Who: England vs. Australia
What: Rugby World Cup
When: Saturday, October 2, 9pm local time
Where: Twickenham, England
In terms of Rugby World Cup pools games, they don’t get any bigger than this. After surprisingly losing to co-host Wales, England desperately need to account for Australia and get its campaign back on track.
What’s at stake for this game? The loser is out of the tournament and the winner will likely progress through to the finals.
Australia are unbeaten in two games to date, but are yet to play Wales. Should they win this game and lose to Wales, they will still advance through to the finals.
The Wallabies have beaten Fiji and Uruguay comfortably and they are always tough to beat in World Cup competition. The Rugby Championship champions can smell blood and all the pressure is on the English to perform in front of their home fans.
England’s bid for a second World Cup title bid took a major step backwards when they played Wales last Saturday. The Welsh faced a 12-point deficit, but were able to finish strong and put England under a whole lot of pressure.
The bookmakers are finding it tough to split these two sides and this promises to be the game of the tournament so far.
England vs. Australia money line odds
England -142 ($1.90)
Australia +115 ($1.90 at BetOnline.com)
England is the slight favourites here and that is most likely due to the home advantage. The English crowd will be cheering “swing low” for the entire 80 minutes and that could throw Australia off its game.
Bettors are getting better than even money for Australia and considering the form so far this tournament, the odds look like value.
Australia kicked off their tournament with a hard-fought 28-13 win against Fiji, but they had mostly bench players on the field and Fiji have shown some positive signs at the tournament so far.
Then, as predicted, the Aussie flogged Uruguay 65-3, and now they face a much tougher task of dethroning England.
The Wallabies lost to England last time they played each other, but they both have relatively even records over the last few years against one another.
Australia are currently ranked No.3 in the world and are twice World Cup champions. England are ranked No.5 and have won the World Cup once, but on home soil, many fans and punters expected them to make the final.
It hasn’t been smooth sailing and there has been plenty of talk about England’s selections ahead of this clash with Australia.
Rugby League export Sam Burgess will likely start on the bench and England are hoping Ben Youngs can return to fitness.
“That’s the beauty about the squad. You don’t have a squad of 31 to choose from in a Six Nations,” England attacking coach Mike Catt said. “You’ve got your 23 and you try and build your continuity through it, whereas a World Cup is completely different.
“With defenses the way they are, you’ve got to pick people that can play both ways.
“You’ve got to get the balance right, depending on who you play against. Sometimes you’ve got to go through the line, sometimes you’ve got to go around it. We like to think we’ve got the ability to do both, whoever we pick.”
Australia isn’t known primarily for their defense, but David Pocock and Michael Hooper are two of the best at the breakdown and Catt explains how they plan to beat them.
“You’ve got to hold on to the ball. With Pocock and Hooper you’ve got to be very good in the breakdown. So, holding on to it, getting through the phases and then trying to do what we’re good at with set pieces,” Catt said.
“But starve them of the ball. If they get frustrated, hopefully it will play into our hands. If you kick loosely, or make too many errors, they can hurt you.”
England vs. Australia winning margin market
If you’re confident you know which team will win the game, you have the option of selecting the size of victory as well.
Whilst it is difficult to correctly predict the winning margin, the odds available give punters a chance to cover a few bets and still make a profit.
England winning margin market:
England 1-5 – +450
England 6-10 – +450
England 11-15 – +850
England 16-20 – +1200
England 21-25 – +1900
England 26-30 – +3200
England 31-35 – +6200
England 36-40 – +10000
Australia winning margin odds:
Australia 1-5 – +700 at BetOnline.com
Australia 6-10 – +800
Australia 11-15 – +1100
Australia 16-20 – +1800
Australia 21-25 – +2700
Australia 26-30 – +4700
Draw – +1900
We like the option of taking both England 1-5 and Australia 1-5. That would secure a profit and we can’t see either team winning by a big margin.
One sports journalist seems to think Australia will cruise to victory over England, in an article that has related the England side to Frankenstein.
“The bookies have England as favourites but they are calculating with a hole in the head because England have a bolt through the neck,” said Chris Rattue of the New Zealand Herald.
“They are the Frankenstein of world rugby, a scientific experiment with an ugly result. Their creators have just enough rugby understanding to put something together with excruciating detail, but not enough to make it work.
“The more England pick the game apart, the more trouble they have putting it back together. As Sir Graham Henry explained, the trick is being able to get players to operate on instincts under pressure. The England team which played Wales reeked of too many laptops and not enough hard drive.”
That seems to be a harsh judgement of England. Many offshore pundits have given their two cents about the side that lost to Wales, acting like the world has ended, but upsets happen at the World Cup and England could well bounce back in fine style.
Whatever happens, the atmosphere will be electric and a great game is in order.