Club The Bookies – Australia v New Zealand

MyClubBetting.com experts offer their best bets throughout the Rugby League World Cup. Here’s our view on the 2013 Rugby League World Cup final between Australia and New Zealand…

If only it was always this easy to predict. It is rare that the biggest of tournaments follow the course that is set. That is exactly what we have for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup final at Old Trafford: Australia 1/3 pre-tournament favourites, square off against 11/5 second favourites New Zealand.

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The odds have hardly fluctuated since the spectacular Opening Ceremony in Cardiff on October 26.

The Kangaroos are 3/10 to beat the 11/4 Kiwis, with the draw at 25/1.

Australia are considered 8-point favourites. For betting novices, you can back them at 10/11 and if they win by more than eight points, you will collect (e.g. bet £11 at odds of 10/11 and your return will be £21 in total if your bet wins).

Australia have cruised through this tournament and have covered the handicap set by bookmakers in two of their five games. In contrast, New Zealand have only covered the handicap once in their five matches.

If following that trend, we should be looking at backing New Zealand at 10/11 with an 8-point start (or +8).

The Kiwis might have lost every one-off fixture against Australia since 1998 but they have developed the irritating habit of tripping up their Anzac rivals on the big stage – the 2008 World Cup final and the 2010 Four Nations being the two stand-out examples.

The whole 24-man squad plays in the NRL and six of them – Kieran Foran, Sam Moa, Frank-Paul Nu’uausala, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Sonny Bill Williams – played in the recent NRL Grand Final.

The Kangaroos have won nine of the previous 14 World Cups and they want their trophy back having relinquished it to New Zealand five years ago, following a 34-20 defeat in the final.

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New Zealand did not face much of a test until coming up against England in the semi-final. Their defensive flaws were evident and they needed a last-kick conversion by Shaun Johnson to steal a 20-18 victory.

Australia, similarly, did not play as well as anticipated in their tournament opener against England, but the notoriously slow starters still went on to win 28-20. England gave everything in the semi-final and the Kiwis took their lumps, while Australia cruised past an over-matched Fiji.

The health of these two teams is going to play a part and we see Australia grinding down the holders late on to cover the handicap in a relatively low-scoring encounter.

The bookmakers are estimating there will be around 40 total points scored and the line is set at 40.5. Points have not been a problem for the Kangaroos, who have averaged 47.6 per game in this tournament, so the line set looks a little conservative, despite the fact that they have allowed just two points in four games since facing England. So we’ll keep our fingers crossed that New Zealand will be able to keep within sight and take the Over 40.5 total points in the match at 10/11.

Will the intensity and physicality of the Kiwis’ semi-final clash leave them drained emotionally flat? Or will Australia struggle with complacency against a side that feeds off momentum like no other?

Australia have a clear advantage at the full-back position with Billy Slater, and in the three-quarters: Greg Inglis and Jarryd Hayne trump Kiwis’ Bryson Goodwin and Dean Whare in terms of class. Hayne may be inexperienced, but he is a lethal force in attack and has pace to burn, and Inglis is the complete package. If Australia can give them room, that duo will unlock the Kiwis’ defence.

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We don’t believe it will come down to goal-kicking. But if it does, Shaun Johnson managed to put behind him a bad day against the USA (landing just 7 of 12 kicks) by nailing a pressure kick in the semi- to beat England. Yet we’d still take Australia’s Jonathan Thurston over Johnson. He booted 11 of 12 kicks against Fiji at Wembley and has a very good NRL career average (79.35%), although the pair have an identical 74.3% success rate in this World Cup.

Who will have the best kicking percentage in the match? There is a market for that. It is 5/6 for Thurston and 5/6 for Johnson. We’ll go with Johnson, who may not have as many kicking opportunities and therefore fewer chances for error. He’s also 6/4 that he makes every placed kick at goal.

