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Rugby World Cup Tips: Best bets for England v N Zealand & Wales v S Africa

Ben Darvill 21 Oct 2019
South Africa's Faf de Klerk (credit:Adam Davy/PA Wire/PA Images)

Games between England and New Zealand and Wales and South Africa will decide who will be contesting the Rugby World Cup final, and who will be forced to play in the bronze medal final in Japan. 

So here we are, after weeks of hard-hitting rugby, only four teams remain in the competition to be named the dominant team in rugby union. While tournament hosts Japan gave a good go of really upsetting the apple-cart and clinching a semi-final berth, it has been left to the top four teams in world rugby to battle for the trophy, with New Zealand, England, Wales and South Africa pitting their wits, strength, and skill against one-another. 

England vs New Zealand - Saturday, 09:00 BST 

So, for the first semi-final of the 2019 Rugby World Cup first-placed New Zealand take on second-placed England in a clash of the two teams playing the best rugby at the moment. New Zealand arrive to the party after demolishing Ireland 46-14 in a performance that was about as impressive as any side has put in over the last four years. England meanwhile humiliated old enemy Australia 40-16 to book their place in Yokohama. Clearly, the dominant performances of the two sides in their respective quarter-finals on Saturday show that this will be a battle of epic proportions.

New Zealand come into this one as the team to back to make the final and go on to clinch their third World Cup crown in a row. However, the tag of underdogs will not be something England will worry about as they have been steadily building over the past four years with the whole purpose of this to peak at the right time, with 100% from every single player in white needed to beat their opponents. While many will back New Zealand and hear nothing more on the subject, the knockout stages of the competition have proved that the right plans can see a team that is big favourite to win really struggle (such as Japan against Ireland and France vs Wales). If Eddie Jones can get his tactics right and England play to their peak, this could be a hugely entertaining clash that sees some extraordinary rugby played. Of course, New Zealand are favourites and rightly so, you don’t win two World Cups in a row for nothing, but the Red Rose have shown they have everything a team needs to dominate world rugby, but it will have to be a monumental effort if they are to ensure New Zealand do not get the chance to put their name on the cup for the fourth time. 

Along with England winning the game we are also looking at anytime try scorer markets, and we feel Beauden Barrett and Jonny May are the men to back here. May went over for the opener against Australia while Barrett has looked very strong when attacking as New Zealand constantly create chances for their strike players. Of course, all of the All Blacks are fully capable of making the run to go over and score, but with broken field likely late on if England are trailing, the pace and intelligence of Barrett could see the full-back going over the line. 

*Odds correct at 11:20 BST on 21/10/2019 

Wales vs South Africa - Sunday, 09:00 GMT 

In the second semi-final we get to see the third-best team in the world in Wales take on fourth-placed South Africa in a match that has all the ingredients of a classic. Wales battled past France in their quarter-final and, largely thanks to their own resilience and the stupidity of French lock Sebastien Vahaamahina who elbowed Aaron Wainwright early in the second-half to help Wales reach the last-four of the competition. South Africa meanwhile became the pantomime villains on Sunday as they put paid to Japan’s incredible world cup run with an assured display that saw them run out 26-3 winners over their incredibly plucky opponents who bow out of this tournament with the admiration of the rugby world behind them. 

On Sunday, it will likely be the electric backs of South Africa and their powerful forwards against the compact and hardworking Welsh defence as two differing styles clash. Wales were really put under pressure on Sunday in a game they really should have lost, but they profited from the self-destructive tendencies of the French which, coupled with their never-say-die attitude, saw Warren Gatland’s men triumph. South Africa on the other hand battled hard in the early exchanges against Japan and led at half-time despite seeing very little of the ball. They were then able to grow into the game as their work on the floor coupled with their immense power in the mauls and scrums gave their smaller opponents all kinds of problems. This power game will be something Wales relish as their defence is lauded as one of, if not the best in the world. However, we feel this game will be won and lost on the wing. Both George North and Josh Adams are fantastic finishers for the Welsh, but when it is a matter of millimetres between five points and putting a foot in touch, there are few better at skirting the line than Cheslin Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi. The two flying wingers have been fantastic at the World Cup so far and gave Japan all sorts of problems as South Africa stretched the home side this way and that. Wales will feel the power they have on the wing will be enough to handle the South African speedsters, but with Faf de Klerk likely calling the shots at nine, there is every chance the wingers will get very quick ball. With this in mind, we are backing Mapimpi to go over in the match and add another try to the two he scored against Japan last weekend. However, with South Africa currently odds-on, we feel that taking the risk and backing the Grand Slam champions Wales at 11/4 is the way to go, especially if they can get a handle on South Africa’s wingers and put pressure on them in their own half - meaning Dan Biggar’s in-game kicking will be absolutely crucial. 

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Rugby World Cup Tips: Best bets for England v N Zealand & Wales v S Africa

Games between England and New Zealand and Wales and South Africa will decide who will be contesting the Rugby World Cup final, and who will be forced to play in the bronze medal final in Japan

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