Strongest Fiji Side To Keep Score Tighter Than Usual
England v Fiji
Stuart Lancaster’s England side didn’t look that convincing in any of their warm-up games but their latest, a 21-13 victory over Ireland was their best performance of the three and should give them some momentum.
If you fancy backing them at 4/1 to win the World Cup, remember that for all outright tournament bets, BoyleSports will give you your money back as a free bet if Australia lift the Webb Ellis Trophy.
Fiji’s only defeat so far this year has come at the hands of New Zealand Maoris and they have since beaten Tonga, Japan and a strong Samoan side en route to claiming the Pacific Nations Cup. Their final warm-up game was a 47-18 victory over Canada at The Stoop a week ago, and they appear to be a settled cohesive side ahead of the tournament.
England came through their final warm-up game unscathed and will keep more or less the same side for their opening assignment, the only change being Rob Webber replacing Jamie George on the bench. Brad Barritt and Jonathan Joseph will once again be paired at centre, with Ben Youngs joining George Ford at half-back. Sam Burgess will be on the bench and is likely to get on at some stage.
Fiji will be without winger Napolioni Nalaga, who wasn’t able to get fit in time for the tournament and there was no place in the squad for Leicester Tigers’ centre Seremaia Bai or winger Tagele Naiyaravoro, but they will field a strong line-up led by influential back-row Akapusi Qera. Ospreys centre Josh Matavesi is likely to start at fly-half and the giant back Nemani Naddo could be one of the stars of the World Cup.
England have played Fiji on five occasions and have won all five. The smallest margin of victory was thirteen points and the biggest came in their last meeting, at Twickenham in 2012, when the home side ran in seven tries to record a 54-12 victory.
With England, Australia and Wales all in the same section, Group A has rightly been called the ‘Group of Death’ and Fiji’s chances of reaching the last eight appear slim.
Still, this is one of the strongest squads they’ve ever sent to a World Cup, their preparation has been excellent and it would be no surprise to see them beat one of the big three in Group A along the way.
Their opening fixture is their toughest, but England haven’t been that impressive in their warm-up games, and will be under immense pressure to start with a convincing win.
Fiji’s unpredictable style can be hard to handle and I think they can get within twenty points or so of the home side.
Back them at +25 in the Match Handicap market at Evens and as a bonus, BoyleSports will give you your money back as a free bet if the first try of the game is not converted.
*Prices correct at time of publication