There are a wealth of markets on the game and if you like better odds, try the Line and Points Total Double. Australia -6.5 points and Over 41.5 points is available at 2/1.

We believe the score will be in the region of 26-14 to Australia, so we’ll back the Kangaroos to win between 1-12 points at 13/8.”

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Club the Bookies! – Australia v Fiji – The Big Hit

MyClubBetting.com experts offer their best sports bets throughout Rugby League World Cup 2013. Here’s the view on the final semi-final clash between England and New Zealand. 

While England’s clash with New Zealand could well go either way, the bookmakers barely give Fiji a chance for their World Cup semi-final against Australia at Wembley on Saturday.

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Australia are 38-point favourites, or in simpler terms, 1/500 shots – wager £500 to win £1. It isn’t a particularly inviting bet, is it?

There’s no question that Fiji, 40/1 to do the unthinkable and beat the tournament favourites, will be up against it.

The Bati were also underdogs against Samoa in the quarter-final but came out on top 22-4 after a bruising encounter.

Australia and Fiji also met in the group stage, with the Kangaroos running out 34-2 victors, but only after Fiji caused some early problems. They were very structured and adamant about where they were going to dictate play. They also scored the first points.

Fiji also scored the first points against England and led the host nation 6-0 until just before halftime.

Of course, it could be a Fijian who scored the first try – although he will be wearing an Australian shirt. Jarryd Hayne only agreed to turn his back on Fiji and play for the Kangaroos after being given assurances that he would be given the chance to force his way into the starting lineup.

Hayne, who plays in the NRL for Parramatta, turned out for Fiji in the 2008 World Cup, and his former teammates will need no reminding of his ability – he scored four tries against the USA in the quarter-final.

Hayne is 6/1 to score the first try against Fiji and 1/3 to score at any time, while Fiji are considered 9/2 to score first in the match (Australia are 1/8 to get the first points).

Australia’s clash with the USA was a complete mismatch and the only negative for them was an injury to Billy Slater, the full-back aggravating a knee injury.

However, his replacement, Greg Inglis, is a classy, powerful runner – and the Kangaroos will be able to fight fire with fire against Fiji.

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In truth, aside from their opening 28-20 victory over England in Cardiff, the Kangaroos have not been really tested and they are worthy 1/3 shots to win the World Cup. For Tim Sheens’ side, it will be about their ability to raise their game against Fiji.

The fact they have only once managed to cover a handicap in four games thus far should raise warning signals for backers who expect them to cover the 38-point spread.

So where are the best betting opportunities in this clash?

Inglis has the power to hurt Fiji and he is an interesting proposition to score the first try at 11/2, although much of the betting action in this particular market will be focussed on Brett Morris, who scored four tries against the USA and also provided an assist. Morris is the favourite at 9/2 to score first and is only 11/10 to score two tries.

Inglis can be backed at 13/10 to score more tries than Hayne (13/8) in the match, with a tie at 9/2. That looks a fair bet to us.

Given the likely weather conditions – the forecast is for temperatures to dip below 4C and with a northerly wind it will feel colder – don’t bank on a lot of early try-scoring opportunities. We favour the conservative route, believing there will be under 4.5 tries scored in the first half, available at odds of 8/11.

It may also be worth a look at the time of the first try. It could be a cagey opening few minutes, so we’ll take the 4/6 that the first try will come after six minutes.

MyClubBetting.com offer a full range of markets on the clash. If you sign up with MyClubBetting.com and bet £10 on any sport, you will immediately receive a £20 free bet. If you open an account during the World Cup but lose on any future bets made via your MyClubBetting.com account, 20% of any net losses go to the Rugby Football League, thus benefitting grass roots rugby.

For more details on the service and for some great Rugby League World Cup competitions, follow MyClubBetting on Twitter: @MyClubBetting or Facebook: Facebook.com/myclubbetting

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Club The Bookies – England v New Zealand – The Big Hit

MyClubBetting.com experts offer their best sports bets throughout the Rugby League World Cup. Here’s the view on the final semi-final clash between England and New Zealand…

There was never likely to be much change to the betting lines once the four semi-finalists in this enthralling World Cup were known. There has been a fairly even amount of money on each side of the handicap in each semi.

