Rugby World Cup dead rubbers: Fiji face Uruguay, Canada battle Romania
Coral writers preview two Rugby World Cup group games between four nations who have managed just a point between them so far, as Fiji face Uruguay and Canada clash with Romania in Pools A and D respectively.
However, despite not being able to qualify for the knockout stages anymore, they all still have plenty to play for, in order to show that they have a promising future in the sport.
Fiji v Uruguay
Pacific Islanders Fiji pushed England and Australia all the way and tested Wales to the limit of their endurance last Thursday in Cardiff, so it seems unfair they remain pointless alongside Uruguay (18/1 to cause a shock and win) in Pool A.
The Fijians would never have expected to qualify in this year’s Group of Death, but equally they would have hoped for one positive result in their testing three rather than enter this match in a bid to avoid the wooden spoon.
Last time out, Uruguay suffered the heaviest defeat of the tournament so far at the hands of a far superior Australian outfit, but with nine days rest they will have targeted this game as their only realistic opportunity of picking up a win. Despite a five-day turnaround, Fiji remain strong odds-on favourites at 1/66 in the first meeting since their only other encounter 16 years ago.
Since New Zealand 2011, Fiji have won eight from nine against minnows and, excluding their century of points over the Cook Islands, no victory has been by more than 25 points. They are an enticing 11/2 for an 11-20 winning margin.
Canada v Romania
With just one place separating these two in the world rankings, both will target this as a winnable match. For Canada, it is their last opportunity to sign off from the tournament with a victory after they were overpowered by France in a gutsy performance last Thursday.
For successive games, the North Americans have just a five-day turnaround. Romania (7/5 to win) fought valiantly against both Ireland and France but suffered heavy defeats in both fixtures. They’ve now not played for nine days so The Oaks have a prime opportunity to pick up just their third World Cup victory since 2003.
This is the third meeting between these two in as many years. Romania won 18-9 last time, and by a single point in 2013 (and are 3/1 to triumph by a margin of 1-10 once more), yet Canada remain slight 4/6 odds-on favourites.
Interestingly, all of Romania’s aggregate 39 points over the two games have come from the boot, and they are 13/8 to get a penalty in the first scoring play market. Their only other meeting this century also went the way of the Europeans back in 2005.
Canada have been on a truly terrible run recently that has included just two wins in 16 since the start of 2014 (in contrast Romania have won 12 out of 21 over the same period). Compare this to 9 in 15 from 2012/13 and it’s clear to see they’ve lost that winning feeling.
Coral’s top tip: Given Romania’s recent record over a Canadian side playing its third match in 10 days, back the Eastern Europeans to win by 1-10 points again @ 3/1