Fiji v Italy
Fiji enters into the third week of fixtures as the highest scoring team in the competition, amassing 130 points against Wales and the USA. They were hardly difficult matches but the way in which they executed ensured that they were noticed and they will want to record another dominating win here. Italy bounced back from an upset loss to Ireland in Week 1; with a resounding 46-nil win over the USA. It was a sign of what is possible within this team and provided them with hope that they could take the momentum into this game. In reality, they do not have the quality that their opponents have and this game is a matter of how much Fiji can win by. Given how dominant they have been so far and the struggles of Italy in their first match, the confidence gained over the first two matches should mean that Fiji not only display their strong attacking ability, but also a strong defensive grit that will be needed going forward.
Fiji -21.5 @ $1.80
New Zealand v Tonga
This is one match that everyone has been looking forward to the entire tournament, ever since Jason Taumalolo and a few other players made the decision to play for the island nation. Since then, the form of Tonga has been outstanding to say the least; they dominated Scotland in their opening encounter and outlasted Samoa in Week 2 to prevail by 14-points. The belief is building within this team that they can be a force in the Finals and they have the perfect stage to prove themselves worthy against the second ranked team in the world. Things have gone to plan thus far for New Zealand; their win last week over Scotland returned confidence to their side after lacking some during stages of their first match against Samoa. Now, they should be ready to face the power of Tonga and show the class that they possess within their team. This is bound to be a brutal contest in the middle, with each team aiming to establish dominance in the middle of the field. Tonga definitely have the power to match it with their opponents here and for them to win this game, it is going to come down to whether or not they play with discipline on both sides of the ball. Assuming they can, this match is going to be a lot closer than the odds suggest, with the margin set to be less than 10-points.
Tonga +9.5 @ $1.80
Samoa v Scotland
Neither team has won a match thus far and both have looked horribly outclassed by both New Zealand and Tonga. Nevertheless, the equation is simple, win this game and progress through to the next round. If this is achieved, the struggles experienced in the first two weeks will undoubtedly disappear. The difficulty for Scotland will be overcoming their horror defensive record; so far this tournament they have conceded 124 points and scored just 10. On the other hand, Samoa were comprehensively beaten by New Zealand in their first match, yet improved last week to suffer a 32-18 loss to rivals Tonga. They showed in this game that while they are below their best, they are a far better team than Scotland. This means that not only should they win this game comfortably, they will cover the line.
Samoa -34.5 @ $1.80
Australia v Lebanon
Australia remained undefeated with a strong performance last week against France, winning the contest as expected 52-6. Many were expecting a more comfortable margin, although France had moments whereby they played well and it was consistency that let them down. Still, younger players were handed an international debut and filled the void of the more experienced players. For Lebanon, they were beaten by England 29-10 and performed well at times during that contest. The difference in their match was the quality within each side and the ability to maintain pressure. If they found England difficult, the Kangaroos will be another tough task altogether as the hosts beat them 18-4 in the opening fixture of the 2017 RLWC. They will be passionate and some of their NRL players will have a point to prove, but that will only take them so far in this contest.
Kangaroos 31-40 @ $4.50
PNG v USA
The less said about this game, the better. PNG have played outstandingly well in their first two matches and showed just how tough they could be with a 14-6 win over a spirited Ireland team. Against the better sides, they will have to improve upon their 64% completion rate and reduce their 20 total errors. They will have no issue beaten the USA here and should win this game comfortably against a team that has given up 104-12 in their first two matches.
PNG -58.5 @ $1.90
Wales v Ireland
Wales have attempted to be competitive in their matches but have failed with losses to Fiji and PNG by a combined 122-12. They have been outplayed in all areas and felt the full force of Fiji, who beat them 72-6 last week in style. Ireland have been a surprise packet thus far, upsetting Italy in Week 1 and pushing PNG to a 14-6 loss. While PNG were not great in their execution, Ireland were far worse and a 58% completion rate with 44% share of possession. Nevertheless, they head into this game as deserving favorites after playing strongly in the first fixture. They are relying on other results to progress and all they will be able to control here is their own performance. Many believe that their attacking ability and confidence will be down following last week, yet they proved in Week 1 just how dangerous they can be with the ball in hand. With Wales missing a combined 134 tackles in their first two matches (averaging 67 per match), things could get out of control very quickly.
Ireland -28.5 @ $2
England v France
England won their first match last week and improved on their opening match against Australia, beating Lebanon 29-10. It was no surprise that they won in such fashion, given the strength of their squad compared to their opponents and they are expected to perform to a similar standard here. France did well during stages of their contest against Australia, eventually going down 52-6. They managed to do the small things right, completing at 83%, although missing 44 tackles hurt their chances of limiting their opponents attacking opportunities. France is not without motivation for this game, if they win this game by a certain margin, they will leapfrog Lebanon into the Finals. They would need to produce a stunning performance to upset England and France were looking tired towards the end of their previous match. You’re going to have to take an exotic bet or two to find value in this game and it could be a matter of the motivation levels for France when they take the field that has the largest impact on this result.
England 31-40 @ $4