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Last Sunday, World Champion New Zealand opened up as six-point favourites to beat England and this line has remained static 48 hours before their clash in the first of Wembley’s ‘Big Hit’ double header.

However, Steve McNamara shuffled his pack on Thursday, with Gareth Widdop replacing Rangi Chase. Widdop has featured for just 54 minutes of the World Cup so far and the Halifax-born playmaker replaces ever-present Chase.

Chase and Kevin Sinfield have been England’s halves throughout the competition and it remains to be seen whether Widdop is given the nod or if Rob Burrow fills in at number six.

McNamara also recalled Carl Ablett to the 19-man squad after missing last Saturday’s 34-6 success over France. He takes hooker Michael McIllorum’s place in the squad.

This means James St Helens’ hooker James Roby is set to start against New Zealand and Paddy Power believes there will be a patriotic plunge after the changes.

He said: “Many experts felt that Widdop should have been playing earlier and whether that is the case or not, we expect to see a bit more money for England. While a World Cup victory for the co-hosts would not be a great result for us, it would be fantastic in the long term for the sport as a whole, so we’re right behind England.

“There does not appear to be much between the champions and England, although we are probably right in thinking they are the underdogs. But you never know. Wembley is a special place, there may well be a near-capacity crowd and that could play a major factor in the outcome.”

While New Zealand are on offer at 4/9 to win the clash, England can be backed at 15/8 to cause the upset and win outright.

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MyClubBetting.com, Official  Betting and Gaming Partner of the Rugby League World Cup, believe those odds to be on the large side.

Their resident expert added: “It does represent something of an about-turn by McNamara, who has kept faith with Chase for a couple of years. Our view is that England look a little more balanced now that Melbourne stand-off Widdop, has been recalled after being on the bench for the opening two group games.

“While it may concern some that they did not play well against France, England have raised their game against better opposition and were it not for losing concentration in the opener against Australia, England may well have been playing Fiji in what looks a much easier path to the final.

“We have every faith that England can upset the odds and see them winning by 1-12 points, which is on offer at 10/3. To do that, they will have to impose themselves in the first period and they are 10/11 to be leading by five points or more at the break on the handicap.

“Backing England to be leading at half-time and at full-time at 10/3 is, therefore, a viable option.

“One of the big danger men for England is the speedy Roosters winger Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who has quickly become one of the stars of the tournament. The 20-year-old Kiwi scored twice against Scotland in a 40-4 rout, his mesmeric jinking ability earning him the man-of-the- match award.

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“He is 17/2 to score the first try of the match but is a fair bet at 8/11 to score at any time, as his pace will be tough to defend. He is only 4/1 to repeat his feat of notching two tries in the match and has six in total through the tournament.

“Sam Tomkins has had a relatively lean time of it in terms of scoring – he is yet to get off the mark – but the Wigan Warriors’ full-back leads England in assists with seven and is still averaging over a try a game for his country. The feeling form MyClubBetting.com is that he is due to go over and 6/5 to score at any time seems a very decent bet to us.

“If you are looking at a weak link, New Zealand’s kicking game has not been consistent. Shaun Johnson may top the goal-kicking charts with 25 in this World Cup, but he has also missed nine, so taking him at 7/4 to successfully convert all of his placed kicks at goal seems a short price.

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“We also like England captain Sinfield to have the best kicking percentage of the pair at 8/11.”

MyClubBetting.com offer a full range of markets on the clash. If you sign up with MyClubBetting.com and bet £10 on any sport, you will immediately receive a £20 free bet. If you open an account during the World Cup but lose on any future bets made via your MyClubBetting.com account, 20% of any net losses go to the Rugby Football League, thus benefitting grass roots rugby.

