England face Australia at Twickenham with their World Cup survival on the line and while predicting the outcome is nigh-on impossible, the rich history of this rugby rivalry at least gives some strong clues about the winner.
The parallels with the Wales game that preceded it at Twickenham are stark, as apart from the advantage a home crowd brings, there really isn’t much in it.
Nevertheless, judging by recent cross-hemisphere clashes and World Cup meetings between the fierce rivals, the bookmakers are spot on in siding with the English, albeit in slender fashion.
Yes Lancaster’s men were rattled by Wales’ second-half rally and ultimately spurned the last-gasp chance to rescue a draw at least, but they’ve defeated Australia in successive Tests, in four of the last five and three times on the spin in World Cups.
Nine points was the difference last autumn, though the margins have been squeakier still on the grandest stage, with two points splitting the sides in 2007, and only three (a drop goal in one famous case) in the two prior World Cups.
Ladbrokes customers planning on taking the bookmaker up on their money-back offer ought to be making notes – with a 1-5 point winning margin priced tantalisingly at 9/2.
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Samoa v Japan: Pool B 14:30
The extra three days’ rest means Japan will have had plenty of time to recuperate and regroup after Scotland took some of the shine of that most famous of all World Cup results against South Africa.
In that time the Samoans have been crushed by the Springboks and this renders the Cherry Blossoms’ 9/4 outsider status to claim victory number two, cherry ripe.
South Africa v Scotland: Pool B 16:45
The Scots would never have envisaged coming into their penultimate Pool B match three points ahead of the two-time world champions, yet Vern Cotter’s Thistle outfit have been impressive.
Where the Springboks failed miserably against Japan, the Scottish ran in five tries, something their expansive rugby produced again in a more routine, bonus-point grabbing victory over the United States.
Scotland know they’re in for a far tougher examination against Heyneke Meyer’s men and will be under no illusion, having been on the wrong side of a 55-6 defeat just over a year ago in the Port Elizabeth.
However, with cracks in this veteran Boks side opened by Japan and all the pressure on the 1/6 favourites, Scotland look a brilliant bet to win with a +15 point handicap at 1/1 in Newcastle where the crowd should be heavily tartan.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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