World Rugby Under 20 Championship: Semi-Finals and Play-Offs Preview

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We preview this Tuesday’s Under 20 Championship semi-finals and play-offs.

The pressure is on the young guns as we reach the play-off phase of the 2017 World Rugby Under 20 Championship. And while the day’s highlights will undoubtedly be the two semi-final clashes, there will be some great rugby action on show throughout the day.

Ireland v Samoa | Tuesday 13 June | Avchala Stadium | 11:00 (9-12 Place Play-Off)

To Win (80 Mins)
Ireland 1/8 | Draw 30/1| Samoa 52/10
Handicap
Ireland (-15.5) 17/20 | Samoa (+15.5) 17/20

First up we have Ireland versus Samoa and this could prove to be a rather cagey match with both teams desperate to avoid Sunday's relegation play-off. The Irish have been absolutely dreadful during this year’s tournament conceding 123 points whilst only scoring 52 of their own. Samoa have also been rather porous defensively conceding 161 points in their three pool games.

Verdict: Samoa (+15.5) 9/10
I think the Samoans will cause an upset here. The Irish will be extremely nervous this Tuesday and may well play within themselves. My money is on the Samoans taking advantage of Irish nerves and getting a win here. The smart option, however, is to take them on the plus.

Australia v Italy | Tuesday 13 June | Avchala Stadium | 13:30 (5-8 Place Play-Off)

To Win (80 Mins)
Australia 1/16 | Draw 43/1 | Italy 13/2
Handicap
Australia (-20.5) 17/20 | Italy (+20.5) 17/20

Up next we have the extremely unlucky Aussies taking on the impressive Italians. The junior Wallabies come into this one off the back of a heartbreaking last minute loss to the English which will still be haunting ginger-bearded prop Harry Johnson-Holmes, whose spear tackle lead to the English being awarded the match-winning penalty.

Italy fared a lot better in their latest hit out despite suffering a similarly cruel fate to the Australians. There were huge positives to take from their one-point defeat to the Scots, particularly their driving more, which once again caused all sorts of problems for the opposition.

Verdict: Italy (+20.5) 17/20
The Aussies will still be licking their wounds after last week’s defeat to the English. And while I can only see them claiming the win here I doubt it will be by much.

Argentina v Georgia | Tuesday 13 June | Mikheil Meshki Stadium | 13:30 (9-12 Place Play-Off)

To Win (80 Mins)
Argentina 1/10 | Draw 33/1 | Georgia 57/10
Handicap
Argentina (-17.5) 17/20 | Georgia (+17.5) 17/20

Georgia will be gunning to inflict some revenge over an Argentine outfit who hammered them 37-26 in the opening round encounter between the two sides. Both teams come into this one off the back of heavy defeats with the Argentines going down 72-14 to the Baby Boks and Georgia having France put 54 points over them.

Verdict: Georgia (+17.5) 9/10
They managed to stay within the losing handicap in the first encounter between these two sides and my money is on them doing it again despite the handicap being lowered by one point.

Scotland v Wales | Tuesday 13 June | Avchala Stadium | 16:00 (5-8 Place Play-Off)

To Win (80 Mins)
Scotland 28/10 | Draw 21/1 | Wales 3/10
Handicap
Scotland (+8.5) 17/20 | Wales (-8.5) 17/20

It’s home nations Scotland and Wales next up and we could be in for some fireworks here with both sets of players very familiar with one another. These two sides were actually involved in quite the high-scoring Six Nations epic clash earlier this year, which saw the Welsh juniors run out 65-34 victors at the Broadwood Stadium.

Both teams come into this one off the back of victories with the Welsh running the Samoans ragged and the Scots just edging the Italians.

Verdict: Wales (-8.5) 17/20 
The young Dragons really impressed me during their last two outings and I think they’ll get the better of the Scots for the second time in 2017. 

England v South Africa | Tuesday 13 June | Mikheil Meshki Stadium | 16:00 (Semi-Final)

To Win (80 Mins)
England 6/10 | Draw 20/1 | South Africa 27/20
Handicap
England (-3.5) 17/20 | South Africa (+3.5) 17/20

We’ve finally reached the semi-finals and the first offering should be an absolute classic with defending champions England taking on a much-improved Baby Boks outfit. The English haven't been all that impressive over the past two rounds and look rather fatigued if truth be told. The South Africans, on the other hand, have looked full of vim and vigour since that opening round draw with the French.

Verdict: South Africa 27/20
These two sides met in the semi-finals last year with the English cantering to victory. I think the Baby Boks will turn the tables on their northern hemisphere rivals here and book their place in the final.

New Zealand v France | Tuesday 13 June | Mikheil Meshkhi Stadium | 18:30 (Semi-Final)

To Win (80 Mins)
New Zealand 1/10 | Draw 33/1 | France 57/10
Handicap
New Zealand (-16.5) 17/20 | France (+16.5) 17/20

Our second semi-final pits pacesetters New Zealand up against a French side who have exceeded expectations. Both teams come into this one off the back of impressive victories with the All Blacks hammering Ireland 66-3 and France holding Georgia scoreless while putting 53 points on the board.

Verdict: New Zealand (- 16.5) 17/20
I haven’t gone into too much detail here as I fully expect the Baby Blacks to run the French rampant. Get on the minus at 17/20.

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Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets.net!

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