With the pool stages complete, the serious business gets underway this weekend as England vs Australia kicks off the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals on Saturday morning.
Can England, Wales and Ireland all advance to the semi-finals?
Read our Rugby World Cup predictions and betting tips below…
Rugby World Cup Predictions – Quarter Finals Preview – England vs Australia & more…
ENGLAND VS AUSTRALIA
England will have the psychological edge on Australia heading into this quarter-final, winning all six of their last encounters. Can Eddie Jones continue his impressive head-to-head record against Michael Cheika?
Jones has made a big call not starting the in-form George Ford, with Owen Farrell coming into his place at fly-half. The reshuffle also means Henry Slade will slot in at outside centre alongside Manu Tuilagi.
This move suggests Eddie Jones’ intentions are for England to get on the front foot and try and get an early lead, with George Ford waiting in the wings to play the territory game and bring England home.
However, Australia proved against Wales that they won’t go down without a fight in the pool stage, narrowly losing 25-29. That could mean England need to play a professional, patient waiting game to secure the win.
NEW ZEALAND VS IRELAND
New Zealand haven’t lost a World Cup game since 2007. On current form, it’s hard to see that changing on Saturday.
Ireland’s humiliating loss to Japan in the pool stages stands in stark contrast to New Zealand’s early form in this competition. The All Blacks have already beaten the second favourites in the competition, South Africa, with a clinical 23-13 which suggests they’ll need a serious off-day for any side to unseat them.
New Zealand have all the talent in the world and potentially more with Sonny Bill Williams not even making the starting 15.
That strength in depth should see New Zealand run out comfortable winners and justify their billing as strong favourites in the Rugby World Cup betting stakes to once again lift the Webb Ellis Cup.
WALES VS FRANCE
France’s Jekyll and Hyde performances make them one of the hardest teams to predict on the world stage. Judging where they currently stand has been made even harder by the fact we haven’t seen them play against Tier 1 opposition after their intriguing pool stage finale against England was cancelled as a result of Typhoon Hagibis.
The Welsh haven’t always looked convincing in this competition either, with a fragile display against Fiji a counterweight to their historic win against Australia. However, we’re backing Alun Wyn Jones to use all the leadership skills in his locker to help drive Wales over the line in a physical contest to extend his Rugby World Cup farewell tour beyond this weekend.
JAPAN VS SOUTH AFRICA
On paper this looks a one horse race. However, it would be foolish to write off Japan on home soil with the Brave Blossoms already throwing up most of the memorable moments in this tournament to date.
A closer look at each team suggests Japan can cause some serious issues for the Springboks. Japan’s athleticism and agility looks a good foil to South Africa’s physical presence. Their best chance of progressing to a first ever Rugby World Cup semi-final could rest on Kenki Fukuoka.
His form, combined with a fanatical home crowd at Ajinomoto Stadium, could make this contest a lot tighter than expected. However, South Africa’s superior quality should tell to ultimately ruin any chance of a fairy-tale ending to this year’s tournament for the Brave Blossoms.
Odds correct at time of writing but may be subject to change.
See all Rugby Predictions here.
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