There has been one story, and one story only to talk of in regards to the Rugby World Cup, and that has been Japan’s last-gasp shock of South Africa.
The Cherry Blossoms showed true grit and determination, but also a desire to attack, to run out 34-32 victors over the wounded Springboks.
Next in their sights are Scotland. While they are priced up as 5/1 underdogs, the Japanese actually leap-frogged the Bravehearts in the world rankings with that win.
Nevertheless avoiding falling foul to Japan will be imperative to Vern Cotter’s men.
The fact that their opponents have only had four days rest will come as a blessing to the Scots, though the adrenaline from their opening success will no doubt still be pumping through their battered bodies.
Scotland have enjoyed a dominance over Eddie Jones’ side in recent meetings, winning the last four, the most recent (and only head-to-head in the past decade) seeing Murrayfield wowed as the hosts ran riot in a 42-17 victory.
Nevertheless they are now facing an opponent on the up, even before their Pool B opening win.
Four wins on the bounce highlights that the Asian outfit are constantly improving, but whether they can cause another upset looks unlikely.
Scotland have gone close against both France and Ireland this year, while they have bagged a double against Italy and are fancied to avoid a banana skin.
However with their confidence up, their style of play encouraging and the neutrals likely to be behind them, Japan may be some value to get within the 16-point handicap they have been afforded.
Fiji to be battered from all angles
To say that Australia have tryscorers all over the park would be somewhat of an understatement. The Wallabies have gone over the whitewash 18 times in their five Tests this year, at the hands of 14 different men.
In fact the last 12 tries the men in green and gold have scored have come from 12 different players.
With that in mind backing any of their stars to open the scoring against England’s opening day victims Fiji looks a big ask.
After a run of six defeats in nine games last year, Stephen Moore’s men look somewhere to near their best and can be expected to avoid becoming another upset at the Millennium Stadium.
They have beaten the Fijians by at least 43 points in all four meetings since 1998, so taking a punt that they clear a handicap of 38 could offer value at 11/4, especially with the potential for Pool A to be decided by bonus points.
All change for France
Phillipe Saint-Andre is well renowned for being a hard task-master in charge of the French side, but in saying that anything other than a final appearance would be deemed a disappointment.
He has made a whopping 13 changes to his starting XV from France’s opening 32-10 victory against Italy as he looks to rotate his squad.
While it could be seen as a risk, the fact of the matter is that Les Bleus have a dominant hold over Romania if recent meetings are to go by.
They have racked up at least 50 points in eight of their last 10 meetings with the Oaks, and on their opening show in this World Cup can be expected to continue that run.
Wesley Fofana is set to return to centre and could inject some flair to the French team. He is subject to a number of Ladbrokes’ price boosts for the game.
The bookmaker has enhanced the price on both he and Noa Nakaitaci getting a try on the board from 4/5 to 5/4.
But the value must be for Romania to continue their run of heavy defeats to their opponents with a French victory by 50 points or more boosted from 13/8 to 2/1.
Ladbrokes have boosted the price on Israel Folau scoring the first try in Australia’s match against Fiji from 5/1 to 7/1!
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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