The 2019 Rugby World Cup quarter-finals continue on Sunday with Japan looking to continue their magical ride against the Springboks. Wales and France face off in a Six Nations clash in the other game.
Wales vs. France – Ota Stadium, Ota
The first match on Sunday sees Pool D winner Wales take on France who finished second in Pool C. Wales took 19 out of a possible 20 points in the pool stage, with wins over Australia, Fiji, Georgia, and Uruguay. This is an under the radar team despite their ranking as No. 2 in the world. France will be fresh after their final pool game against England was canceled due to the impending threat of Typhoon Hagibis. They made this stage on the back of one good half – and one crucial drop goal – against Argentina.
Wales have been boosted by the return to fitness of both centre Jonathan Davies and fly-half Dan bigger for this quarter-final tie. Both should dlot back into the starting lineup, with Biggar the best option to control the side at pivot and Davies, assuming his knee is good to go, given the Welsh one of the top players at doing everything well in world rugby.
France will be hoping that they have the ability to fuse together their talented individuals and turn on the intensity no we have reached knockout rugby. They were lucky to survive against Tonga when they won just 23-21 and they didn’t look at all good in that game. Their play has been fractured in Japan – they are another team with questions in the halves – but in centre Gael Fickou they have a legitimate game-breaking player.
Best Bet – Wales beat teams by being fitter, stronger, and smarter around the pitch. Those are the ideal ingredients to beat a French side that is extremely lucky to have made it out of the pool stage at the expense of Argentina. Take Wales -7 at 0.90 with BetXchange and expect a comfortable win.
Japan vs. South Africa – Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo
This Japanese team will already be treated as legends in their country for time eternal after they shocked both Ireland Scotland with wins on their way to claiming top spot in Pool A. South Africa, on the other hand, lost their opening game to New Zealand, but will fancy their chances at progression here against the only Tier 2 nation left in the tournament. Could we be in for another ‘Brighton Miracle’ style result in Tokyo?
The two sides met before this tournament in a late warm-up match with South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus picking his strongest side to exorcise some demons from the 2015 match. The result was as to be expected when Tier 1 and Tier 2 nations clash, with South Africa rolling to a 41-7 win. This, though is a different Japanese outfit, one pushed on by the home crowd and with heroes such as Kenki Fukuoka looking to make more history on Sunday.
The best news for South Africa is that exciting winger Cheslin Kolbe is back in contention here after returning to training on Tuesday. He missed the match against Canada with an Ankle injury, but he will be needed against a Japanese side who have distilled speed at the breakdown and the ability to get the ball wide into a fine art. Back row Francois Louw also looks to be back to fitness after a knee problem
Best Bet – The key for South Africa here will be to try to treat this just like another Test match. The stadium atmosphere is going to be incredible, with the Boks needing to rise above that din to take over the game. It is a fascinating clash, but it is one that the Springboks could easily put away early with a few quick tries. One market we like is Japan to win the race to 10 points at 2.50 with BetXchange. They are a fast-starting team that looks to build leads and hold on and that will be their plan against South Africa.