RUGBY WORLD CUP 2015
Saturday, 10 October 6:00am
New Zealand have Pool C all-but wrapped up and victory here will confirm top spot. Steve Hansen will be slightly concerned that his side are yet to fire on all cylinders. Last Friday, with a full strength team, they struggled to see off a weakened Georgia XV. A few late tries flattered the Kiwis as they won 43-10 but failed to cover the spread for their third successive pool match. Tonga were comprehensively beaten 45-16 by Argentina last time out but they will no doubt want to perform better against their Oceanic neighbours.
The last two head-to-heads between these two have both occurred at World Cups – New Zealand served up an 84 point pummelling back in 2003 but Tonga were able to improve significantly on that in the tournament opener four years ago as they lost by ‘only’ 31 points in Auckland. Between 2000-2010, the Kiwis won all six matches against Pacific Island teams by an average of 76 points, but in the three matches against similar opposition since their average winning margin has been 29 points including a narrow 25-16 victory over Samoa this summer.
Southern hemisphere sides have won all 11 World Cup matches against Pacific Island teams since 2003 and five of the wins have covered the starting spread here. Tonga’s defeats against the All Blacks mentioned above are the only two times they’ve been beaten by more than 30 points in their last 15 pool matches. They’ve had some tight games in that sample including losing by just five points against eventual champions South Africa in 2007.
It may take a quarter-final showdown against stronger opposition to bring the very best out of the All Blacks so we expect their trend of failing to cover the handicap line to continue here.
- Since 2000 New Zealand have won all nine matches against Pacific Island opponents
- Julian Savea has five tries in his last two appearances
- Southern hemisphere sides have won all 11 World Cup matches against Pacific Island teams since 2003
- Tonga have lost by more than 30 points just twice in their last 15 World Cup matches