Australia vs Fiji Prediction and Betting Tips
🏈 Rugby World Cup 2023 Match Preview
⏰ 17 September 2023 - 19:45 GMT +1
⏰ 18 September 2023 - 01:45 AEST
🏟 Stadium - Stade Geoffroy-Guichard (Saint-Étienne)
The Wallabies got the job done against Georgia on Saturday, notching a four-try bonus point in a 70-minute performance to jump up to seventh in the world rankings and become Pool C's top side. They overtook Fiji for that spot but were perhaps a touch fortunate, with just one key Fijian error separating Australia from its first win over Wales in 16 years.
Even so, Fiji's strong showings against both Wales and England in a warmup match have left this clash wide open. It forced Eddie Jones to curb his rotations ahead of next weekend's match against Wales. The Wallabies can't approach this one lightly, particularly given Fiji was ranked higher than Australia entering the tournament. The current Wallaby squad is also well below the one that came from behind to beat Fiji 39-21 back in 2019.
Australia copped a couple injury blows during the week. Prop Taniela Tupou is likely out for the whole group stage, while Will Skelton picked up a potential knock in the final training session on Friday. He was unlikely to play as of early Friday afternoon. Tupou's absence meant the recall of former skipper James Slipper, who becomes the third Wallaby ever to play in four World Cups. Richie Arnold was set to be dropped but now stays in the team with Skelton out. Scrumhalf Nic White replaces Tate McDermott, who suffered a head injury last week. That's the only change among the backs.
Fiji has covered the main pre-match spread in four of its six games this year, averaging a solid 35.4 points. That includes a Pacific Nations Cup title. The team should have made it five out of six last week if not for Semi Radradra fumbling a probable try beyond the 80th minute. Fiji otherwise won most of the stat counts against Wales, including territory and possession.
Coach Simon Raiwalui focused heavily on bonding and fitness this year. In its last nine games, Fiji hasn't lost a half by more than 14 points despite facing strong opposition like France, Scotland and England. Raiwalui wants to prove "the gap is closing." With crowd backing and key subs Josua Tuisova and Levani Botia passing fitness tests during the week, Fiji should deliver a spirited if not match-winning performance.
📋 Players to watch:
- The two red-hot backs for both sides will look to continue their outstanding form.
- Australia's Mark Nawaqanitawase has scored tries in three of his last five internationals.
- Fiji's Waisea Nayacalevu has done so in four of his last six.
⚡ Match Facts:
- Australia defeated Georgia 70 minutes to get a 4-try bonus point on Saturday
- The win moved Australia up to 7th in world rankings and top of Pool C
- Australia overtook Fiji for top spot in Pool C rankings
- Fiji played well against Wales and England recently, making this a tough match for Australia
- Australia coach Eddie Jones made fewer rotations due to Fiji's strong performances
- Prop Taniela Tupou is ruled out for Australia, replaced by veteran James Slipper
- Will Skelton also injured for Australia, but Richie Arnold stays in team
- Scrumhalf Nic White only change to Australia backs
- Fiji has covered the spread in 4 of last 6 matches, averaging 35.4 points
- Fiji narrowly lost to Wales last week after a late handling error
- Fiji won territory and possession against Wales
- Fiji focused on bonding and fitness this year under coach Simon Raiwalui
- Key Fiji subs Josua Tuisova and Levani Botia passed fitness tests
- Australia's Mark Nawaqanitawase and Fiji's Waisea Nayacalevu are players to watch
- 7 of Australia's last 11 matches had margin under 7 points
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💡 Match Prediction:
This match between Australia and Fiji looks to be a close one based on recent form and the key stats. Australia is ranked higher at #7 and is the top Pool C team, but only narrowly overtook Fiji. The Wallabies have a home advantage, but Fiji has played them tough in recent years.
Fiji's strong performances against Wales and England show they are ready to challenge the Wallabies. The late loss to Wales was unlucky. Their fitness focus, returning stars, and spread-covering scoring ability make Fiji dangerous.
However, Australia has more depth and experience. The injuries are a concern, but Slipper is a good replacement and the starting backs are unchanged. Eddie Jones' rotation reduction indicates he sees this as a serious test.
Australia's close margins in recent matches suggest this could go down to the wire. But with home support, I give them a slight edge.
Prediction: Australia by 3-7 points
Betting tips: Australia to win - Fiji +7.5 spread - Under 47.5 total points
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