Week in Sport Betting Preview : A tight Rugby World Cup Final could still go either way
- Saturday November 2
- Live on ITV, BT Sport and Sky Sports
It is a packed weekend of sport ahead, but three events stand out as must-see entertainment on Saturday, coming from Japan and America. There also happens to be some great value available at all three.
England vs South Africa - Saturday November 2
The biggest event of the sporting week is held in Yokohama this Saturday as England take on South Africa in the Rugby World Cup final. It is a repeat of the 2007 final which the Springboks won 15-6 in Paris, but it is the English that are going in as favourites to win this one.
That is completely understandable after what transpired in the semi-finals. England pulled off an absolutely sensational victory over New Zealand, beating the All Blacks 19-7 in a one-sided performance that no one saw coming. Eddie Jones’ men dominated the match and could have one by much more if it wasn’t for two disallowed tries (one very questionable) and if they hadn’t handed the Kiwis their only try of the match.
In contrast, South Africa scraped a very tight 19-16 win over Wales in a pretty dour game with the ball spending a huge amount of time in the air. Based on those performances, it is no surprise that England are favourites, but we have to expect a very close game in the final.
The last time these two sides met was almost exactly a year ago at Twickenham and England grabbed a narrow 12-11 win. Earlier in 2018, England toured South Africa with the host side winning the series 2-1, but the aggregate score was 75-76 in England’s favour. If recent encounters are anything to go by then there is not a great deal between these sides.
Not always, but Rugby World Cup finals can be very tight affairs. When South Africa won their first title, in 1995, it took extra time to do so. England’s only title, in 2003, also took an extra period. New Zealand hammered Australia four years ago, but of the six finals before that, the teams were only separated by more than nine points once.
England can get their hands on the trophy for a second time, but if they do, it will be a narrow margin, while South Africa are very capable of causing an upset. After England’s bruising clash with the All Blacks, do not expect them to trample all over the Springboks.
UFC 244: Diaz vs Masvidal – Saturday November 2
One of the most anticipated MMA cards of the year rolls around this weekend as Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal headline UFC 244 at Madison Square Garden, New York. It is set to be a thrilling night in the Big Apple, with the likes of Andrei Arlovski and Johnny Walker fighting before the Main Card even begins.
Darren Till is the underdog against Kelvin Gastelum in the co-main event and could well pull off a big upset on his middleweight debut, but the odds are even more appealing on the underdog in the headline act of the evening.
Masvidal is the clear odds-on favourite as he takes on Diaz for the brand new BMF belt. Gamebred is on a significant roll after big knockout wins over Till and Ben Askren which have set up this huge bout. However, those two wins come off losses to Stephen Thompson and Demian Maia, leaving Masvidal 2-2 in his last four.
The Miami native is renowned for losing split decisions – five of them in his career – and Diaz feels like exactly the kind of man this could happen against again. The Californian never stops coming forward, throws a lot of volume with his hands, is dangerous on the ground and is almost impossible to stop.
Despite showing off his knockout power in recent fights, and throughout his career, it is tough to see Gamebred knocking out Diaz. In fact, neither man is likely to get a finish, with Masvidal excellent at defending submissions these days.
This is going to be a five round war and Diaz looks tremendous value to come out as the winner. He does not get tired, he is dangerous everywhere, and has a slight height and reach advantage. Interestingly, neither man has ever won a five round fight, but Diaz just seems more accustomed to them, with many thinking he won his second bout with Conor McGregor over the 25 minutes.
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez vs Sergey Kovalev – Saturday November 2
A seriously intriguing bout goes down in Las Vegas this weekend as Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez tries to claim a world title in a fourth weight class when he takes on Sergey Kovalev for the WBO light heavyweight belt.
The Mexican has claimed straps at every division from light middleweight upwards, and is predictably giving up some serious height and reach against the career light heavyweight. Kovalev has a four inch height and two inch reach advantage over Canelo and he will be looking forward to using it. It is rare that anyone climbs up from 154lbs to the 175lb limit, and the Russian will be ready to impose himself on the much smaller man.
Kovalev is past his peak, few would question that. His back-to-back losses to Andre Ward took a lot out of him, mentally as much as anything because many thought he won the first bout. However, he has certainly not lost it, winning four world title fights since those losses to the American, three of them coming via knockout.
Canelo has the superior technical skills, undoubtedly, but this just seems like a step too far, even for him. The greats like Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather that have swept through the weight classes have done so from a much lighter starting point. Trying to do the same up to light heavy includes much bigger gaps in weight and leaves you at too much of a disadvantage.
It is wild that Canelo is 1/4 to win this match and Kovelev is a brilliant price as the underdog.
England have won just 15 of their 42 matches with South Africa in the past
South Africa lead the World Cup record between the sides 3-1
Handre Pollard (47) and Owen Farrell (46) will be competing to be the World Cup’s top scorer – Japan’s Yu Tamura leads the way on 51
Makazole Mapimpi has five tries to his name, one less than tournament leader Josh Adams
Jorge Masvidal holds an MMA record of 34-13, with 17 victories inside the distance
Nate Diaz is 20-11 with 16 stoppage wins, 12 of which have come via submission
Both men have only ever been knocked out once
Sergey Kovalev is 34-3-1 as a professional
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez is 52-1-2 as a pro, only losing to Floyd Mayweather in 2013
The Mexican has never fought at light heavyweight, never weighing more than 168lbs in a fight
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