This is the last weekend of warmup matches for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Tokyo. The next time we will see these teams take the field (after Saturday) will be when the games start counting in Japan. Look to see a mixture of sides run out this weekend, with coaches working on continuity and options in their squad depending on their comfort level with what they have ready for Japan.
New Zealand vs. Tonga – Hamilton, NZ
New Zealand will play this game with Josh Ioane in the squad acting as injury cover for starting fly-half Richie Mo’unga. Mo’unga left the field against Australia on August 17 – the second Bledisloe Cup game – with an injured shoulder after he was landed on by Aussie flanker Lukhan Salakaia-Loto.
Mo’unga is not expected to be at 100% in time for the Tonga game and if he is not then he won’t be risked in the last World Cup warm-up match. This does pose a question or two for coach Steve Hansen as he has been working all autumn with the idea that Mo’unga starting at No. 10 will allow him to play Beauden Barrett at fullback.
Tonga are looking to improve on a dismal record against New Zealand that has seen the Tier 2 side score just two tries against the All Blacks in 400 minutes of rugby.
Best Bet – Watch for the team news, and specifically information about Mo’unga, before making a bet here. If the News Zealand side is strong then a win by 30-40 points wouldn’t be a surprise.
Australia vs. Samoa – Parramatta, Aus
After underperforming for three and a half years, Australia seems to have finally found a little bit of form with the World Cup just a matter of weeks away.
The news for the Wallabies is even better this week, with David Pocock having been cleared to play his first Test match in over a year at Bankwest Stadium. Pocock will come into the back row and hope to replace the production of Michael Hooper who has been rested for the game by Michael Cheika.
It is a mixture of youth and experience in the 23, with Will Genia and Bernard Foley in the halves, and exciting young players like Rob Valetini and Liam Wright on the bench.
The game could see a clash between the Alaalatoa brothers, with Michael Alaalatoa named in the 31-man Samoa squad for the World Cup.
Best Bet – The Wallabies will have too much for Samoa, but this is an understrength Australia team so the game will be closer than expected. Take the home side to win by 16-20 points at 6.00 with BetXChange.
Ireland vs. Wales – Dublin, Ire
This is maybe the most important game of the whole weekend as two teams that have aspirations of making the semi-finals of the World Cup meet in Dublin. Neither will want to travel to Japan on the back of a defeat here, so expect more intensity from the players than in some of the other games to be played over the course of Friday and Saturday.
Ireland played well in defeating Wales last time out and they will want to back that up with a win on home soil. Ireland will need to see some minutes from Johnny Sexton – he has not played all autumn because of an injury – especially as backup fly-half Joey Carbery is still on the sidelines.
Wales will be fielding a more experienced side than the experimental squad that took the field in Cardiff last weekend. They will need to see more out of their stars to avoid another frustrating defeat in Dublin.
Best Bet – Look for Wales to atone for their miserable outing last week. The underdogs will win this one outright with BetXChange offering them at 1.85 to do so.