Japan v Russia – Rugby World Cup 2019 Betting Preview and Prediction
The 2019 Rugby World Cup will kick off this Friday, September 20th at Tokyo Stadium, with a fixture between Russia and the host nation of Japan. It will mark the second head-to-head fixture in the history between the two nations following a friendly match in late November 2018, when Japan came out victorious (27:32). But can they do it again, or will the Cherry Blossoms start off their World Cup venture with a loss?
The pressure is on the hosts
There is always pressure on the hosts of any tournament to perform, and there is no greater pressure than that, which is put on the hosts of a World Cup tournament. Japan, while by no means a favourite to win their first-ever World Cup, are at least hoping they can produce a solid run and impress their home crowd. That being said, even advancing through their group stage and into playoffs could prove to be a tough task.
Japan found themselves paired with Scotland, Ireland, Samoa and Russia in Group A, making them underdogs to finish top two, considering they will have to outperform either Ireland or Scotland, as two favourites to claim their ticket to the playoffs. That being said, seeing Japan advance from the group stage is by no means an impossible task, as we do believe they got a solid chance of upsetting Scotland or even Ireland on the home soil later on. But for them to advance into the final eight, Japan will have to consider every match as a must-win, which especially holds true for the Friday’s fixture against Russia, who are quite possibly one of the worst teams in this year’s World Cup.
Entering the Friday’s fixture, Japan will count on their speed and skill to derail the physical team of Russia, who unlike Japan will count on their strength to claim a win here. However, there are some concerns about whether Japan will be able to utilize their strengths, considering the wet and humid conditions, which could suggest Japan will see a slow start of their World Cup campaign.
The favourites to claim the “Wooden Spoon” in group A
There is no beating around the bush when it comes to ranking Russian team strength and quality. The Bears are miles away in terms of quality compared to most of the other teams in Group A. However, that does not mean the Russian team won’t be competitive. Looking back at their results ahead of the World Cup, the Russians team lost to Italy (85:15), Jersey (22:35) and most recently against Connacht (14:42). That being said, they did manage to outclass Namibia (0:20) and Argentina B team (40:48) ahead of their run of three lost games, which is nothing to brag about, but it is at least something they can be proud of.
As far as what the Russian team can bring to the table, natural talent and quality are out of the question, but they do have the physical strength to make up for it. We can expect Russia to try and take advantage of that by shutting down Japan in set pieces, and if they succeed in forcing their playstyle on the hosts, the Bears could cause some problems against the Cherry Blossoms.
Verdict & Prediction
We first have to address the fact Japan are heavy favourites to win here, which considering the quality of the two teams is a fair assessment. That being said, this fixture will be an intriguing one, featuring two teams with completely contrasting playstyles. As mentioned above, Japan will rely on their speed, whereas it will be the Russians who will fight the Japanese explosiveness with their immense strength.
Picking out a winner here is not that hard. Japan are vastly superior to Russia and should have no problem claiming the first W of the World Cup. While the quality obviously is on Japan’s side, we have to take into consideration the conditions in which the two teams will play in. The humid weather in Japan and the wet ball will work in favour of the Russian team and their forward ball playstyle. While we can hardly believe the weather will have enough of an effect to give the Russians the needed the advantage to win here, it will surely have an effect on the scoring of both sides. In other words, this won’t be a high scoring match. With that in mind, we will trust Russia to cover the +40 handicap, which considering the weather conditions should not be too hard to do.
Prediction: Russia +39.50 points
Odds: 2.02 Matchbook, 2.00 Bet365