RUGBY guru Russ Petty (@RPetty80) shares his expert opinion on the best bets for Pool B at the Rugby World Cup.
Rugby World Cup | Pool B | 19th September – 11th October 2015 | ITV
Go back to August 2014 and South Africa were on a run of 18 wins from 20 matches and looking like genuine World Cup contenders. Optimism for their chances has waned this year though.
Coach Heyneke Meyer has named nine of the 2007 squad for this campaign and while that does mean plenty of experience, he is gambling on the fitness and form of a number of players.
If it all clicks into place then they do possess the pack to trouble all opponents but is a major tournament really the place to take that risk? A recent habit of finishing games poorly and lack of continuity in selection are concerns but they should win the pool – which is reflected in the best price of 1/9 (Ladbrokes).
Of greater interest for Pool B is which of Scotland or Samoa join the Springboks in the quarter-finals. Those sides will meet in the final round of the group stage in Newcastle and while that venue can be seen as an advantage for Scotland, they will have gone through a bruising encounter with South Africa the week before.
Unlike 2011, Samoa do have a better spacing of fixtures this time in contrast to Scotland who have to negotiate three matches in 11 days before that crucial last game.
Vern Cotter’s team are showing signs of improvement but he has only had 16 games in charge. During that period he has trialled 11 different backrow combinations and nine different centre pairings, so will be putting a lot of faith in newcomers to the squad like John Hardie and Josh Strauss.
Jesse Kriel played in all four of South Africa’s games this year, scoring against New Zealand and Australia. His coach has stated he has the potential to be the best outside centre South Africa has ever produced.
The versatility to cover wing and fullback should see plenty of involvement for Kriel and the 8/1 (Coral) for him to be Top South African Tryscorer for the Boks is tempting.
Rugby World Cup – Samoa to qualify from Pool B (15/8 Ladbrokes)
Rugby World Cup – Jesse Kriel to be Top South African Tryscorer (8/1 Coral)
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