Keep these five talking points and tips in mind when betting on the Rugby World Cup knockout stages, which start with the quarter-finals this weekend.
Don’t write off Japan
Twice I dared to tip against the hosts, and twice they proved me wrong.
The Brave Blossoms have been the story of their home tournament, reaching their first ever World Cup quarter-final by finishing top of Pool A ahead of two Tier 1 nations in Ireland and Scotland.
Their fluid attacking play and relentless defence, aided by an incredible home support, put Japan firmly in dark-horse territory at to win the whole thing.
They face South Africa next – who are second-favourites for the title at to beat them in Tokyo on Sunday – just like they did in 2015.
Wingers eat first
Wingers crossed the whitewash first 12 times in the pool stages, which equates to once every three games.
Of those 12 tries, nine of them came in matches involving a quarter-finalist, so it’s worth backing wingers to score first when the knockout rounds start this weekend.
If you do, then our first tryscorer offer means you will double your winnings if that player scores again in the same match.
We paid out on this offer eight times during the group stages, with wingers accounting for four of those pay-outs.
Hookers on fire
If you’re looking for some slightly longer odds when it comes to a tryscorer, then focus on the front row.
Hookers have been a constant attacking threat throughout the tournament, scoring 22 tries across the pool stages.
Argentina’s Julian Montoya led the way with four, while England’s Luke Cowan-Dickie and South Africa’s Bongi Mbonambi both scored three.
As the generals of the pack who often get their hands on the ball at set pieces, hookers could prove a savvy selection as we move into the cagier knockout games.
It’s try time
This year saw at least two tries scored in every completed pool game, something which has not happened since the 1999 World Cup.
And, despite three matches being cancelled thanks to Typhoon Hagibis, more tries have been scored at this stage than in the last two tournaments.
Ireland are the only obviously conservative side in the quarter-finals, and they face free-flowing New Zealand this weekend.
So it should definitely pay to focus on the overs when it comes to total tries scored in the knockouts.
Kickers taking backseat
Interestingly, however, the amount of points scored at this stage of the tournament is down on the previous three World Cups.
That, in the most part, is down to the fact that just 71 penalties have been successfully turned into three points across 37 matches.
That’s fewer than two per match, compared to 3.5 per game in 2015 and 4.6 in 2011.
Whether that’s because gameplans are more focused on trying to score tries or windy conditions making kicks more difficult to convert, keep an eye on the unders when it comes to total points.
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