It's Victor Matfield's last match as a Springbok, and a near full-strength South African side will have too much motivation and talent for a depleted Argentina line-up, says Rajiv Maharaj...
"This match has the strongest whiff of a windfall for punters. And this column has never been one to stare gift horses in the mouth. Taking the Boks to cover the -8.5 Exchange handicap at [2.02] is strongly recommended."
South Africa v Argentina
Friday October 30, 20:00
Live on ITV
Cutting to the chase here: get on the Springboks to give the Pumas a proper thumping in the Rugby World Cup bronze medal match at London's Olympic Park on Friday. Taking the South Africans to cover a -8.5 handicap at [2.02] is arguably the best value bet of the 2015 tournament to date. Indeed, it's a strangely generous handicap for the Boks - a gift, dare we say it. A drift out to -10.5, maybe more, wouldn't surprise. It still won't be enough though.
Five of the last seven meetings between these two sides were decided by 1-12 margins. Why then are we so bullish with our recommendations? The reasoning is two-fold. Firstly, the Pumas are fielding their 'B' team for all intents and purposes, with nine changes to the first-string side from last Sunday's 29-15 semi-final loss to Australia.
Five of those changes are in the backs, four in the forwards. Argentina's coach, Daniel Hourcade, hand has been forced: his best players were absolutely spent last Sunday. Expecting those players to back-up on a six-day turnaround would have been too much to ask. And the Pumas simply don't have the depth of talent to stay competitive against a full-strength Bok side. It's a mismatch.
The second reason has to with the significance of the game to the South Africans. It's captain Victor Matfield's last match, and maybe even Brian Habana's too. With only two changes to the line-up that pushed New Zealand all the way last week (Matfield in for Lodewyk de Jager, and Ruan Pienaar for Fourie du Preez at scrum-half), the Boks have made their intention clear: they plan to go out on a substantial winning note to farewell Matfield, one of the game's all-time greats.
This match has the strongest whiff of a windfall for punters. And this column has never been one to stare gift horses in the mouth. Hence, we're all in with the profits we're made from the tournament thus far. Taking the Boks to cover the -8.5 Exchange handicap at [2.02] is strongly recommended. For the reasons stated, the expectation is for a substantial win, hence another strong recommend for South Africa to win by over 12.5 points paying [2.74].
For the risk averse, perhaps [1.73] for the South Africa/South Africa HT/FT double.
In other markets, Habana stands out at 6/4 to score a try. Habana has scored 15 World Cup tries and is tied with Jonah Lomu as the tournament's leading tryscorer. One more try and the record is his alone. Surely, he will find a way. We also like the Sportbook's 9/1 on Habana to score the game's first try.
Habana's wing partner, JP Pietersen is priced at 15/8 to score a try and is recommended too. And, finally, a doff of the cap to Matfield. He's paying 12/1 to score a try. Given the context, he's great value. If he can't engineer his way over the line, it's very likely his teammates will set him up for what would be a well-deserved parting gift.
Back South Africa to cover - 8.5 handicap @ [2.02]
Back South Africa to win by over 12.5 points @ [2.75]
Back South Africa/South Africa HT/FT double @ [1.73]
Back Bryan Habana to score a try @ 6/4 (Sportsbook)
Back Bryan Habana to score the first try @ 9/1 (Sportsbook)
Back JP Pietersen to score a try @ 15/8 (Sportsbook)
Back Victor Matfield to score a try @ 12/1 (Sportsbook)