A much fancied England side open their 2019 Rugby World Cup campaign with a Pool C clash against Tonga at the Sapporo Dome on Sunday and the pre-match betting handicap is a big number.
England v Tonga, Sunday 22nd September, Sapporo, KO 12:15 (South African time)
Weather Forecast – N/A Indoor Venue
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Mathieu Raynal (France), Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)
England bid to regain the trophy they last won in 2003 and there is a fair degree of confidence about their chances. They finished as runners up to Wales in the Six Nations earlier this year, winning 3 of their matches with the 1 defeat coming in Cardiff and they were also pegged back by the Scotland in a thrilling draw at Twickenham.
England also lost a warm up match to Wales (13-6) in Cardiff last month but they had beaten the Welsh (33-19) at Twickenham a week earlier and subsquent preperations saw them thrash Ireland (57-15) and Italy (37-0).
In RWC 2015 England became the first outright host nation to fail to make it out of the pool stage as they lost key matches to Wales and Australia.
Although they have France and Argentina for company in this pool England are hot favourites to finish top at around 4/11 and to win the tournament they are joint second favourites at around 4/1.
Tonga are another side who have yet to reach the knockout rounds and they conceded 92 points to the All Blacks in a recent warm up. IN RWC 2015 they failed to trouble New Zealand and Argentina and they were also turned over by Georgia leaving them with just 1 win which came against Namibia.
Odds of around 350/1 for Tonga to top this pool illustrate the size of the task they face.
England: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Tom Curry, 5 Maro Itoje, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Dan Cole, 19 George Kruis, 20 Lewis Ludlam, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Jonathan Joseph
Tonga: 15 David Halaifonua, 14 Atieli Pakalani, 13 Siale Piutau (c), 12 Cooper Vuna, 11 Viliami Lolohea, 10 Kurt Morath, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Maama Vaipulu, 7 Zane Kapeli, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Halaleva Fifita, 4 Sam Lousi, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Sosefo Sakalia, 1 Siegfried ‘Fisiihoi
Replacements: 16 Siua Maile, 17 Latu Talakai, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Dan Faleafa, 20 Nasi Manu, 21 Leon Fukofuka, 22 James Faiva, 23 Nafi Tu’itavake
Head to Head
The teams have met just twice before. IN RWC 2007 England won a pool stage match 36-20 in Paris and in RWC 1999 England dished out a 101-10 hiding to Tonga at Twickenham.
Betting - Handicap
England -42.5 points at 9/10
Tonga +44.5 points at 9/10
Quotes are an average of what was on offer from a selection of bookmakers at the time of writing and are subject to change.
There has been movement in this handicap since England named what many consider to be a stronger than expected team. Forum punters were pointed to the -38.5 at Betxchange by Hanrick one of our veterans and that line quickly shifted to current levels of 42.5 to 44.5.
I expect the English to be far too strong for Tonga and am looking for them to pull clear early and will take the -19.5 1st half handicap.
Bet: 3 units England -19.5 1st half handicap at 19/20 at Sportingbet