Ireland to win by 13+ points – 6/4
The wait is over for Irish Rugby fans as finally get their Rugby World Cup underway on Sunday morning against Six Nations rivals Scotland.
The opening game of the 2019 World Cup for Joe Schmidt’s side is against the perceived second strongest team in the group. To paraphrase one famous Scot, Alex Ferguson, ‘Lads, its only Scotland’
If New Zealand or South Africa were to play the Scots this weekend, you would be confident in them racking up a big score. So why not Ireland?
In time-honoured fashion, becoming number one in the world has weighed on the Irish rugby public like the globe on Atlas’ back.
The handicap in this game is Ireland (-8) at Evens. What it should be, is a lot higher. This is the number one team in the World against number seven. Ireland have won six of their last seven games against Scotland – including their last two in a row.
There should be no shock result here. Ireland to win by 13+ points is the real bet at 6/4. That is only the equivalent of two converted tries ahead of the Scots and when you put it that way, it is more than possible.
First try scorer: Rory Best – 16/1
This is always a hard market to call, but one that offers more satisfaction than most if it comes in. So much can happen in games like these and whoever starts the game well can have a huge influence on who is going to cross that whitewash first.
For this reason, I am going to go a little outside the box here and plump for Rory Best as first try scorer at 16/1.
If the weather is as bad as they say it is going to be in Yokohama, the opening periods of this game are going to be a mix of knock-ons, scrum penalties and mauls.
Should Ireland get a foothold in the game, they will get into the Scottish 22 and either go to the power game of picking and driving from rucks, just inching their way along, or they will go to the corner and maul from a lineout.
What player is front and centre on those carries just short, as well as being the man at the back of the mauls? Yep, Rory Best.
The captain is playing in his fourth World Cup and what a fitting way to get this one up and running with an early (or late) first try of the game.
Man of the Match: Finn Russell – 20/1
It has been all about the Irish so far in this preview, so what of the Tartan army?
Gregor Townsend’s men are known for their willingness to play high risk rugby, with width and off-loads being their go to options. The Scots are one of the most unpredictable sides to judge in World Rugby. Second perhaps to the French, who they beat in a World Cup warm up game.
The Scots are not going to be short on heart, work rate and passion, but they need someone to tie all of that together. They need a leader to bring the team together and perform with some form of shape and pattern. Is Finn Russell the man to do this?
The Racing 92 out-half is World Class, when he decides to turn up that is.
On Sunday morning we are going to either see Russell struggle under the pressure of Ireland’s defence or he is going to run the show like William Wallis on horseback.
For that reason and to give the Scots something to look forward to, we are going to look at Finn Russell getting a Man of the Match at 20/1.