Wales v Samoa Rugby Betting Preview, Nov 16 730pm. Wales -9 10/11 bluesquare, Samoa +11 evens, ladbrokes.
We were quite Bullish about Argentina’s chances versus Wales last week, we said back them +11, and we said they might even win the game – and we’re still annoyed at ourselves for not backing the straight win. It’s quite refreshing from a betting perspective when things don’t go the way the bookies are telling us they will, and it makes your balls grow Biggar for when the next raid grows near. They mightn’t yet be big enough to back Samoa though.
Wales have made plenty of changes, the main one being Ryan Jones back in as captain. We said last week he was a huge loss and so it proved. He always seems to pop up when Wales are in need and they are indeed in need this weekend. Wales are in clear and present danger of slipping out of the top 8 should they lose this game and if other results go a certain way across the remainder of the Autumn tests. Hence this has become something of a must-win game for them. Other notable changes are the under performing Scarlet’s halves Knoyle and Priestland relegated to the bench, and in steps kicking maestro Biggar, and Mike Phillips. Warburton is replaced by a man who is on far better form – Tipuric, who could realistically take Warburton’s starting berth for the upcoming 6 nations at seven if he stays injury free. Bradley Davies returns in the second row and will bring some badly needed dog and go forward back into the side.
Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Ashley Beck, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Ryan Jones (capt), 5 Ian Evans, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Gethin Jenkins, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Luke Charteris, 20 Sam Warburton, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Scott Williams.
Samoa name a side with a bit of quality, the players in bold below being the standouts – the backrow is useful if all of a quite similar style. Treveranus has been playing some good stuff for London Irish, but you’d fancy the Welsh backrow over all of them, except maybe Faleteau who has been quiet enough so far this season. There are a few weak points, there’s not much on the Samoan bench, and we think Lemi (who is small enough) at captain is possibly a bad choice. Lemi scored a great try for Worcester recently but he has slowed down the last year or two, and against a huge Welsh backline you’d expect him to be targeted from the off. Tusi Pisi at ten didn’t kick all of the goals against Canada either (that was So’iola, who is banned for this game), and while he’s had a few games in Super rugby he won’t bring the surety from the kicking tee that Samoa had last week in that easily-won game. Canada were missing some of their bigger players as a sidenote, and in general you’d wonder how much good it will have done Samoa for this week.
Samoa: 15 Faatoina Autagavaia, 14 Paul Perez, 13 George Pisi, 12 Paul Williams, 11 David Lemi (capt), 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Taiasina Tuifua, 7 Maurie Fa’asavalu, 6 Ofisa Treviranus, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Daniel Leo, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Ole Avei, 1 Sakaria Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Ti’i Paulo, 17 Villiamu Afatia, 18 James Johnston, 19 tbc, 20 Tivaini Fomai, 21 Jeremy Su’a, 22 Johnny Leota, 23 Robert Lilomaiava.
There’s plenty of hard hitting ability in the Samoan side, and the side they have out on Friday night is very similar to the one that lost by a point at the death to Scotland in the summer. Samoa had a try ruled out towards the end that would have won them that game. The Scottish side that was out was a little weak, but it was still an achievement of sorts for Samoa. They have an arguably stronger side out here with George Pisi from Northampton and Leo of Perpignan being added who they were missing that day v Scotland. However, other recent Samoan results don’t paint such a pretty picture. They barely scraped past Japan and Fiji in the pacific nations cup (which they did win), and they had a good chunk of Friday’s starters available. They now face a wounded Wales who are on a four game losing streak and who are desperate to prove a point here tomorrow.
To be frank, Wales in general are a far better side than Samoa. Even allowing for individual ability the Welsh match up, and the Welsh structure and familiarity from playing together at club level (many of them) is in contrast to a Samoan side with very little meaningful gametime recently. Wales have a better lineout, a better nine and ten, and if you look across the backline it starts to look ominous for Samoa. Phillps, Biggar, North, Roberts, Beck and Cuthbert are all very big men, and can all score tries. The Samoans are going to be feeling some serious hits out wide and they’re going to have a nightmare stopping these lads, especially wee David Lemi. George Pisi is quite injury prone and Northampton fans will be watching from behind the sofa hoping he doesn’t go off injured. The weather is set to be wet early on Friday and/or during the game, and Wales have a distinct advantage in the scrum and on the scrum replacement bench – James Johnston on the Samoan bench is a scrum-penalty magnet for Quins in the Premiership, lord knows how he’ll go at international level. And with the wet weather, and the scrums, will likely come penalties, and in steps Dan Biggar.
Biggar is not going to set the Welsh backline alight, but what he can do is kick penalties, and he has a point to prove in his lonely quest for fly half domination of Welsh middle Earth. Biggar will know fellow Osprey Fotuali (Samoan Scrumhalf) inside-out and former Osprey Phillips will be all over him. This game could well follow a simple pattern of Wales keeping it tight and nudging ahead through penalties in the wet, and then really cutting loose when Samoa start to get desperate and the pressure lifts. On the whole, it’s hard to see where Samoa can win this, and Wales should win this by a fair whack once they don’t panic, keep it tight, and take their points when the opportunities come (and there should be plenty).
Main bet- We’ve taken Wales -9 at 10/11 still available in Bluesquare and Sportingbet (minus 10 and 11 everywhere else). Wales have a point to prove and they have the tools to take Samoa apart.
Tryscorer bet- back future Welsh top tryscorer of all time Alex Cuthbert to score a try anytime in Skybet at a massive 13/8. (he’s 6/4 and 6/5 elsewhere) We’ve had a bigger than usual tryscorer interest on him for this one; it will be a surprise if Wales get into the ascendancy and he doesn’t dot down. He scores tries for a living this lad- no really, he does!
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this Friday 16th at midnight – you can find more details by clicking here.