IRB Rugby World Cup 2015: Week 3 preview (Pools C & D)

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

After two weeks of pulsating rugby action, the group stage enters its final round next week. With quarter-final spots up for grabs, rugby’s big guns will be looking to wrap up their qualification campaigns in style. While the tier one nations are all trying to get into the quarter-finals' VIP room, the tier two sides are trying to secure their tickets to the next World Cup party.
With a third place finish in the pool securing automatic qualification for Japan 2019, there’s still a lot to play for.

As always, the more glamorous encounters will be covered in full previews, while the smaller matches will be covered in this compilation. Prices for all fixtures will be made available upon release.

Argentina v Tonga
Group C | Sunday 4 October | Leicester City Stadium, Leicester | 15:30

To Win (80mins)
Argentina  1/20
Draw  40/1
Tonga  10/1

Argentina  (-20.5) 9/10
Tonga  (+20.5) 9/10

The Argentines sit one point behind the second placed Tongans on the pool C log. However the Tongans are yet to face the New Zealanders, and are unlikely to get any points from their game against Steve Hansen’s side. With that in mind, the Pumas will know a bonus point victory on Sunday will effectively secure their qualification for the next round.

Fullback, Vunga Lilo had a shocker with the boot last time out, missing a number of straight forward kicks at goal. If the Tongans are to challenge the Pumas, Lilo's goal kicking will have to improve.

The men from the 'Sea Eagles' have conceded 38 points in the two games they’ve played at the tournament thus far while the Argentines have scored 70 points. The South Sea Islanders are likely to see their points against differential drastically increased when the final whistle goes at the Leicester City Stadium.

VERDICT: Argentina (-20.5)
My money is on the Argentinians putting another big score on the board against the tier two nation.

Canada v Romania
Group D | Tuesday 6 October | King Power Stadium, Leicester |17:45

To Win (80mins)
Canada 6/10
Draw 22/1
Romania 14/10
Canada (-3.5) 9/10
Romania (+3.5) 9/10   

Although both teams were put to the sword by the Irish, they have put in some impressive displays in their other fixtures. The Romanians put in a dogged first half performance against the French in their second match but couldn’t sustain the challenge for the full 80 minutes and eventually went down by 27 points. While the Romanians have been a bit of a first half side, the Canadians have managed to sustain the intensity for the full 80 minutes.Although fatigue won’t be as big a factor as it was against the Irish, the Romanians will need to maintain their intensity levels for the whole encounter as the Canadians will be looking to run the ball at every opportunity.

The men from the‘Great White North’ will be buoyed by their narrow bonus loss to the Italians, but will want to ensure they leave the tournament with a win under their belts. This game offers them the ideal chance to do just that.

VERDICT: Canada (-3.5)
I’m tipping the Canadians to emerge from the King Power Stadium, with their first victory of the tournament secured.

Namibia v Georgia
Group C | Wednesday 7 October | Sandy Park, Exeter |21:00

To Win (80mins)
Namibia 9/2
Draw 28/1
Georgia 1/7

Namibia (+13.5) 9/10
Georgia (-13.5) 9/10             

The two lowest seeded sides in pool C will go head to head on Thursday evening, in a battle to avoid the group's wooden spoon. The Georgians sit four points clear of the Namibians, who are yet to register a point on the log. The men from South-West Africa have already conceded 93 points after only two fixtures while the Georgians have conceded 64.

This will be the second meeting between the two sides at a World Cup. The previous encounter came in 2007, where the Georgians won by a scoreline of 30 points to 0. In total, the duo have met four times, with the Georgians winning three of the four fixtures. The Georgian’s have scored 97 points in the four games and have averaged 24.25 points per game, while the ‘Welwitschias have only averaged 14.25 points per game.

VERDICT: Georgia (-13.5) 9/10
I can see the Georgian scrum earning a bucket load of three-point opportunities. If goal kicker Merab Kvirikashvili can convert these chances into points, the Georgians should take the spoils.

New Zealand v Tonga
Group C | Friday 9 October | St, James’ Park, Newcastle upon Tyne | 21:00

To Win (80mins)
New Zealand  1/200  
Draw  66/1
Tonga  50/1

New Zealand  (-43.5) 9/10
Tonga  (+43.5) 9/10

The New Zealanders will take on Pacific neighbours Tonga at St James’ Park next Friday evening. The all-conquering Kiwis, are likely to have already qualified for the quarter-finals before they do battle against the Tongans.With this in mind, coach Steven Hansen will more than likely field a side solely made up of fringe players.While the Tongans won’t be taking on the All Blacks first team, they will be coming up against some fired-up second stringers. With Sam Cane and co looking to stake a claim for a first team spot, the Tongans could be in for an arduous 80 minutes.

The Tongans and New Zealanders met at both the 1999 and 2003 World Cups. The 1999 tournament saw New Zealand run out 49 to 6 victors, while the All Blacks upped the ante in 2003, running in 13 tries and putting 91 points on the board.

VERDICT: New Zealand (-43.5) 
While the margins are yet to be established, the All Blacks should be able to surpass anything thrown at them.

Argentina v Namibia
Group C | Sunday 11 October | Leicester City Stadium, Leicester|13:00

To Win (80mins)
Argentina  1/100
Draw  66/1
Namibia  33/1

Argentina  (-41.5) 9/10
Namibia  (+41.5) 9/10

The Argentines will end their group stage fixtures with a match against the Namibians in Leicester. Barring a shock loss to Tonga, the ‘Pumas will have already qualified for the quarter-finals before they take on the Welwitschias.

Like their New Zealand counter-parts, the Argentines will most probably be looking at resting some of their star performers. Agustin Creevy, Juan Imhoff, and Juan Martinez Fernandez Lobbe are likely to be given a well-deserved rest.

The two sides have met previously in two test matches, with the Argentines winning both encounters, by large margins. The Namibians have only managed to grab 17 points from the two games, while the
Argentines amassed 130 points from the two games.

VERDICT: Argentina (-41.5) 9/10
I can see the Namibians adding another loss to their ever-growing World Cup losing streak come Sunday the 11th of October.

Italy v Romania
Group D | Saturday 11 October | Sandy Park, Exeter |15:30

To Win (80mins)
Italy  1/8 
Draw  25/1
Romania  5/1
Italy  (-14.5) 9/10
Romania  (+14.5) 9/10

Sandy Park will host an all-European affair next Saturday, with the out of sorts Italians taking on the Romanians. The Romanians will have taken heart from the Canadians narrow, five-point loss to the Azzurri at Elland road.

This game will likely be decided by whichever forward pack is the most dominant. While the Italians are renowned for their powerful scrum, the Romanians are no pushovers. They have a heavy pack who are capable of holding their own as they demonstrated against the Irish. The Italians will need veteran prop, Martin Castrogiovani, to be at his best if they are to gain the upper-hand.

The duo have met 41 times, with the Romanians winning 18 of these encounters, however, most of these victories came before rugby turned professional. One of these 41 games came at the 2007 World Cup and saw the Italians win by a six-point margin.

VERDICT: Romania(+14.5) 9/10
My money is on the Romanians staying within a margin that’s likely to be around 10 to 15 points.

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