Australia and New Zealand were overwhelming favourites to reach the World Cup final and the two powerhouses of international rugby league have not disappointed.
Their respective passages past the semi-final stages were in stark contrast, however, with Australia running in eleven unanswered tries in a 64-0 demolition of Fiji whilst the Kiwis had to use all the time available to them in their clash with England, scoring with the very last play of the game to break the hosts’ hearts.
As a result, the early price of 1/3 about an Australia win inside 80 minutes fairly reflects their chances of them avenging their final defeat to their Australasian rivals five years ago.
That 34-20 scoreline in the Aussie’s own back yard in 2008 still rankles Down Under and only a convincing win at Wembley will provide the redemption that their fans demand.
Such was the confidence of a 10th World Cup victory (there have only been 13 editions) for Australia on their home turf, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph announced that the , ‘…the engraver can start writing Australia 2008 on the giant silver World Cup’ after the home side dismantled New Zealand 52-4 in the opening match of that tournament. The nation, however, are close to righting those wrongs and there are plenty of reasons to think they will do so in style.
Australia are incredibly focused on regaining the prize they believe is theirs and some of their most potent players are coming to the boil at just the right time. Jarryd Hayne, who scored a hat-trick in that facile semi-final win, has edged into the lead for the tournament’s top tryscorers and the 25-year-old looks ready to shoulder a lot of the attacking responsibility once more.
The likes of Bryson Goodwin and Dean Whare will be expected to deal with the threat of Hayne but there were too many moments in their clash with England to give any confidence that they will be able to do that with any success.
England were the better team offensively in the second period and were moments away from punishing their opponents for continued profligacy in front of the white wash in the first half. Similar wastefulness will be a certain death knoll for their chances against an Australia side who had far less problems in dispatching England in this year’s curtain-raiser.
Since that match Australia have only grown in confidence and strength – albeit easy to do with so many teams providing token opposition – and unlike their foes, never having to break their gaze on the final gives them a mental advantage on top of the superior talent at their disposal.
The Kiwis will be looking towards their semi-final hero Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to add to the brace he crossed over for against England but the Kangaroos defence predictably know all there is to about the Sydney Roosters star and they will hold no fears.
Australia are rightfully short to win the match outright and so the price of 5/6 that they win giving up eight points on the handicap is the advice.
Tim Sheens’ side have always had the luxury of better players but this time around they are not hampered by the complacency that understandably infiltrated the camp five years ago. New Zealand will arrive in high spirits but only because they reached the final in dramatic circumstances, not because, like their opponents, they have accumulated the confidence that comes with knowing you are at the top of your game.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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