Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: International Rugby: New Zealand v Tonga Preview

International Rugby: New Zealand v Tonga Preview

Sonny Bill Williams passes during the Rugby Championship match between the NZ All Blacks and Argentina Pumas at Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth, New Zealand
Sonny Bill Williams 

New Zealand will have their final hit-out prior to the start of the Rugby World Cup when they take on Tonga on Saturday the 7th of September.

Steve Hansen's men will be looking for a solid performance in their Rugby World Cup send-off. Nothing short of a big victory over Tonga will suffice with the Kiwis having endured an up and down 2019 thus far.

Photo Copyright Steve Haag - Hollywoodbets 

New Zealand v Tonga
Saturday 7 September
FMG Stadium
04:35


To Win (80 Mins)

New Zealand 1/100
Draw 40/1

Tonga 20/1

Handicap
New Zealand

Tonga

*Handicap to be added on release

New Zealand
While the All Blacks aren't exactly playing world-class opposition here, this game is still a crucial one for coach Steve Hansen who still needs to give a few of his key players some game time. Ryan Crotty is one such player with the centre having been out of action with a thumb injury since the end of the Super Rugby season.

There's a lot of talk in New Zealand at the moment that Highlanders pivot, Josh Ioane, will be called up for the game as Richie Mo'unga is still struggling with a shoulder injury. It would be a smart move as the  Tongans are hard-hitters and an injury to Beauden Barrett would leave Hansen with a fly-half injury crisis a fortnight out from the World Cup.

Tonga
The Tongans have endured a rather tough run-in to the World Cup losing to Samoa and Japan in the Pacific Nations Cup before beating a very poor Canadian side by only ten points in the final round of the tournament. They tasted defeat yet again last weekend as they went down 29-19 to a star-studded Fijian outfit.

This game could get very messy for the Tongans who have employed a territory-based game that has been rather easy to get around. Their tactical kicking just isn't good enough to try and keep a team pinned in their own half and if they opt to continue in this vein against New Zealand then they will leave Waikato having had a cricket score put over them.

Verdict: New Zealand (-)  *Handicap to be added on release
The return of Ryan Crotty will give the New Zealander's far more dynamism in their midfield. I can see the hosts racking up a mammoth score here and clearing the handicap in the process.  

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