For more details on the service and for some great Rugby League World Cup competitions, follow MyClubBetting on Twitter: @MyClubBetting or Facebook: Facebook.com/myclubbetting

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Club The Bookies – The Big Hit early lines

MyClubBetting.com experts offer their best sports bets throughout the Rugby League World Cup. Here’s a look back at the weekend and a look ahead to the semi-finals…

What did we learn from the Rugby League World Cup quarter-final matches? Australia really do look head and shoulders above the opposition, and their tournament-opening 28-20 victory over England proved as pivotal as everyone thought it would.

It essentially gave them a bye to the final at Old Trafford on November 30.

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Fiji, who got the better of a brutally physical battle with Samoa on Sunday, will doubtless disagree. The opening lines for Saturday’s ‘Big Hit’ semi-final see Fiji as 36-point underdogs to beat the Kangaroos – that’s as good as a bye.

While they upset the odds to beat Samoa in a closer-than-it-looked 22-4 affair at Warrington, Fiji are considered 30/1 to beat Australia. The Kangaroos are 1/200 to reach the final. For those not au fait with betting, that means you have to put £200 on to win £1.

Little has changed in the outright World Cup market since the start of the tournament. Australia are 1/3 to win the World Cup, with New Zealand at 7/2 and England are 8/1. Following their defeat of Samoa, Fiji have shortened from 125/1 to 66/1.

Fiji’s supposed weakness, their edge defence, was something of a strength against Samoa. Yet their Australia have already secured a 34-2 verdict over their South Pacific neighbours at Langtree Park, St Helens, when running in six tries in their Group A clash on November 2 – a game played in monsoon-like conditions.

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Australia also missed several opportunities in that encounter and you have to wonder if the Bati’s battering by Samoa will take its toll when the pair clash in London.

The Kangaroos have yet to be tested since meeting England in Cardiff and while they failed to cover a handicap in the group stages, they finally rewarded their followers by chalking up a 62-0 victory (as 54-point favourites).

Despite some unwanted off-the-field negative publicity, they ran in eight tries in the first half against the part-timers and they know what to expect against Fiji.

New Zealand are 4/9 to beat England in the first semi-final (kick-off 1.00pm). Steve McNamara’s side have opened up as the 17/10 underdog, with the draw on offer at 22/1.

Layers are expecting a tight game with the Kiwis on offer at 2/1 to win between 1-12 points. It is 13/8 that they win by 13 points or more.

New Zealand will have the benefit of an extra rest day, having comfortably dispatched Scotland 40-4 last Friday and running in eight tries. New Zealand have scored 186 points at the Rugby League World Cup and conceded 38. It appears the world champions have no weaknesses.

But the worry for coach Stephen Kearney must be that they have yet to be tested and their easy run to the semi-final. They have not been fully tested.

McNamara was none too satisfied with England’s final group game, a less-than-convincing 34-6 victory over a plucky France, calling it “scratchy” and warning his side would have to improve “a lot” before meeting New Zealand.

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Worryingly, France managed to prise open the England rearguard on several occasions but lacked the finesse to finish.

They may well play with a little more fear and passion than they showed against France, and if they can somehow control New Zealand’s forward pack, they could upset the form book and get a second crack at Australia.

England are 3/1 to win between 1-12 points and it is 6/1 to that McNamara’s side win by 13 or more.

MyClubBetting.com will offer a full betting preview on both games later in the week and also offer a full range of markets. If you sign up with MyClubBetting.com and bet £10 on any sport, you will immediately receive a £20 free bet. If you open an account during the World Cup but lose on any future bets made via your MyClubBetting.com account, 20% of any net losses go to the Rugby Football League, thus benefitting grass roots rugby.

