RWC 2019 Pool D: Fiji vs Uruguay
Venue: Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium, Kamaishi City
Date: Wednesday, September 25, 2019
This will be the Uruguayans bow in the 2019 Rugby World Cup after they were the team in Pool D that did not play in the opening round. The South Americans are rank outsiders in the pool, but they are a veteran World Cup presence and they have been the second-best team in South America – after Argentina – pretty much ever since the Rugby World Cup debuted in 1987.
Fiji would still like to think that they have a shot at getting out of this pool even though that task was made monumentally more difficult after the Pacific Islanders lost to Australia. It was a thrilling game until the Aussies ran away with it late, with Fiji showing the sort of pace and power that is expected of them given their running ability and the way that their backs and forwards are able to link together.
Fiji coach John McKee has made wholesale changes to his starting lineup for this match against the pool minnows. This isn’t a reflection on how his players played against Australia, more it is a chance to try out some of the fringe players in his 31-man squad to keep his stars fit and healthy for later games.
That is why McKee has made 12 changes to his side, with only captain Dominko Waqaniburotu, Leone Nakwara, and Semi Radradra keeping their places in the starting lineup. That is not to say that they are all playing in the same positions as their did against the Wallabies, with Radradra moving in from his wing spot fo his more traditional role of No. 13 for this game. A couple of the changes are enforced, with back-rowers Viliame Mata and Peceli Yato ruled out through injury.
The Uruguayans will have nine survivors from the team that beat Canada back in 2019 to secure their place in this tournament take to the pitch as starters on Wednesday. That includes the center pairing of Andres Vilaseca and Juan Manuel Cat, who both scored in the game and who are among the most dangerous Uruguayan players who will be on the pitch.
This is a rematch of a game played at the last World Cup in the pool stages of the 2015 event. Eight Uraguayan starters from Wednesday played in that match – including captain Juan Manuel Gaminara – a match that Fiji comfortably won 47-15.
Fiji are the heavy favourties here and – as with all games in this tournament where a heavy favourite is involved – it is very hard to see a scenario where Uruguay can win. Their best bet is to use their power in the pack, working the ball in tight situations and trying to keep the Fijian backs away from the ball. The points spread here is 30.5, a number that you would back Fiji to take if their full lineup was on the field. Given the changes, however, the smarter money would be on the Uruguayans covering the spread at 0.90 with BetXChange.