Well after 5 weeks off intense competition we have finally reached the games showpiece occasion as at 9 o’clock tomorrow morning England take on clear favourites Australia in the Rugby League World Cup Final.
These 2 played the opening game back in October, with the Aussies running out 18-4 winners in a scoreline that flattered them somewhat with England being on top for large parts of the 2nd half.
The bookies can only see one winner with the Green and Gold as low as 1/12 favourites to win this in 80 minutes, with England around 6/1. Mind you any England backers would be probably be wider to take slightly less odds on them lifting the trophy which would include extra time.
Wayne Bennett’s side get an 18 point start on the handicap which does seem generous given they haven’t really done much wrong so far, with probably the best pack in the tournament and one of the world cups star performers Jermaine Mcgilvary.
The lions had comfortable group wins over Lebanon , who went on to give Tonga a real scare in the 1/4 final, and France before impressively dispatching PNG in the quarters.
It really depends how you read last week’s game against Tonga as for 70 minutes England played aswell as they have for years against a very strong Tonga, in an atmosphere which was like an away game. But for the last 10 minutes they nearly self destructed, with Tonga coming so close to a sensational comeback win.
Personally I’d concentrate on the 1st 70 minutes but this is a whole new test.
Australia were finding their feet in the group stage but have gone up a few gears since the knock out stages have started, putting 46 points on Samoa and over 50 points on Fiji.
It’s worth remembering that Fiji had beaten New Zealand the week before, admittedly though that win could have taken a lot out of them. You do though think that there is not much between the likes of the Kiwis, England and Fiji with the Aussies on another level.
Australia were ruthless in putting New Zealand to the sword in the 2013 final and won’t want a repeat of their last World Cup Final on home soil, where they lost to the Kiwis, so won’t be complacent here so you have to think they can maybe win this by around 21-25 points.
I wouldn’t say there was much between England and a Fiji side who they hammered last week.
England will also miss their captain OLoughlin but are well covered with Currie coming into the 2nd row and Burgess at loose.
I expect Australia to try and win this in the opening half hour, as they did in 2013, but England’s star performer Mcgilvary is good value for the 1st try at around 16/1. Valentine Holmes heads the market at 5/1 with Gagai at 7/1.
Billy Slater at 9/1 would probably be my shout at 9/1 in Green and Gold.
I haven’t seen any man of the match betting but I’d look to the 2 captains Burgess and Cameron Smith if any become available.
We’ll see you in February when Super League returns , as always please gamble responsibly .