RUGBY guru Russ Petty (@RPetty80) shares his expert opinion on the best bets for Pool D at the Rugby World Cup.
Rugby World Cup | Pool D | 19th September – 11th October 2015 | ITV
Clichés ahoy in Pool D. For France it is the accepted view that Les Bleus always peak at World Cups and that old favourite – “which France will turn up?”
They have reached the semi-final stage in six of the seven tournaments. However, the last four World Cups saw them also involved in a successful Six Nations the year before.
Having finished no higher than fourth in that competition since 2012, there won’t be the same foundation of good form this time. A current ranking of seventh is fair given they’ve only won four of the last 24 games against teams currently above them.
A break from the grinding Top 14 will ensure they are fitter than usual but there shouldn’t be much doubt over how they are going to play. French flair has long been replaced by Philippe Saint-Andre’s pragmatism and he is hardly likely to change that in his final months in charge.
Italy have lost 17 of their 19 matches since 2014, 18 of 21 away games since the last World Cup and they won’t be making their knockout stage debut this year. Skipper Sergio Parisse (a late injury doubt) carries the team and a long-term failure to replace Diego Dominguez are the Azzurri adages that will be heard in the next month.
Ireland opened at 2/1 to win this pool back in 2013 but after successive Six Nations titles are now a best of 4/6 (Bet365). There is expectation that they will reach their first semi-final and both their rise and the decline of France means the Irish will now have to dispel the ‘happier with the role of underdogs’ tag.
There are plenty of reasons to be positive about their chances – a greatly respected coach with a track record of winning trophies, stable and experienced team, a style of play suited to winning knockout games, no short gaps between matches etc.
For all that, they will be aware that a loss against France would likely mean a quarter-final against New Zealand. The warm-up losses against England and Wales aren’t a worry, but the form of Johnny Sexton might be.
The France/Ireland Straight Forecast is 6/4 (Betway). Do you really want to be relying on Freddie Michalak and co? Probably not, but that pool decider in Cardiff is going to be closer than the current prices suggest.
Canada have lost 13 of their 16 matches since November 2013 and were given a real working over in the scrum last time they met Romania. Their game against The Oaks will be their third in 11 days while their opponents have eight days to prepare. Canada are 11/10 (William Hill) to Finish Bottom of the pool.
Rugby World Cup – France/Ireland straight forecast in Pool D (6/4 Betway)
Rugby World Cup – Canada to finish bottom of Pool D (11/10 William Hill)
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