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After some incredible action during the group stages the Rugby World Cup has reached the quarter finals, with eight teams still in with a chance of lifting the famous Web Ellis Trophy. On Sunday it’s the turn of Scotland as they take on Australia, and Ireland as they face Argentina. The Scots will have to raise their game considerably to tackle the victors of England and Wales, with the Wallabies looking increasingly ominous in their World Cup campaign. Ireland meanwhile, avoided a crunch clash against New Zealand by topping pool D, and they will fancy their chances against pool C runners-up Argentina.
World Cup Round-Up
After hammering the final nail into the English coffin, Australia went on to produce a tournament-defining performance against Wales in the 15-6 victory last weekend. Despite being down to 13 men they displayed defensive heroics to keep the Welsh advance at bay, and are rightly favourites for their quarter final with Scotland. The Scots were briefly given a shot at finishing top of pool B after South Africa were shocked by Japan in the opening match, but despite winning all three of their other games, they went down to the Springboks and ultimately finished as runners-up. They were dealt a further blow with the news that forwards Ross Ford and Jonny Gray have both been issued with bans for dangerous tackles in the 36-33 win over Samoa.
Ireland faced a huge final pool match against France, which as expected, was set to determine who finished top of pool D and avoided the All Blacks in the quarters. The Irish ran out 24-9 winners in a physical encounter and earned the ‘easier’ of the quarter final games against Argentina. The Argentinians were second in Pool C behind New Zealand, and come into the Ireland game as slight underdogs, but with nothing to lose. Both games will be fascinating contests, but our tip of the day is with Australia who look like being far too strong for an average Scotland side.
Australia v Scotland
Australia -15 is 1/1 2.00 +100 1.00 1.00 -1.00 with Bwin and the Wallabies are fancied to overcome the points handicap.
The Aussies weren’t among the most fancied sides leading into the competition, with plenty of changes behind the scenes giving the side the look of one in transition. However, they’ve done everything asked of them from the opening 28-13 defeat of Fiji, to the 33-13 demolition of an ill-disciplined England team. The Scots have a history of giving away cheap penalties – it cost them in the Six Nations – and they won’t be able to afford many mistakes if the Wallabies are as ruthless as they were in that game. The Aussies, so often praised for their attacking abilities, also showed the quality of their defensive game against Wales, and there are few obvious weaknesses for the Scottish team to exploit.
Scotland’s World Cup has been one of success though, after a pretty torrid 2015 which saw them fail to win an international until the two warm-up victories over Italy prior to the tournament. They comfortably beat Japan and USA before predictably going down to South Africa, but they bounced back by hanging on to a 36-33 win over Samoa to clinch their place in the quarters. That match may have come at a cost though, with Ford and Gray both suspended after citing commissioner Scott Nowland accused Ford of breaking the rules on dangerous tackles, while Gray was alleged to have committed an illegal tip tackle. The players have 48 hours to appeal, but it appears unlikely that the bans will be rescinded and neither player is expected to be cleared to play.
Scotland have managed to beat Australia twice in recent tour matches, in 2009 and 2012, but overall the Wallabies have won 19 of 28 meetings, and it would be a brave man who bets against them making it 20 from 29 on Sunday. The Green and Gold are expected to be too strong and hold too many questions for Scotland to answer, and it would be no surprise to see them put a flattering slant on the scoreline towards the end of the game as they exploit Scottish desperation, much as they did against England.
Ireland v Argentina
In Sunday’s other match Ireland -5 appeals at 11/10 2.10 +110 1.10 1.10 -0.91 with Bet365
The Irish have made their way to the quarters in fine fashion, winning all four matches to top Pool D with 18 points. Their progress has come at a cost though, with several key players ruled out through injury or suspension. Captain Paul O’Connell saw his international career cruelly ended with a hamstring injury in the win over France, while Peter O’Mahony suffered a knee injury in the same game, and also misses out. Influential fly-half Johnny Sexton is a major doubt, and flanker Sean O’Brien will definitely miss the Argentina game having admitted that he punched France’s Pascal Pape during last Sunday’s win. The missing players will be a loss to Ireland, but they have a squad ready to step up to the mark, with the likes of Chris Henry, Jordi Murphy and Iain Henderson in contention for starting berths.
After running New Zealand fairly close in their opening game, the Argentinians scored three impressive victories over Georgia, Tonga and Namibia to cruise into second place. None of those three rivals put up much of a fight however, and it will be interesting to see how they fare against a better side. Ireland have won the last five meetings, and 10 of 15 overall, so they definitely have the psychological edge going into the game. It will be a huge battle, but it’s one in which we think Ireland can come out on top of, and if they find their rhythm a -5 handicap is not insurmountable.
Australia -15 to beat Scotland
Sunday 18th October, 16:00 GMT
Odds: 1/1 2.00 +100 1.00 1.00 -1.00
Ireland -5 to beat Argentina
Sunday 18th October, 20:00 GMT
Odds: 11/10 2.10 +110 1.10 1.10 -0.91