For more details on the service and for more great Rugby League World Cup competitions, follow MyClubBetting on Twitter: @MyClubBetting or Facebook: Facebook.com/myclubbetting

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Club The Bookies – Samoa v Fiji

MyClubBetting.com experts offer their best bets throughout the Rugby League World Cup. Here’s the view on the final quarter-final clash between Samoa and Fiji…

Undoubtedly, this is the most fascinating of the four quarter-finals. There is not much to choose between these two Pacific powerhouses and only one thing will be guaranteed: there will be a lot of war wounds after the clash.

These two represent arguably the most physical sides in the tournament, as both England and France found to their cost in the final pool games.

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England blew out the Fijians, while France wilted under a punishing Samoan side in a feisty affair in Perpignan.

Samoa are looking for a third win in succession. Having been competitive in a 42-24 loss to New Zealand to open the tournament, they blitzed Papua New Guinea (38-4) and France (22-6), with their potent forwards and backs leading the way.

Fiji beat Ireland 32-14 but were dispatched by both Australia (24-2) and England (34-12). Arguably, their route to the quarter-finals has been tougher, yet their one big weakness, their edge defence, could be their undoing. Their weakest position is in the halves and Samoa have the guile and power to exploit this and maximise their opportunities.

Samoa are considered 8/11 favourites with the bookmakers. Fiji are 11/10, with the draw available at 20/1. The winner will meet Australia in the semi-final at Wembley next Saturday (Nov. 23).

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Interestingly, and perhaps significantly, the handicap line has seen a move for Fiji over the last few days. It opened with Samoa as 6-point favourites and as of 24 hours prior to kick-off, Samoa were sitting as mere 2-point favourites.

Backing Samoa to cover the nominal handicap offers odds of 10/11.

Petero Civoniceva leads the Fijians, who boast a big forward pack which features Jayson Bukuya. They will be a real handful for an improving but far from impregnable Samoan defence.

After two successive defeats to two of the three heavyweights, Fiji coach Rick Stone will have to not only raise his side’s morale, but also do without prop Korbin Sims, who was found guilty of a spear tackle on England’s James Graham.

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One of the big keys in this game is how effective Samoa will be in shackling Fiji fullback Kevin Naiqama. He has the ability to break tackles and we should expect plenty of fifth tackle pressure on Samoa’s halfback Ben Roberts, who takes most of the general play kicking responsibilities.

Can Fiji handle the Samoa aggression and fight fire with fire? Coach Matt Parish will likely employ a similar gameplan as he did when battering France into submission and halves Aaron Groom and Alipate Noilea will have to be on their game if Fiji are to cause a mild upset.

Samoa centre Joey Leilua is another pivotal figure. Stopping him should be Fiji’s top priority. He has the ability to shed tacklers with alarming regularity.

As a betting medium, this game is a very close one to call. Most pundits feel Samoa will come through this test but we believe that if Sisa Waqa and Was Naiqama can stifle and frustrate Tim Lafai and Leilua, and get the bounce of the ball, Fiji (below) may be good value to win outright.

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Samoa have more experience in the halves but Roberts will not have seen anything like the pressure he will be under in games against PNG and France.

So we’ll side with the underdog in this one, and may even back Fiji to come from behind at half-time to win at odds of 7/1.

We might also consider playing them at 5/1 to win by between 6 and 10 points.

Samoa will start strong and having a bet on the first tryscorer is always a minefield. However, we’ll have a stab at Samoa’s Antonio Winterstein (10/1) or Tim Lafai (14/1), with Kevin Naiqama to score at any time for Fiji at 11/10.

Either way, it should be a cracking game and there shouldn’t be too much in it. Everything will be left on the field, and that is only to the benefit of Australia, who are also licking their wounds at present, with a couple of major injuries to contend with.

MyClubBetting.com offer a full range of markets on this game and the other quarter-final ties. If you sign up at MyClubBetting.com and bet £10 on any sport, you will immediately receive a £20 free bet. And should you lose on any future bets made via your MyClubBetting.com account, 20% of any net losses go to the Rugby Football League, thus benefitting grass roots rugby.

