Australia are 18 points favourites for the final of the Rugby League World Cup against England and that might be overestimating the gulf in class. Beating them on their own patch is a win too far for England but they can certainly keep the margin of defeat below the handicap line. The match also provides an opportunity to benefit from an in-running betting strategy.
England beat Tonga by two points in the semi-final. They had a comfortable 20 point lead but then their opponents scored three converted tries in the last seven minutes. Tonga threw everything at England and for some players it brought back horrible memories of the semi-final in 2013. That ended in heartbreaking defeat against New Zealand and the players who appeared in both matches were dreading history repeating itself but England survived this time.
England scrapped through to their first final since 1995 but those final seven minutes could have undone the hard work of the previous 73. That must be a key message to the players because a full 80 minutes performance is required against Australia in the final. England are big underdogs but it’s a superb achievement to reach the final in the Southern Hemisphere. The last four meeting was played in New Zealand but it was like a home match for Tonga and England delivered for most of the match.
Australia beat Fiji 54-6 in the other semi-final and they are by some distance the best team in the tournament. It will take a huge effort from England to limit the damage to less than 18 points in the final in Brisbane on Saturday. Local bookies Crownbet make the Aussies 1.11 for a dollar which equates to about 1/9 in fractional odds. England can be backed at 7/1 with UK bookies to win the match in 80 minutes. Australia cannot be opposed but England are the handicap bet.
The two sides have met in 15 full internationals of which Australia have won 12, England two and there has been one draw. Australia have outscored England by 399 points to 188 which equates to an average winning margin of 14 points. In the opening fixture of this World Cup Australia beat England 18-4 which is par for the course. In 2014 there was a four point’s difference and in the last four meetings Australia’s margin of victory has been at least 18 points just once. England can beat Australia with an 18 point start this time.
You can take advantage of a potential trading error with regards live odds. If Australia lead by a big margin at half-time the handicap line could be adjusted. However, often bookmakers overreact and assume the winning side will replicate their scoring in the first half in the second. With the match just about won the team leading can drop a level in motivation and commitment and the trailing team can sometimes win the second half or reduce the point’s difference. Opposing handicap favourites who have a big lead is a strategy that could make you money in the final.
England have never won the Rugby League World Cup and they are playing the defending champions in their own back yard. Australia look unbeatable on current and past form but England can restrict them to a winning margin of less than 18 points and can fare better after the break. England should be backed in the pre-match and in-running handicap markets but not to win the World Cup.