IRB Rugby World Cup 2015: Week 3 Preview (Pools A & B)

Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!

While last weekend’s results saw normality restored to Pool B, Pool A has had a spanner thrown in the works. The Welsh Dragons’ victory over the tournament hosts on Saturday has left a three-way dog fight for the two quarter-final places in the pool.

While the top of the table clashes will be covered in full previews, which will be made available for your reading pleasure later on in the week, there are some intriguing fixtures coming up next week between the lower placed teams in Pool A and B. The USA vs Japan fixture will surely be an epic clash, while the Pool A encounter between Uruguay and Fiji should prove to be an intriguing contrast of styles. Prices for all fixtures will be updated upon release.

IRB Rugby World Cup 2015 Fixtures

Fiji vs Uruguay
Group A | Tuesday 06 October| Stadium:mk, Milton Keynes | 21:00 

To Win (80mins)
Fiji  1/100
Draw  40/1
Uruguay  25/1                                 
Fiji  (-36.5) 9/10
Uruguay  (+36.5) 9/10    

The Uruguayans face a daunting week, which begins with an encounter against the Fijians in Milton Keynes. With both sides yet to win a game, this match will decide who takes home the dreaded wooden spoon from Pool A. Fiji have been impressive in their first two matches against Australia and England but are yet to register a point on the log. The Uruguayans have also shown glimpses of promise but have simply lacked the fitness to compete for eighty minutes.

Onto the stats that matter, and although there’s not a great deal of head-to-head encounters to go by there still is some interesting statistical data for those number crunchers out there. The Fijians are yet to score more than one try in their two encounters so far and while that could be attributed to the quality of opposition they’ve faced thus far, their more conservative game plan could actually be the culprit in this case. Their big goal kicking winger, Nemani Nadolo, has been their main points contributor. The Crusaders flyer has contributed sixteen of the 24 points the Fijians have amassed at the tournament so far. The Uruguayans conceded eleven tries against the Welsh in their opener and then had the same amount of tries run in against them when they faced Australia last Sunday. On top of this, the South Americans have also failed to score more than nine points in a match at this year’s tournament.   The only head-to-head meeting between the two sides saw the Fijians run out 39-24 victors.
VERDICT: Fiji (-35.5) 9/10
There’s just too much pace and power in the Fijian backline for Uruguay to contain. It may take a while but the Fijians should be able to get past a margin that’s likely to be around twenty points.

England vs Uruguay
Group A | Saturday 10 October | City of Manchester Stadium, Manchester | 21:00

To Win (80mins)
England  1/200
Draw  66/1
Uruguay  50/1                                  

England  (-59.5) 9/10
Uruguay  (+59.5) 9/10 

While the Fijians are likely to make life difficult for the Uruguayans, the hosts may just turn the South American’s working holiday to Britain into a nightmare. After losing to Wales last time out the English are in a dogfight to make it to the quarter-finals, especially with the head-to-head results being used in the event of a tie on the log. While points difference will count for nought if they tie with Wales on the log, bonus points could be crucial in the event of them being level with the Australians come the conclusion of the pool stage.

While England are likely to rotate for this encounter following a big game against Australia, their second stringers could actually be more of a threat for the Uruguayans. They’re likely to be fired up especially knowing that this could be their last chance to show coach Stuart Lancaster what they are capable of. With the Australians and Welsh already putting fifty points on the board against the South Americans, Lancaster’s fringe men will be itching to have a crack at the Los Teros.                      

VERDICT: England (-59.5) 9/10
With the host nation wanting to put a big score on the board in order to give their points differential a boost, I can foresee an attacking game plan seeing the Roses past what’s likely to be a large margin.

United States vs Japan
Group B | Sunday 11 October | Kingsholm, Gloucester | 21:00

To Win (80mins)
USA  4/1                                  
Draw  25/1                                  
Japan  3/20
USA  (+12.5)                               
Japan  (-12.5)                    

There was a touch of deja vu to the Eagles’ second loss of the tournament. As was the case in their tournament opener against Samoa, the Americans put in a fantastic first half display and then fell away in the second half against Scotland last Saturday. Their opponents for this weekend also tasted defeat at the hands of the Scots last time out. After their historic two point victory over the South Africans, many punters, myself included, fancied the Brave Blossoms to put one over the Scots. It was not be however with Vern Cotter’s charges beating Eddie Jones’ boys by a 35-point margin.

This will be the third meeting between the two sides at a Rugby World Cup. The Americans have won the two previous RWC encounters, the first at the inaugural tournament in 1987 where the Eagles defeated the Blossoms 21-18. The second came at the 2003 showpiece, where the Americans won by a 13-point margin in Townsville, Australia. In total, the duo have met 22 times, with the United States emerging victorious on thirteen occasions. On average, the States have scored 28 points per game whilst the Japanese average 22 points per match.

VERDICT: Japan (-12.5) 
Despite holding the historical advantage I can’t see the Americans beating this vastly improved Japanese side.

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