For more details on the service and for more great Rugby League World Cup competitions, follow MyClubBetting on Twitter: @MyClubBetting or Facebook: Facebook.com/myclubbetting

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Club The Bookies – England vs. France

MyClubBetting.com experts offer their best sports bets throughout the Rugby League World Cup. Here’s the view on the big quarter-final clash between England and France…

Victory in one group game, by a single point. That was enough to get France through to Saturday’s Rugby League World Cup quarter-final tie with England at Wigan.

The 9-8 defeat of Papua New Guinea on Oct. 27 must seem like a distant memory for Les Chanticleers, who have since had their comeuppance at the hands of New Zealand (48-0) and Samoa (22-6).

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Admittedly they came through a tough group in 2013. Yet the fact remains, they are averaging a mere five points per game in this tournament.

France reached the 1954 and 1968 World Cup finals, and played a brand of Rugby League that is still revered to this day.

More recent history favours England, whose only defeat came in the group opener, where they out-played Australia for long periods before falling 28-20. Since then, England have dispatched Ireland 48-0 and Fiji 34-12 – looking an improved side at each stage and in almost every facet of play.

Naturally enough, England are hot favourites at 1/200 to beat France, who are offered at 40/1 to pull off the upset. The draw is available at 150/1.

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England have the strongest possible squad to take on France, having recalled Josh Charnley, the leading try-scorer in the 2013 Super League, who replaces Tom Briscoe.

England beat France 48-4 in the nations’ last meeting in November 2012 and England are considered 38-point favourites this time.

If you believe they can win by 39 points or more, back them at 10/11 via MyClubBetting.com. If you bet £10, you’ll receive a £20 free bet.

England’s last defeat came at the hands of Italy, a stunning 15-14 upset in the build-up to the World Cup. It serves as a reminder that any complacency can be punished.

Fueled by that embarrassment, England’s ‘White Wall’ rearguard have proved all but impregnable since and will fancy their chances of not only beating France, but also of downing world champion New Zealand in next week’s semi-final, should the Kiwis overcome Scotland.

England hold all the aces, with halves Kevin Sinfield and Rangi Chase as good an any pairing in the tournament, and prop Sam Burgess one of the strongest at the position.

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But England will be tested by pacy France youngster Morgan Escare (above), who is a dangerous broken-field runner. The 22-year-old was shortlisted for the young player of the year award after a breakthrough season in the Super League for Catalan Dragons and his form, which has carried over to the World Cup, has lifted an otherwise disappointing France team.

France will try to dominate through their forwards, a unit heavily stocked with Catalan players, who know each other well. But the key to an England success is keeping the Escare shackled.

It may be a bigger struggle to break down France than the bookies predict, so backing England to score less than 8.5 tries at 8/11 looks a very viable betting proposition. Despite the overwhelming evidence to suggest a rout, France should be able to score at some stage and backing them to notch 6.5 points or more is on offer at 4/6.

We also like Kallum Watkins or Leroy Cudjoe (below) to score at any time, at respective odds of 4/7 and 8/11.

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MyClubBetting.com offer a full range of markets on this game and the other quarter-final ties. If you sign up at MyClubBetting.com and bet £10 on any sport, you will immediately receive a £20 free bet. And should you lose on any future bets made via your MyClubBetting.com account, 20% of any net losses go to the Rugby Football League, thus benefiting grass roots rugby.

And for added incentive (if any were needed) there’s a great Money-Back Special  bet: If the last conversion is missed in the England v France game, we’ll refund losing tryscorer bets on the match!

For more details on the service and for more great Rugby League World Cup competitions, follow MyClubBetting on Twitter: @MyClubBetting or Facebook: Facebook.com/myclubbetting

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Club the bookies – Australia vs. USA

MyClubBetting.com experts offer their best sports bets throughout the Rugby League World Cup. Here’s the view on the big quarter-final clash between Australia and USA…

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Australia have failed to cover the handicap set by bookmakers in each of their three Rugby League World Cup pool matches.

