Wed, Oct 25, 3:17pm by Staff Writer
The Rugby League World Cup 2017 kicks off this Friday night in Melbourne. Australia and England will meet to start what is shaping up to be one of the most competitive World Cups in recent memory. Many of the lower ranked nations have drafted in some star names but it is the two traditional power houses of rugby league that will commence the tournament.
Australia vs England, Friday 27th October, Melbourne
Current holders and co-hosts for this tournament, Australia, will be keen to lay down a marker when they take on England in the opening game. Injured star Johnathan Thurston won’t be out there with the side but has taken a keen interest in the sides planned special Welcome to Country. That proud moment for the Kangaroos will be just the start as they look to retain their title. Australia have won their last ten games against England and will be confident of continuing that streak.
They stand at $1.14 for the win on Friday. They have named a strong side to take on England in a game that will likely dictate who finishes top of the group and have an easier path to the Final. Mal Meninga has been able to call on experience in the likes of Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith and Billy Slater as well as fresh new talent in the form of Michael Morgan and Jake Trbojevic.
Last time England played at the Rectangular Stadium in Melbourne they were controversially denied a potential match winning try in the dying minutes. Video evidence showed England winger Ryan Hall had a finger on the ball with the game poised at 16-12. That was not to be, but they will out to right some wrongs as they take on the Kangaroos. Head Coach Wayne Bennett has opted for a forward centric side with no backs named on the bench and a loose forward in the centres.
Clearly England’s plan to overturn a price of $5.75, is to physically pound down the Kangaroos. The English side does not feature players of the winning pedigree of Smith and Cronk, yet they do have plenty of talent that could cause Australia problems. The halves combinations includes Super League Man of Steel Luke Gale as well as the NRL half back of the year Gareth Widdop.
Despite that close loss the last time they were in Melbourne, England have often struggled to contain the Kangaroos. The last time they met in last year’s Four Nations, they went down 36-18, meaning the favourite margin is a 13+ win for Australia at $1.62. In comparison the same score margin for an England win is $19. England’s best hope is a win of 1-12 points at $7 with that margin for a Kangaroos win at $3.30. An unprecedented draw is at $34.
Whilst it is the opening match of the tournament, it will go a long way to deciding who has the easier route to the Final and ultimately to lifting the World Cup. It is high stakes rugby league in Melbourne as England look to create an upset.
Bet of the Match: Australia to Win by 1-12 points at $3.30
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