Week in Sport Betting Preview : Rugby World Cup shocks and a boxing classic
- 21-27 Oct
- Live on ITV and Sky Sports
It is a huge week of sport, with the Rugby World Cup semi-finals taking place in Japan, world class boxing coming to London and the Formula One seasons winding its way to Mexico City. Here are the best value bets for the week ahead.
England have it all to do against New Zealand - Saturday October 26 9am KO
England are into their fifth semi-final at the Rugby World Cup but they have the toughest test in the sport ahead of them as they take on New Zealand in Yokohama for a place in the final.
Eddie Jones’ side have been thoroughly impressive so far this tournament, topping their pool and then comfortably seeing off Australia in an entertaining quarter-final. The 40-16 win over the Wallabies will have given the English plenty of confidence and they will need it against the All Blacks.
New Zealand turned in an even more dominant display in their last eight match, beating Ireland 46-14 and rarely looking troubled. They have done plenty to justify their tag as clear favourites to win the tournament, mostly by seeing off South Africa in their opening pool game, but the demolition of the Irish certainly helped to confirm their place at the top of the sport.
The All Blacks are just 2/5 to win this game and it is hard to see them failing to do so. England are dangerous and a very good team in their own right, but their record against the Kiwis tells a clear story, England have won just one of the last 16 meetings between the teams.
However, despite the one-sided nature of the history between the sides, recent games have been tight, and none tighter than the last meeting in November 2018 when New Zealand scraped a 16-15 win at Twickenham. England can certainly pose some problems for the All Blacks and will not be blown away by them like the Irish were.
Backing England to win is a step too far in this one, but backing them in the handicap market is certainly worth a look. The Red Rose are always capable of scoring and have proved their reasonably tight defence this tournament, they will fall short, but it will be close.
The Tartan Tornado can pull off the upset over Prograis - Saturday October 26
With heavyweight boxing recapturing the public’s imagination, this bout between Josh Taylor and Regis Prograis has flown a little under the radar, but there is no doubt that London is going to be treated to a potential classic fight on Saturday night.
Taylor (15-0) and Prograis (24-0) are two of the brightest undefeated stars in the sport and will battle it out for super lightweight supremacy at the O2. Both hold world titles, but only one will by the end of the evening, and that man will also be crowned the World Boxing Super Series champion.
Both have enjoyed almost perfect careers to date, clearly neither has lost, but nor have they come close to. Neither has been down as a professional, neither has had a scorecard given against them, Taylor has 12 knockouts from his 15 wins while Prograis has 20 stoppages from his 24 victories.
It is an extremely tough one to call, which is why there is great value in every possible result in London on Saturday. Prograis is the favourite, but the Scot, on UK soil looks a very tempting bet to upset the American and claim all the gold. Taylor has a two inch height and reach advantage over Prograis and he really is a masterful boxer, adept at using his physical advantages, cutting a big figure for 140lbs.
Prograis showed what he could do against tall southpaws when he knocked out Julius Indongo in round two last year, but Taylor is far from the style of the Namibian and won’t take nearly as many shots as Indongo did in a short space of time.
The American will walk forward and probably be the aggressor, but Taylor will show off his superior technique and look to out-box him from the outside. If this fight was being held in the US then Prograis would be worth backing as the judges would lean towards his style, but with the crowd on his side, Taylor is great value to get the nod over 12 rounds in the UK.
Wales have a superb record against South Africa - Sunday October 27 9am KO
Wales find themselves in their first World Cup semi-final since 2011 having won all five of their matches, including against Australia and France, and yet few give them much of a chance against South Africa on Sunday in Yokohama.
The Welsh were not particularly fancied going into the tournament, but they have been proving people wrong with their victories over the Aussies and the French. They were narrow wins against teams not at the peak of their powers, but nonetheless they are impressive scalps.
South Africa were being talked about as potential winners going into the World Cup and they have been good, if not spectacular so far. They were reasonably comfortably seen off by New Zealand in their opening pool game, which put a dent in the upset hopes early, but have cruised to the semi-finals after that loss.
The Springboks are prohibitive favourites to win this match, going in at 2/5 but Wales have a much better chance than those odds suggest. The Welsh have won their last four matches against South Africa and five of the last six, dating back to November 2014. South Africa have admitted themselves, through coach Rassie Erasmus, that they have not quite managed to produce their best over a full 80 minutes and Wales, who are brilliant at finding a way to win, can punish this inconsistency of performance.
Like the first semi-final, the runaway favourites will not have it all their own way, and even if Wales fall short, it will be a very close affair.
Arsenal in for more trouble from the Eagles - Sunday October 27
Arsenal are back on home territory this weekend, but that might not be enough to help them out when they take on Crystal Palace, as they look to recover from their limp defeat to Sheffield United on Monday night.
The Gunners were dreadful in South Yorkshire as they were beaten 1-0 and Unai Emery is under increasing pressure as whatever plan he is trying to implement is not paying off. Desperate to play out from the back, but without the skills to do so, Arsenal are continually made to look foolish by lesser teams and the same can happen on Sunday afternoon.
Palace are just one point and one place behind Arsenal in the Premier League table, which is something of a surprise after a summer of disruption in the transfer market. Not a great deal was expected of the Eagles this campaign, but wily old fox Roy Hodgson is proving his worth once again. They don’t score a great number of goals, but keep it tight, are well organised and are no easy task for any side.
The Eagles won at the Emirates last season and the last five games between the sides have produced two wins each and a draw, so perfectly even. Arsenal really struggle to keep clean sheets, just two in nine Premier League games, while Palace have managed one more in the same period of time.
Easy to frustrate and liable to defensive mistakes, Arsenal are rarely worth backing. The double chance on Crystal Palace or a draw looks tremendous value.
Verstappen loves life in Mexico City - Sunday October 27
The 2019 Formula One season is petering out somewhat as Lewis Hamilton strolls towards a third consecutive world title, and sixth in total without too much competition at all. The Brit has won just one of the last five races, but his dominance earlier in the season has given him a very plump and comfortable cushion which means he can largely coast along to another victory.
This is partly why we have the rare occurrence that he is not favourite for the Mexican Grand Prix this weekend, with Charles Leclerc taking that mantle. Hamilton has struggled in Mexico more than most tracks over the last two years, finishing fourth last year and ninth in 2017. With recent form this year and recent form in Mexico, Lewis is not worth backing this weekend.
A man who is worth investing in is Max Verstappen, who loves it at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, winning there in each of the last two years. The Dutchman is out of contention for the world title, but he has a realistic chance of finishing third in the Drivers’ Championship and an outside hope of pinching second place. A good performance in Mexico again would keep those hopes very much alive.
Backing the Red Bull driver to win the race is a fairly substantial gamble, with Hamilton, Leclerc, Valterri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel all sharing race wins in recent weeks, but given his expertise in Mexico we can certainly expect Verstappen to grab a podium finish on Sunday.
- England have won one of their last 16 games against New Zealand
- Japan’s Yu Tamura is the top point scorer at the Rugby World Cup going into the semi-finals (51)
- Kotaro Matsushima, Makazole Mapimpi and Josh Adams all have five tries this tournament
- New Zealand have lost three World Cup semi-finals, no team has lost more
- Wales have never won a World Cup semi-final, losing two
- Neither Josh Taylor nor Regis Prograis has been down in their professional careers
- Taylor has a knockout ratio of 80% while Prograis’ is 83.33%
- Taylor has a two inch height and reach advantage over the American
- Max Verstappen has won the last two Mexican Grand Prix
- Ferrari have not won the Mexican Grand Prix since it returned to the calendar in 2015