Rugby World Cup Predictions - Semi-Final Preview
Rugby World Cup: Semi-Final Previews
There are just four teams left standing in the Rugby World Cup and fans can look forward to two cracking semi-final clashes this weekend. England take on defending champions New Zealand in Yokohama on Saturday, and then Wales face South Africa the following day. The southern hemisphere giants are both clear favourites in the Rugby World Cup odds, but England and Wales are both surging with confidence right now.
England v New Zealand: Route to the Semi-Finals
England coasted through the pool stage in supremely comfortable fashion. Eddie Jones’ men began their World Cup campaign with a 35-3 victory over an unheralded Tonga side. They did not play to their full potential, but Manu Tuilagi was on fire in that game and they were solid defensively. Jones was able to shuffle his pack for the match against the USA, which resulted in a 45-7 demolition. England then beat Argentina 39-10 after Tomas Lavanini was sent off for a high tackle on Owen Farrell.
They were due to play France in their final game, but it was cancelled due to a typhoon that battered Japan. That left them well rested for their quarter-final showdown with Australia. England were sensational as they surged to their most emphatic victory in a World Cup knockout game, beating Michael Cheika’s highly-rated side 40-16. Jonny May scored two first-half tries on his 40th cap, and Farrell’s kicking was impeccable as England ruthlessly dispatched their rivals.
That should spark a great deal of confidence in the England camp, but the All Blacks’ quarter-final triumph was similarly emphatic. They found themselves up against a strong Ireland side and absolutely blew them away. The 46-14 defeat was a source of embarrassment for Joe Schmidt’s team, but the pressure the All Blacks put them under was immense. Two tries from Aaron Smith and another from Beauden Barrett helped New Zealand to a 22-0 lead at half-time, and they wreaked havoc again after the break.
It followed an impeccable pool stage from the All Blacks. They faced a massive challenge against South Africa in their opener, but they raced into a commanding lead courtesy of two quick tries from George Bridge and Scott Barrett. The Springboks battled back, but New Zealand held on for a 23-13 win. They then beat Canada 63-0 and Namibia 71-9, before their game against Italy was also cancelled due to the typhoon.
England v New Zealand: Key Players
Skipper Farrell is the key man for England. He already has 44 points to his name at the World Cup, which leaves him second only to Yu Tamura of Japan, and his teammates will expect him to lead by example in this match. Yet England’s greatest strength is its big, monstrous pack, featuring the Vunipola brothers, Maro Itoje and the Kamikaze Kids – Tom Curry and Sam Underhill, who led England to victory against Australia by getting the better of David Pocock and Michael Hooper. Curry was man if the match, with 17 tackles, and he proved to be a great threat at the breakdowns.
Beauden Barrett is arguably the best player in the world and stopping him will be crucial to England’s chances of success. He is quick, skilful and utterly devastating with the ball in his hands. Barrett broke a 32-year World Cup record by carrying the ball 21 times during the All Blacks’ 46-14 win against Ireland, and he has flourished since reverting to fly-half. Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown, Bridge, Smith, Richie Mo’unga, Codie Taylor and Ardie Savea were also superb in that game, while Brodie Retallick is an excellent player. New Zealand’s team is packed full of world-class talent and that is why they are the favourites to win the World Cup for the third time in a row.
England v New Zealand: Odds & Spreads
England have been installed as the 12/5 underdogs for this game, while the All Blacks are 1/3 favourites in the Rugby World Cup odds. You can find odds of 10/11 on England +6.5, or 4/5 on New Zealand -6.5. If you want even more value on the All Blacks, they are priced at 6/5 to win with a -9.5 point handicap. New Zealand have been given a 6-9 Match Supremacy Index over England in the rugby spread betting, so you can buy at 9 if you think England will struggle or sell at 6 if you think they will acquit themselves well in this game.
South Africa v Wales: Route to the Semi-Finals
The Springboks bounced back from that bruising defeat against New Zealand with an emphatic 57-3 win against Namibia. In the build-up to the World Cup Italy declared they could finish ahead of South Africa in their pool, but the Springboks made a mockery of such talk by thrashing them 49-3.
They then thrashed Canada 66-7 to tee up a quarter-final showdown with hosts Japan. The Brave Blossoms had the support of the neutrals, and they were in high spirits after beating Ireland and Scotland to top their pool, but South Africa were totally ruthless in beating them 26-3.
Wales also finished top of their pool. They started their campaign with a 43-14 win against Georgia, and then they edged the Wallabies 29-25 in a pulsating battle. An unconvincing 29-17 victory against Fiji followed, and then they beat unfancied Uruguay 35-13.
They were the favourites to beat France in the quarters, but they found themselves in real trouble when trailing 19-10 at the break. Lock Sebastien Vahaamahina was sent off after 48 minutes for an elbow on Welsh flanker Aaron Wainwright, and that turned the match in their favour. A dramatic late try from Ross Moriarty booked them a place in the semi-finals, but they will need to improve if they are to beat the Springboks.
South Africa v Wales: Key Players
Pieter-Steph du Toit has been superb for the Springboks during the World Cup after recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament injury that almost saw him miss the tournament. Powerful centre Damian De Allende has also been extremely efficient and he has marshalled the Springboks’ defence with aplomb. Cobus Reinach has four tries to his name, as does Mbongeni Mbonambi, while Makazole Mapimpi has five.
Rugby World magazine named Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones as the world’s best player this summer, and he has epitomised their rise to prominence. He led the charge as they secured a Six Nations Grand Slam earlier this year, and he has already contributed 62 tackles during the World Cup. Jones will be a key player for them in this match. Josh Adams has five tries to his name at the tournament, while Aaron Wainwright has been in brilliant form. Justin Tipuric has also led by example, with a stellar work rate, big tackles and dynamism on the ball.
South Africa v Wales: Odds & Spreads
South Africa are the 1/3 favourites to win this game, while Wales are the 5/2 underdogs in the Rugby World Cup odds. Wales +8.5 is priced at 4/5 and South Africa -8.5 is 10/11. Alternatively, you can find 5/4 on Wales +5.5, or 27/20 on South Africa -11.5. The Springboks have a 5-8 Match Supremacy Index over Wales in this game in the rugby spread betting.
What are the Latest Rugby World Cup Outright Markets?
New Zealand now lead the way in the Rugby World Cup Outright Index, with a price of 82-86. South Africa are next at 75-79 followed by England at 65-69 and Wales at 62-69.
Over in the fixed-odds a similar order applies with the All-Blacks boasting favouritism at 4/5, followed by South Africa at 3/1, England at 9/2, while 9/1 is available on Warren Gatland’s Wales side.