Bet of the Day: England to win easily against USA at Rugby World CupPublished on: September 26, 2019Author: Antonia Kelly
Having won their opening game of the World Cup, England need at a maximum two more wins to ensure a place in the knockout stages of the competition. That would be an immediate improvement on their performance in the 2015 edition – when they became the first host country ever to exit the tournament in the pool stages after losing to an injury-besieged Wales side. They can secure the first of those wins this afternoon by defeating the USA. The Eagles, coached by former Bath and South Africa assistant Gary Gold, are the 20th and final side to play their first game in the tournament.
On the face of it, this should be a straightforward win for the English side, even one which features ten changes from their 35-3 victory over Tonga. Eddie Jones has stated in recent interviews that the curiously subdued early performance from his side on Sunday was deliberate – a “rope-a-dope” strategy designed to pull the opposition out of shape. In the run-up to today’s encounter he has claimed that there will be no repeat of this strategy, and the shock-and-awe approach that England favoured in this year’s Six Nations will be the order of the day.
Score early, score often for Jones’ men?
One can’t discount the possibility that in talking so openly about his tactical approach in the lead-in to this match, Jones was attempting to bluff his position, but it seems unlikely. Frankly, England will have much tougher opposition than the USA during this tournament – in fact, the Eagles are probably the weakest side they will face in the entirety of 2019 – and it’s barely worth the effort of playing mind games against a team that lost all four games in 2015’s tournament, ending the pool stages without so much as a losing bonus point.
So it seems certain that England will go for the jugular here, seeking to secure the four tries necessary for a five-point win before half time. This makes Betway’s odds of ⅘ on a try within the first ten minutes very attractive indeed. In the Six Nations, the times of England’s first tries across their five matches were 2, 2, 27, 8 and 2 minutes. The anomalous figure there – the 27 – came against Wales in the only match the English lost. It seems fanciful to imagine that the American side could hold out for much longer than Ireland or France, especially with England’s second-string players determined to make a case for inclusion in bigger matches.
Comfortable procession for England
Some things have changed since the 2015 World Cup. England aren’t trying to make Sam Burgess happen, and have conceded that there might be some merit in selecting flankers who can compete at the breakdown. The USA now has a professional rugby competition, in the form of Major League Rugby. All in all, there is less reason to believe that either side will humiliate themselves in quite the same way that they did four years ago. In England’s case, they’ve even been argued as contenders to win the Rugby World Cup, which impartial observers might argue seems fanciful for a side that, only six months ago, conceded 38 unanswered points against Scotland.
As positive a move as the arrival of professional rugby in the States may be, there’s still a long way to go before they are pencilled in as a side that can kick it in the knockout stages of a World Cup. If they are to deliver a Uruguay-style shock victory in this pool, it’s more likely to come against France if the Eagles can catch them on one of their incredibly frequent bad days. Though Jones predicts that the opposition will come out like “fifteen Donald Trumps” – a bizarre statement which, as far as anyone can tell, means they’ll be fired up rather than anything more libellous – it won’t do them much good. Dafabet have England at 11/8 to win even if they give the States a 38-point head start – they should surpass that margin comfortably.
Cokanasiga’s power and pace too much for the Eagles?
The USA have a team that is not without its talents. Hooker Joe Taufete’e, who since 2016 has played his club rugby in England with the Worcester Warriors, would not be out of place in a Tier 1 squad, while Leicester Tigers fans will remember Blaine Scully with no little affection. However, the talent in the USA squad is spread thinly as things stand, and over the course of 80 minutes it’s hard to see them beating a top team in a game that matters any time soon (then again, thanks to World Rugby, lower-tier nations rarely get to meet the big teams in games that matter). While they may hold up well early on, it’s decision-making under pressure that will count overall, and England have more experience.
England also have Joe Cokanasiga, who was kept under wraps at the weekend and will be keen to show the pace and power that saw Jones pluck him from Championship obscurity to play at full international level. William Hill have odds of 11/8 that he will score two or more tries, and players like him always enjoy themselves against weaker sides. The cup has seen one hat-trick so far, in its opening game – but it might be about to see another given the threat posed by Cokanasiga.
Bets of the Day
Try in the first ten minutes (Betway, ⅘); Joe Cokanasiga to score 2+ tries (William Hill, 11/8); England win with 38-point handicap (Dafabet, 11/8)