Faders Fiji to feel England’s force in Rugby World Cup opener
There will be far greater tests of England’s metal to come in the Rugby World Cup, but an opening Twickenham tussle against Fiji should enable a confidence-boosting start for Stuart Lancaster’s troops.
Having defeated Six Nations champions Ireland in their final warm-up game and naming the same starting XV again, England have nothing to fear from the Fijians, despite a smattering of British-based players in their squad.
In Pool A containing fellow big hitters Australia and Wales, making hay while the sun shines is paramount for the hosts when taking on the Tier 2 nations, as bonus points and quite possibly even points difference could well be factors in the final shakedown.
In this respect, the Fijians should be a handy vehicle for an extra match point, awarded to any nation which scores four or more tries in the same match during the Pool phase.
England have faced Fiji five times in Tests and unsurprisingly recorded five victories with an average winning margin of 25.4 points.
There is almost zero appeal in backing Lancaster’s men to win outright at 1/66, but defeating their Pacific Island opponents and clearing the 25-point handicap line at 1/1 is a far more palatable punt.
Although Fiji have twice qualified for the knockout stage in previous World Cups, it was a tale of woe against the leading Test nations in New Zealand four years ago.
South Africa and Wales both made a mockery of this handicap line in 2011, defeating the Fijians 49-3 and 66-0 respectively.
What is more, in their own pre-World Cup warm-up games John McKee’s men have displayed a concerning trend for fading late in games, letting a 26-10 half-time lead over the Maori All-Blacks turn into a 26-27 loss, while a 27-10 advantage over Samoa at the 50-minute mark ended as a 30-30 draw.
Over 22.5 second-half points for the hosts also looks worthy of support therefore, at 4/5 with Ladbrokes.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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