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Japan – Samoa

Japan Samoa betting preview

Japan will meet Samoa on Saturday in what will be a crucial match in a wide open RWC 2019 Pool A. Some teams have more realistic chances to qualify than others, but Ireland, Japan, Scotland and Samoa all can finish between 1st and 4th.

Japan was nervous in the World Cup opener against Russia, claiming an underwhelming 30-10 win in a game in which they allowed poor Russia to stick around, particularly in the first half. But Japan dusted off the nerves of playing at home and pulled off one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history by beating Ireland 19-12 in their next match. It was a marvelous performance and showed the character and heart of this Japanese side, which managed to produce another shocking surprise after beating South Africa in the previous World Cup.

Samoa came into the tournament on the back of a disappointing 4th place finish in the Pacific Nations Cup (which was won by Japan). They started the World Cup with a good 34-9 victory over Russia, a result which put them in contention for the rest of this group, but had a stinker in the second game, losing 0-34 against Scotland. While nobody expected the Samoans to win the game, the scoreline and the fact that Samoa didn`t put a point on the board were both very disappointing for the Pacific side.

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Team news & lineups:

Both teams will field strong lineups. Japan will make only two changes to the team which defeated Ireland. Samoa, having only five days of rest, will make 6 changes to the team which was humbled by Scotland on Monday.

Japan: 15. Ryohei Yamanaka, 14. Kotaro Matsushima, 13. Timothy Lafaele, 12. Ryoto Nakamura, 11. Lomano Lemeki, 10. Yu Tamura, 9. Yutaka Nagare, 8. Kazuki Himeno, 7. Pieter Labuschagne (c), 6. Michael Leitch, 5. James Moore, 4. Wimpie van der Walt, 3. Jiwon Koo, 2. Atsushi Sakate, 1. Keita Inagaki

Samoa: 15. Tim Nanai-Williams, 14. Ah See Tuala, 13. Alapati Leiua, 12. Henry Taefu, 11. Ed Fidow, 10. Ulupano Seuteni, 9. Dwayne Polataivao, 8. Jack Lam (c), 7. TJ Ioane, 6. Chris Vui, 5. Kane Le’aupepe, 4. Piula Faasalel, 3. Michael Alaalatoa, 2. Seilala Lam, 1. Jordan Lay

Listen, Japan performed brilliantly in the win over Ireland last Saturday. This team has made big progress over the past few years, and the Japanese will fancy their chances to get a comfortable win. But they are still not, suddenly, a Tier 1 team, they`re still in that gap between Tier 1 and Tier 2. They are not world beaters in order to simply expect to roll over a side like Samoa.

Scotland was a 16,5 point favorite over Samoa on Monday. Japan is a 20,5 point favorite. That`s just not normal.

Japan might also be affected by hangover after that big victory over Ireland. There`s always the probability of a dip in performance after that kind of result, as we saw earlier in this RWC with Uruguay. In fact, we saw it with Japan itself back in the 2015 World Cup, when they were trashed 45-10 by Scotland after beating South Africa.

Samoa will also face the challenges of improving after the poor performance against Scotland, and most importantly recovering with such a short turnaround. The six changes in the lineup will help, but it still won`t be easy.

All in all, the 20,5 point handicap seems more than a bit extreme here. In the last two years Samoa’s only 20+ points loss came against Scotland earlier in this World Cup, and in this timespan they met teams like Fiji (twice) or Australia – against which they covered this spread.

Japan did win the most recent meeting by 21 points, at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Weather will be fine for rugby, as it will be the case in most of Japan on Saturday (the Toyota Stadium has a roof anyway if it would have been needed). This will favor Japan’s running game.

The Brave Blossoms are a better team than Samoa, but the difference is not a monumental one. Samoa will look to play a physical game and capitalize on Japan’s potential hangover after the Ireland win, and this point spread definitely seems too large. My tip will be Samoa to cover the 20,5 point handicap and there`s no way I will regret this bet no matter if it wins or loses. It`s a perfectly logical choice. Prediction: Japan – Samoa 32 – 18.

Pick: Samoa +20,5
Odds: 1.95 @ Unibet
Stake: 10
Possible profit: 9.5
Event date: 5 October

About Rostick

Former bookie & water polo player. Rugby Union expert. - EDITOR INFO & STATS
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