Rugby World Cup Pool B: Scots in Springbok showdown, Samoa play Japan
Scotland are sitting pretty at the top of Rugby World Cup Pool B, but have never beaten heavyweights South Africa outside their native land.
That stat explains why Vern Cotter’s crew are 7/2 to top the group, and the Springboks firm odds-on 1/6 favourites despite their giant-killing by Japan, who also play Samoa (15/8 to advance from the pool) on Saturday.
South Africa v Scotland
Punters also see South Africa start as 1/6 for victory at St James’ Park, which as close as the Scots can be to home soil during this tournament. Newcastle will be overrun with southern invaders, and not for the first time either.
At 5/1 to spring a shock on the Springboks, Scotland have made 10 changes to their XV following a scare but eventually comfortable victory against the USA. Finn Russell is a huge miss for Cotter at fly half, but captain Greig Laidlaw comes back in after being used from the bench last time out following profligate kicking.
Duncan Weir is in for Russell, but a big price at 40/1 to repeat scoring the last try. Henry Pyrgos is dropped completely by Cotter, who hand starts to back row Blair Cowan, prop Gordon Reid and centre Richie Vernon.
Full back Stuart Hogg is now the only ever-present in Scottish ranks, and 4/1 to get a try anytime. Winger Tim Visser crossed last time out against the USA, however, so he features in an enhanced matchday special at 7/2 to do so again (max stake £20).
South African-born duo WP Nel and Josh Strauss may be able to give Scotland some insight into the Springbok mentality, with Cotter’s opposite number Heyneke Meyer making just three changes to his XV but also altering line-out calls.
Jean de Villiers’ injury allows 11/5 anytime tryscorer chance Jesse Kriel to come in at outside centre, while Adriaan Strauss drops out meaning starts for Lood de Jager and Bismarck du Plessis.
Rampant Springboks winger JP Pietersen is the real danger, though, after his hat-trick against Samoa, and he holds an 11/8 price to cross again or 7/1 to go over first once more.
Samoa v Japan
In this battle between Pacific Island nations, it’s Samoa who boast the stronger head-to-head history with 11 wins out of 14. That explains why they are odds-on 1/3 favourites for victory and the Brave Blossoms 11/4 outsiders.
Japan losing Amanaki Mafi is big blow to their hopes, while Samoa have the perfect opportunity to respond to a 40-point defeat to South Africa. The burden will thus fall heavier upon kicker and other key player Ayumu Goromaru, 3/1 for a second try of the tournament in this game.
Samoan threat Tim Nanai-Williams is 11/8 in the anytime market, and 10/1 to go over first, so will be keen to impress after drawing a blank in the Springboks loss. With the handicap market set at eight points, backing Samoa to edge Japan by a margin of victory in the 6-10 bracket appeals at 9/2.
Coral’s top tip: Pietersen is a man in scorching form for South Africa, so take 11/8 on him getting a try against Scotland.