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New Zealand – Wales

New Zealand Wales rugby world cup betting preview

New Zealand and Wales will square off on Friday in the Rugby World Cup third place playoff, at the Ajinomoto Stadium in Chofu, Tokyo.

The All Blacks were shocked by England in the semifinals, despite having an excellent tournament up to that point. After a solid win against South Africa in the group stage and a blowout of Ireland in the quarterfinals, New Zealand was a heavy favorite to lift the trophy – but things did not go according to plan. England put on a masterclass performance in the semifinals and not only beat the All Blacks 19-7, but dominated them like few teams (if any) were able to do in modern rugby history. New Zealand was barely able to exit its own half with ball in hand, could not create anything, and quite honestly England could have won that game by 30.

Wales suffered a heartbreaking loss in the semis against South Africa. The Welsh put on a valiant effort and matched the Springboks point for point the entire game, but eventually a late penalty saw the South Africans emerge 19-16 winners. The disappointment was surely huge for the Wales, which played a solid tournament. But the Welsh have to admit that luck was on their part in the quarterfinal against France, when a French red card early in the second half allowed them to crawl over the finish line, 20-19, despite being second best that night (and in big trouble before the sending off).

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Team news & lineups:

Both teams will make changes to their lineups for this third place playoff, giving a chance to guys which played less in the KO round. New Zealand will have 8 new starters compared to the match against England, while Wales will make 9 changes to the lineup which lost against South Africa (some of them due to injury).

New Zealand: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody

Wales: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 James Davies, 6 Justin Tipuric, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Adam Beard, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Nicky Smith

Looking at the lineups, all these changes seem to heavily favor the All Blacks.

While New Zealand’s starting XV looks like it could be the first choice team at any time (some are saying this XV could have done better against England), the official lineup of Wales looks more like a makeshift one – they don`t have the depth of the All Blacks, in part because of all their injuries.

The Welsh were already missing some important pieces before this World Cup, suffered more key injuries during the tournament, and two more in the semifinals (key guys like North, Williams, Navidi or Francis have recently been ruled out). Basically half of their usual best lineup is injured, plus the other changes being made for this clash.

It looks quite unlikely for this shorthanded, banged up Welsh team to be able to challenge the All Blacks. This is also not a good matchup for them at all. Their kicking game might work against teams like South Africa (Wales abused the high ball in that clash), but against New Zealand it would only set the All Blacks up for their deadly counterattacks – particularly with Beauden Barrett at No. 15.

New Zealand has won the previous thirty (30!!) H2H meetings with Wales, which comes to confirm the statement about this being a bad matchup for the Europeans. Four of these meetings took place since the previous World Cup (last one in 2017), with New Zealand winning those by 18, 14, 40 and 15 points.

There`s the question of how much the All Blacks will want this, as for them anything else aside from the title is a massive failure, and the bronze medal might mean more for Wales.

But New Zealand is a side of the highest professional standard and it`s impossible to expect anything less than their best effort. Also, having fresh faces in the team will be good, as the guys who played less so far will be eager to impress; while Ben Smith, Sonny Bill Williams and Kieran Read are set to retire and will want to go out with a bang. The last time New Zealand was in a third place playoff was in 2003, when they murdered France 40-13.

I don`t think Wales can come into this match with such a weakened lineup and expect to challenge the All Blacks. A hurt New Zealand side, itching to bounce back, is a scary proposition for anybody, so I expect them to come out firing and win this by 20+ points.

My tip will be New Zealand to cover the 18.5 point handicap. The line is moving towards 19.5, so maybe take this one early. Prediction: New Zealand – Wales 41 – 10.

Pick: New Zealand -18,5
Odds: 1.91 @ Bwin
Stake: 9
Possible profit: 8.19
Event date: 1 November

About Rostick

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