Rugby League World Cup Betting: McGilvary magic can make the difference

England face Tonga in the Rugby League World Cup semi-final on Saturday
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England have stumbled to the semi-finals but Ralph Ellis is banking on their top try scorer Jermaine McGilvary to see them over the line.

"McGilvary will be the key when Wayne Bennett’s side face Tonga in Auckland in the early hours (our time) on Saturday. With six tries to his name so far he could even end up as the Tournament Top try scorer"

If you'd written down at the start of the Rugby League World Cup the list of the 20 or even 30 players most likely to become huge stars, Jermaine McGilvary wouldn't have been on it.

The Huddersfield Giants winger is one of those solid pros who does his job week in and week out - 127 tries in 183 games for his club proves that - but never really gets too much in the way of headlines.

Well that's changed already in the last few weeks as clubs in the NRL queue up to make huge offers for him to go and play Down Under. And it could change even more if England not only make it to next week's final but upset massive favourites Australia.

Is it being hugely optimistic to think there are echoes of Sir Geoff Hurst, who emerged from pretty much nowhere to win England the football World Cup in 1966? He was a worker who fitted the system and grabbed his moment in the spotlight.

McGilvary could yet do the same after finishing off the best of England's occasional flashes of quality in what has been an inconsistent campaign so far.

It's a damning indictment of their stuttering progress to the last four that England don't feature on the top five list of either most points (Fiji with 172) or most tries (again Fiji with 32). But they are second in most tackles made in the tournament (1,247), which at least means they have stuck to their guns when spending too much time out of possession.

It's why McGilvary will be the key when Wayne Bennett's side face Tonga in Auckland in the early hours (our time) on Saturday. With six tries to his name so far he could even end up as the Tournament Top try scorer - he's currently two behind Fiji's Suliasi Vunivalu.

McGilvary is humble about his own background. "I'm not the most talented, the most naturally gifted, or the fittest," he says. "I just work at the little things in my game."

It's just as well because so far his finishing has covered the cracks of a series of disjointed performances. England started their quarter-final against Papua New Guinea brilliantly but then lapsed into too many handling errors to finish with just a 56 per cent completion rate.

Even talisman Sam Burgess was way off his best, missing tackles and sloppy in his use of the ball.

Bigger games could be just the time for him to step up, though. England are [1.56] in the Match Odds, but with the quality of McGilvary's finishing are far better value to back at around even money to win with a handicap of minus 4.5 points.

The other semi, played at 9am our time on Friday, should see Australia confirm their status as [1.18] favourites to be World Cup winners by beating Fiji, although it won't be as straightforward as four years ago when they thrashed the South Sea Islanders 64-0.

As well as Vunivalu's try scoring, Fiji have the quality of Jarryd Hayne who bizarrely played for Australia against them in the 2013 World Cup when he was one of the stars of the tournament. Backing Fiji plus 24.5 points could pay dividends here.

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