On Saturday, they take on USA, the fairytale team of this competition, as 54-point favourites.

Stars and Stripes bobble hats in Salford. Fans belting out chants of “USA… USA… USA”. It is one of the more memorable scenes we can take away from this gripping tournament.

Players like hard-running, hard-tackling centre Loto Tagaloa could not be further from their comfort zone. Tagaloa has played just three internationals for the Tomahawks but has the potential to be one of the stars of the show, and already several NRL teams have had their interest sparked.

Tagaloa (below), born in Samoa, moved to Hawaii on 2010 to go to university, at Brigham Young’s campus on Oahu, located next to the Polynesian Cultural Centre (en route the island’s famous North Shore). He works at the Centre as part of his course programme.

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“Part of my job is to teach people about my culture in Samoa, particularly the role of men,” said softly spoken Tagaloa. “For example, doing the cooking – in Samoa, men do the cooking – climbing coconut trees, farming, hunting, fishing. They do a lot of things.

“People from all over the world come over, and they love learning about it.”

He has already played for Samoa’s rugby league team, but after moving to Hawai’i he started playing for a local rugby union club. Before long, Tagaloa was back in the 13-man code – turning out for the Tomahawks after they found themselves short of players for an international against Tonga in Hawai’i in early 2012.

“I thought, ‘Sweet, I’ll play’,” he recalled after being approached by the US team. “I went and played well and ever since then, they’ve liked me.”

“I have always wanted to play the big guys, those who have been playing rugby for years,” Tagaloa said. “I like being the underdog. I want to hit the big guys and be better than them. They don’t scare at all. It just makes me want to go harder at it.”

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The 26-year-old Tagaloa, who plays for Hawai’i in the American National Rugby League, is one of eight US-based Tomahawks, only three of whom are full-time professionals.

Rugby League in the US did not exist until the 1980s. And this USA team is a new one, too. It was researched and recruited from the office of a law firm by Steve Johnson, an Aussie, who was brought in to help once the Tomahawks had qualified for the World Cup.

One player he found working on the railroads in New South Wales, Australia, another was working as a gas fitter. Another was running a tyre business. And Tagaloa was showing visitors how to climb trees to gather coconuts.

The first time they came together was at Sydney airport on October 15, exactly one month ago. Only 10 days before that, the coach dropped out and Terry Matterson, formerly of Castleford Tigers, was recruited.

None of the players receive any recompense for playing in the World Cup. Even the Italians receive £200 per week. It is an expensive hobby, but they will be able to fly home and get back to work after Saturday’s encounter.

The rag-tag team, whose motto is ‘Shock The World’, will leave with their heads held high. They have lit up this tournament.

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Understandably, despite beating the Cook Islands and co-hosts Wales, their 28-8 capitulation against Scotland – having led 8-0 – means they are considered 54-point underdogs when they face the 1/3 tournament favourites Australia at Glyndwr University Racecourse Ground, Wrexham, on Saturday.

It is 66/1 to that the US cause what would be one of the biggest sporting upsets of all time.

Australia are 1/950 to win the match, with the draw on offer at 150/1.

It is tough to find a viable betting opportunity, outside of taking the 10/11 Australia to cover the 54-point handicap (this means they have to beat the US by 55 points or more for the bet to be deemed a winner).

Backing Australia to win by 60.5 points or more is a huge ask, but the odds are a little more rewarding at 6/4. The odds are 11/2 that the US score first (it’s 1/12 that Australia get on the board first) but perhaps a consolation score at the end might be interesting for US fans – it’s 5/1 that they arr the last team to score points in the match.

Can Australia win to Nil? The odds are only 11/8. You see what the US is up against?

Climbing trees to gather coconuts might be an easier task. Odds-on Loto Tagaloa wouldn’t disagree with that.

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