’s Cowan-Dickie and Mbonambi of South Africa have three.

We’re going to look at this avenue for early scores, and will side with Jamie George (England) and Rory Best (Ireland) to score first in their respective games.

Recommendations:

Australia to win with 9 point lead and New Zealand to cover 11 point handicap as a double, 1 pt, at 3/1, Paddy Power

England/Australia: George to score first try, 1 pt, at 12/1, Paddy Power

Ireland/New Zealand: Best to score first try at 20/1, Paddy Power

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