New Zealand and Wales will contest the Rugby World Cup Bronze Final at the Tokyo Stadium on Friday and the All Blacks are hot favourites to come out on top.
New Zealand v Wales, Friday 1st November, Tokyo, KO 11:00 (South African time)
Weather Forecast – Tokyo Stadium
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Pascal Gauzere (France)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
New Zealand's bid for a third successive RWC title ended in Yokohama on Saturday when they lost 19-7 to an inspired England side. The All Blacks started as 7.5 point favourites for that game but they conceded a try after just 2 minutes and they were 10-0 down by half time. New Zealand's first points of the match came through a converted Ardie Savea try on 57 minutes which reduced the deficit to 13-7 but England never looked likely to buckle and there were no excuses for the defeat.
New Zealand had cruised past Ireland (46-14) in their quarter final which was staged at this venue. In the pool stage they began with a 23-13 win over the Springboks and went on to complete a 63-0 win over Canada and 71-9 victory over Namibia. Their final pool match against Italy was cancelled and overall New Zealand have scored 30 tries and conceded just 4.
Jordie Barrett is the leading try scorer for the All Blacks with 3 whilst 8 other players have scored 2 tries in the tournament so far.
This will be the All Blacks fourth appearance in the Bronze Final. In 2003 they beat France (40-13) in Sydney. In 1999 they lost (22-19) to South Africa in Cardiff and in 1991 they beat Scotland (13-6), also in Cardiff.
Wales' semi final against South Africa was staged on Sunday, a real arm wrestle was widely predicted and that Is exactly what we got with Wales coming up short in a 19-16 defeat. Wales were bidding for a first ever RWC final place and they started the game as 6 point underdogs. Penalties were traded in the first half with the Boks going into half time with a 9-6 lead. Wales levelled the matter at 9-9 before conceding the first try of the game just before the hour mark. Josh Adams try, subsequently converted made it 16-16 with 15 minutes remaining but South Africa landed what proved to be the decisive penalty 4 minutes from time.
Wales came through their quarter final match up with France by the narrowest of margins. The final score finished 20-19 in Wales favour with a converted try 5 minutes from time overhauling France who played most of the second half with 14 men.
Earlier Wales had topped Pool D with a 100% record. They started with a 43-14 win over Georgia before winning the pool's defining game against Australia 29-25 at this venue. They also saw off a spirited effort from Fiji in a 29-17 victory and were already assured of a quarter final place by the time they beat Uruguay 35-13.
Wales have scored 20 tries in the tournament so far whilst conceding 13. Josh Adams is their leading try scorer with 6 whilst Gareth Davies, Liam Williams and Tomos Williams have 2.
Wales have appeared in 2 previous Bronze Finals. In 1987 they landed third place with a 22-21 win over Australia and in 2007 the Wallabies won another tight contest 21-18.
New Zealand: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody
Substitutes: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Atu Moli, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Anton Lienert-Brown, 23 Jordie Barrett
Wales: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 James Davies, 6 Justin Tipuric, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Adam Beard, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Nicky Smith
Substitutes: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Wyn Jones, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Aaron Shingler, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Hadleigh Parkes
Head to Head
Wales last beat the All Blacks all of 66 years ago, 13-8 in Cardiff.
Since then New Zealand have reeled off 30 straight wins over Wales, 3 of which came in RWC tournaments;
In RWC 2003 New Zealand won a pool stage match in Sydney 53-37 (8 tries to 4).
In RWC 1995 New Zealand won a pool stage match in Johannesburg 33-9 (3 tries to 0).
In RWC 1987 New Zealand won a semi final clash in Brisbane 49-6 (8 tries to 1).
Most Recent Head to Heads
2017 INT Cardiff Wales 18–33 New Zealand
2016 INT Dunedin New Zealand 46–6 Wales
2016 INT Wellington New Zealand 36-22 Wales
2016 INT Auckland New Zealand 39-21 Wales
2014 INT Cardiff Wales 16–34 New Zealand
2012 INT Cardiff Wales 10–33 New Zealand
2010 INT Cardiff Wales 25–37 New Zealand
2010 INT Hamilton New Zealand 29–10 Wales
2010 INT Dunedin New Zealand 42–9 Wales
Early Betting – Handicap
New Zealand -18.5 points at 9/10
Wales +18.5 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.
This is the game that nobody wants to play but it still provides betting opportunities so you will not see me complaining.
The All Blacks will be bitterly disappointed by their exit to England where they were outplayed and there is a danger that morale will be low in the camp. They have so much quality in the squad though and I expect the likes of Ben Smith and other fresh players to get a run.
Wales have been hard hit by injuries to key players and I get the feeling they are wobbling and would rather do anything but play the All Blacks on Friday.
The All Blacks hammered the Irish in the quarters and I can see them putting Wales away here.
Bet: 6 units All Blacks -18.5 points at 9/10 widely available
The Handicap, Rugby Betting Show