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Mike Tindall in Man v Machine: Round Seven

22 Oct | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Mike Tindall in Man v Machine: Round Seven

The battle between the human instinct of a World Cup winner and the calculated logic of big data is getting ever closer...

Rugby is a numbers game, yet it is also a game that is played in the head – particularly when it comes to the excruciating pressure of the final stages of a World Cup.

Throughout the 2015 tournament we have been pitching the experience of former England centre and World Cup winner Mike Tindall against the mathematical calculations of data analytics in a bid to see which can best predict how each crucial match will pan out.

After being well beaten in the pool stages, Mike came storming back in Rounds Five and Six to cut the deficit to 4-2.

Having correctly tipped Nehe Milner Skudder to score in bigger win for New Zealand, predicted a win for Argentina over Ireland with Juan Imhoff touching down and foreseen Tommy Seymour scoring for Scotland in a losing cause, it would appear that the World Cup winner certainly has the edge when it comes to knock-out rugby.

But can he continue his hot streak during the semi-finals, or will The Machine reassert its dominance to create an unassailable lead?

Let’s find out.

Semi-final 1: South Africa v New Zealand (Saturday, 16:00)

The Machine says:

New Zealand have won 8 and lost 2 of their last 10 internationals against South Africa.

During those matches New Zealand have averaged 3.2 tries per game compared to South Africa’s 1.6.

New Zealand have also averaged exactly 26 points compared to South Africa’s 17.3, with an average winning margin of 8.7.

South Africa do however have a superior head-to-head record in Rugby World Cups, having beaten New Zealand in the 1995 final and the 1999 third-place play-off before losing in the 2003 quarter-final.

Despite that record, South Africa have averaged fewer tries (0.3) and fewer points (15.33) during those games than New Zealand, who have averaged 1 try and 17.3 points with a superior average margin of 4.33.

5/1 – New Zealand to win by 6-10
3/1 – New Zealand to score exactly 3 tries
rsa-nzlMike says:

I think that New Zealand are going to run out as comfortable winners in this game.

If South Africa are going to have a chance then they have to get on top of the All Blacks in the forwards, but that is a lot easier said than done.

As I discussed in my column, New Zealand are just as comfortable crashing the ball up the middle as they are spreading it out wide – and it is that ability to move the point of attack like no other team can that will give them the upper hand.

The previous meetings in Rugby World Cups between these two sides have been fairly tight affairs, but I think that this semi-final will be played in a style more like a Super 15 game.

I think New Zealand will score their usual three tries and can see Kieran Read getting one. Julian Savea will also get one because he always does!

South Africa will be aware of the threat that New Zealand possess out wide but there is not an awful lot they can do to stop it.

Gone are the days of doubling and tripling up on a man like we saw the Springboks do in the 1995 final – nowadays it is down to each man to defend their channel.

I can see South Africa scoring a try but no more than one, and still see Willie le Roux as their main threat.

The Boks have picked Handre Pollard at fly-half again and his kicking has to be better than it was against Wales if they are not to invite pressure onto themselves.

Overall I can see New Zealand coming out on top by between 12 and 15 points, so will go for a prediction of 30-17 to the All Blacks.

5/1 – New Zealand to win by 11-15
4/1 – Kieran Read to score at any time
13/10 – Julian Savea to score at any time
15/8 – South Africa to score exactly 1 try
9/2 – Willie le Roux to score at any time

South Africa v New Zealand match betting

READ: Mike Tindall: The gap between Hemispheres is marginal, but All Blacks are way out in front