The World Cup finally gets interesting this weekend and England’s hugely anticipated quarter final clash with France is one of the standout fixtures.
Neither side have hit top form so far in this tournament and their problems off the pitch have caused more headlines than their performances on it.
On the pitch, World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson has been out of sorts and has landed just nine of his 20 attempts at goal, with Toby Flood now been drafted into the centre he will push Wilkinson hard for kicking rights.
With England hooker Steve Thompson expecting a ‘brutal’ battle in the pack, things look like being incredibly close at Eden Park this Saturday…
England head into the game as narrow favourites at 4/7 with France out at 13/8 to win the clash in 80 minutes.
Things have been pretty close between the sides in recent years and in their previous ten encounters both teams have five victories.
However, England have won four of the previous five and, with France suffering a shock defeat against Tonga in their final Pool A game, England look good to knock France out of the third consecutive World Cup having beaten them at the semi final stage of the previous two.
The last four victories for England against France have seen Martin Johnson’s men win by an average of 12 points, which makes backing France with a 13 point head start at 1/4 look very tempting if not very long.
However, the two times during this World Cup where England have been tested, they failed to assert their authority and scraped through against Argentina and Scotland by just four points in each game.
Backing France to win with a four point head start at 1/1 could prove a profitable punt.