With the World Cup only a few days away, I thought I’d take a look at some of the more exotic bets on offer from Hollywood. These bets offer the punter an ideal opportunity to relish every moment of the showpiece event.
We all know how boring a damp squib between the likes of Samoa and Japan can be but with some really good odds on offer for Samoa to make the quarters, it can become a lot more interesting. The gambler who likes a long term investment may well be interested in markets such as the tournament’s top try scorer or an all-Southern Hemisphere final. With great value on offer, make sure you get those outright bets on before the tournament kicks off on Friday evening.
Julian Savea (4/1)
The Hurricanes try scoring machine is the bookie’s favourite to top the try scoring charts. Blessed with speed and power, the All Blacks winger has been given the moniker of ‘The Bus” due to his ability to run over an opponent without breaking stride. The 2010 Junior Player of the Year has an international strike rate that is envied by wingers around the globe, scoring an incredible thirty tries, in only 35 tests. This will be the 25-year-old’s first appearance at a World Cup, and he will want to make it one to remember.
Nehe Milner-Skudder (12/1)
It has been a huge year for the Hurricanes utility back; a fantastic Super Rugby campaign led to a call up to the All Blacks squad. Milner-Skudder’s debut for the Kiwis in the Rugby Championship decider saw him run in two tries and the speedster then set up two the following week. With Waisake Naholo having recovered from a broken leg and Ben Smith also an option for the All Blacks on the wing, it will be interesting to see where Nehe fits into Steve Hansen’s team. The All Black mentor would be foolish to leave one of 2015’s standout performers on the bench.
Joe Tomane (40/1)
Tomane is the longest shot of the three. The Brumbies flyer is unlikely to enter the tournament as a first team starter, however, given a chance he may well force himself into Michael Cheika’s plans. The big man is a huge threat on the counter-attack, with his first half hat-trick against the Stormers in the Super Rugby play-off bearing testament to this. With Tomane desperate to force his way into the starting fifteen, he’s sure to put in some big performances when he gets a go against the lower seeded teams in Pool A.
To Reach the Quarter-Finals
The Samoans haven’t been involved in quarter-final action since the 1995 tournament. Tough pool draws and a penchant for indiscipline has hindered the Pacific Islander’s progress in subsequent tournaments. The fixture draw has been a lot kinder to them this time around. While they will once again do battle against South Africa’s finest they won’t have to overcome the English or Welsh to make it through to the quarter-finals. The likely threat to Stephen Betham’s second-place hopes will come from Scotland. This year’s Six Nations wooden-spoonists have been in torrid form and are ripe for the picking. Both sides will know what’s required of them to make the quarters by the time they conclude the group’s proceedings. While it’s likely to come down to their head-to-head encounter at St James’ Park, the Samoans may be able to take an advantage into the clash. Their appetite to play attacking rugby is likely to see them pick up four try bonus points in their early group encounters. With the Scots struggling to score tries this year, the Samoans could take a two-point log lead into what is likely to be the second-place decider. There’s a plethora of experience for Stephen Betham to call upon, in his side’s quest to make the quarters, with the average age of the squad sitting at almost 29. They also have some exciting youngsters who are ready to step up on the international stage in the form of Patrick Fa’apale and Tim Nanai-Williams.
Pool with Most Tries
Pool C (1/1)
Any pool that contains both New Zealand and Namibia is likely to see a bucket load of tries; the Namibians famously went down to Australia by 142 points at the 2003 World Cup while New Zealand hammered Japan by 145-17 in 1995, scoring 25 tries in the process. The All Blacks have crossed the 100-point mark thrice at World Cups and are likely to add to that record this year. The All Blacks have also scored 177 points against Tonga in the three World Cup matches between the pair. It must also be remembered that the Argentines can produce some quality running rugby when they feel like it, as they demonstrated to good effect in Durban earlier this year. 1/1 for Pool C to contain the most tries is fantastic value for money. With the All Blacks playing two of rugby’s lowest ranked seeds expect to see some high scoring, try filled encounters.
Pool B (7/1)
It is a longshot but if the ‘Boks can get their act together it may well happen. Japan and the USA should provide sufficient cannon fodder for Heyneke Meyer’s charges to run in a decent number of tries. With the Scots struggling for form, they may also be on the end of a hiding. The South Africans aren’t the only side that enjoy crossing the whitewash in Pool B, the Samoans almost have an unhealthy obsession with it. Many a game involving the Pacific Islanders has seen Samoan skippers opt for touch or a quick tap instead of kicking for goal. While this score-a-try-at-all-costs attitude has hurt the Samoans in the past, it has also led to some eye-catching tries. If the South Africans and Samoans play to their abilities we could well see a shock.
All Southern Hemisphere Final - Yes (33/10)
Most South Africans, punters in particular, would have been doing copious amounts of permutation work over the last couple of weeks. While most would have similar looking quarter-final participants on their scrap pieces of paper, work diaries and bar coasters, predicting the makeup of the final leads to intense debates.
My feeling is that we are likely to see to two Southern Hemisphere nations duking it out for the Web Ellis Cup. With New Zealand and South Africa likely to top their pools and the Australians having a sniff of doing the same, they will all have a decent quarter-final draw. If the Australians end up topping Pool A, they will most probably face Samoa in the quarters. The impact of the Australians topping Pool A will also be felt in the Springbok camp; the ‘Boks would then face an English side who will have certainly endured a media backlash. If this permutation does come to fruition I would fancy the ‘Boks to do the business against the Poms who will feel the weight of the world. My only concern for the Southern Hemisphere’s chances is ironically with the defending champions not making it through. The All Blacks may well meet the French in the quarters and we all know the World Cup history between these two. Even if Steve Hansen’s charges bow out in the quarters there’s still a good chance that we will see an all Southern Hemisphere final.
If this calculation does come good, we’d be looking at Australia playing either Ireland or Argentina in the one semi-final, while South Africa would take on either New Zealand or France in the other. I can see the Australians beating the Irish, who have lost form in recent weeks. I’d also fancy the ‘Boks against the French if the All Blacks do bow out in the quarters.