Beset by injuries in the build up to the Rugby World Cup finals, Wales’ gentle opener against Uruguay meant the impact of some notable absentees wasn’t felt, but against fellow hosts and Pool A favourites England, that’s about to change.
The one player whose influence Wales are sure to miss most is arguably the best full-back in world rugby.
The unerring accuracy of Leigh Halfpenny’s boot and ability to kick distances lesser set-piece merchants can’t, sets the Wales number 15 apart in the northern hemisphere and he’ll be sorely missed against England.
This is especially true if Stuart Lancaster’s men are as untidy at the breakdown as they were against Fiji, because while reinstated fly-half Dan Biggar is no mug from a dead ball situation, he’s at least mortal.
England have beaten their neighbours in successive Tests and with a roaring Twickenham crowd behind them, it’s difficult not to fancy the hosts at 1/3.
It’s going to be a fascinating encounter and tough to call, which means taking Ladbrokes up on their Money Back offer is a fine way to approach the betting for the game.
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England wing Anthony Watson is the only fit tryscorer from either side remaining from the home nations’ last clash in February, and having gone over the try line four times in Tests since then, the Bath man looks a fine first selection at 7/1 to score the first try.
With England winning the last two Tests over the Welsh by an average of eight points, the 9/2 about a 6-10 winning margin also hits the spot to utilise this offer.
South Africa to restore a sense of order
Nobody needs reminding of what befell Pool B favourites South Africa in their opening encounter against Japan, but the Springboks will bounce back against Samoa, where the result over performance is paramount.
The sides were pushed together at the last World Cup too, and the Boks won out 13-5 over the Pacific Islanders, in what was a more modest scoreline than other thumpings of the past.
Meanwhile, Samoa were run closer than they would have like to have been by the United States in their curtain raiser, where they prevailed by 25-16.
Having beaten Samoa in all eight Tests against the second tier nation, the 11-20 point winning margin for South Africa, at 9/4, is the recommended punt.
Italy to put first win on the board
A tough assignment against France to begin Pool D was always looking like setting the Azzurri off on the wrong foot and so it proved in a 32-10 defeat.
However, against Canada next, who were battered 50-7 by the Irish, Italy can set about making up some lost ground at Elland Road.
For Italy winger Gio Venditti – on the scoresheet against Les Bleus and against Wales in a World Cup warm-up match – looks like carrying the most threat once again.
The Newcastle Falcons’ new signing is 3/1 to score two or more against the Canadians.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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