Rugby World Cup Pool A: Injury-hit Wales won’t underestimate Fiji
A humbling 34-38 loss to Fiji at the 2007 edition of the Rugby World Cup ensures Wales will be taking their latest encounter with the Pacific Islanders very seriously, despite their obvious injury crisis.
Coral make Warren Gatland’s team firm odds-on 1/7 favourites for victory in Pool A on home turf at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, and this is the perfect opportunity to pile further pressure on tournament hosts England.
Wales’ playing for penalties strategy in their narrow 28-25 win at Twickenham last time out has attracted criticism in some quarters, but is understandable given their numbers on the treatment table.
Gatland lost three more against England – a heavy price to pay for victory – so is forced into changes against Fiji, who are not without merit at 6/1 to cause another upset on rugby union’s grandest stage.
Hallam Amos, plus Liam and Scott Williams are the latest Welsh casualties; so relative rookie Matthew Morgan comes in at full back, namesake Tyler at centre and Alex Cuthbert, a 13/2 chance to silence his critics and score the first try, on the wing. James Hook and Gareth Anscombe come onto the replacements bench too.
Some underwhelming performances from Tyler Morgan and Cuthbert during the World Cup warm-up matches must be swept aside, and both need to make the step up to help a decimated Wales.
It remains to be seen whether Gatland adopts a more positive approach to this Fiji fixture, with the first scoring play set at an enhanced 6/4 for a Welsh penalty (max stake £20) and 3/1 on a try.
Gareth Davies has crossed three times at the Rugby World Cup already, and is thus 11/8 to do so again anytime for Wales. A common denominator in their two groups victories to date, the scrum half appeals in a boosted price 7/4 wincast.
The Pacific Islanders have had more rest than the Welsh, but head coach John McKee still makes six alterations of his own. Bath scrum half Niko Matawalu and Fiji’s first-choice kicker Nemani Nadolo are major misses through injury and suspension respectively.
Timoci Nagusa deputises on the wing for Nadolo, and was the top tryscorer in French domestic rugby during 2014/15. He’s a threat the Welsh must contain, and is 5/2 to go over for a try anytime.
As five of Wales’ eight wins against Fiji have come by narrow margins of less than 10 points, and in light of their mounting injury crisis, a similarly small victory appeals again at awesome odds of 11/4.
Coral’s top tip: Davies is really delivering from scrum half, so take advantage of Coral’s enhanced special on a Wales win and him scoring a try at 7/4 (max stake £20).