Sadly, some of the Pool games in the Rugby World Cup are simply mis-matches of talent and resources. England’s meeting with Tonga on Sunday morning is one of those for sure. Tonga were on the end of a 92-7 loss to the All-Blacks recently and I fear things are not going to get any better in the coming days and weeks.
The handicap on this game is 44 points, but the result should be higher than that. England under Eddie Jones have developed a real ruthless streak and they are not going to take the foot off the gas.
England to win by 71-75 points is 17/1. The two things stopping England from doing that will be England themselves and the weather. It, sadly, won’t be Tonga.
If it’s any consolation …
This will be the third meeting between England and Tonga, with England having won the past two meetings, both at Rugby World Cups, by a combined score of 137-30. That gives us and Tonga, some hope that they will score in this game.
Tongan captain Siale Piutau plays for English club side Bristol Rugby and six other players in their starting XV are attached to English sides: Daniel Faleafa and David Halaifonua (Coventry), SonataneTakulua (Newcastle Falcons), Kurt Morath (Doncaster Knights) Cooper Vuna (Bath Rugby) and SioneKalamafoni (Leicester Tigers), so those players won’t fear the task they are faced with.
If we are looking to pick someone out from the Tongan side as a possible try scorer, we need to look at where England might be vulnerable. Not an easy thing to do. With Tuilagi and Farrell in the centre, the partnership has the potential to be World Cup winning.
However, they have not played much together in recent seasons due to Tuilagi’s injury profile. The 12-13 axis might be brilliant going forward, but what about them as a pair going backwards. (I am grasping at straws, I know) Tonga have former Australian international Cooper Vuna at 12 and the rugby league convert is a powerful runner with ball in hand.
If Tonga are to get on the scoreboard, I would be putting my few quid on him to do it.
Try, try and try again …
With England expected, by me, to score north of 10 tries the try scoring charts are definitely worth a look. The one player that epitomises Eddie Jones’ style of play is Saracens hooker Jamie George. The baby faced number two is arguably the form hooker in the World and plays with pace, power and footwork, particularly in the wider channels.
England will be looking to beat Tonga up in the scrums and line-out mauls, but also they will be looking to move the island side around the field in the searing heat of Japan. England’s forward patterns allow George to work in the five-metre channels.
Against the better sides he is there to carry, fight for yards and recycle. Against the lesser rugby nations, he will still be out there, except this time, there may not be any defenders in front of him.
*Prices correct at time of publication