Ireland vs Tonga Prediction and Betting Tips
🏈 Rugby World Cup 2023 Match Preview
⏰ 16 September 2023 - 20:00 GMT +1
⏰ 17 September 2023 - 23:00 AEST
🏟 Stadium - Stade de la Beaujoire (Nantes)
After crushing Romania 82-8 last week, Ireland is set to make some changes ahead of their huge match against South Africa. Coach Andy Farrell is looking to manage workloads before that potential quarterfinal decider. But Ireland can't overlook Tonga today. This is no guaranteed win.
Ireland was firing on all cylinders against Romania, scoring 12 tries evenly split across both halves. But Tonga is a step up in class from them. When these teams last met in 2021, Ireland had to grind out a 35-17 victory.
Farrell has made 6 changes to his starting 15. New faces like winger Mack Hansen and flanker Josh van der Flier will get their first starts. And veteran Conor Murray is back partnering captain Johnny Sexton, so that's a familiar playmaking duo.
Tonga may be the lowest ranked Pacific team, but they're no pushovers. Helped by loose eligibility rules, Tonga has poached a bunch of players with experience for Australia and New Zealand. Guys like prop Ben Tameifuna, who captains the side today. This is the strongest Tongan squad ever at a World Cup.
Former All Black Toutai Kefu coaches Tonga and believes they can spring an upset today like they did against France in 2011. They'll need huge games from exciting backs like Charles Piutau. He's a former All Black who could be a gamechanger.
For Ireland, center Bundee Aki has been red hot, scoring tries in 3 of his last 5 matches. While Tonga's Malakai Fekitoa will aim to score for a second country at World Cups after doing so for New Zealand in 2015.
Recent history suggests Tonga does most of their damage in the first half. So Ireland needs to start strong and not let this become a dogfight. If they play smart and avoid complacency, Ireland should win by 10-15 points. But Tonga has the talent to capitalize if Ireland is off their game.
📋 Players to watch:
- Johnny Sexton (flyhalf) - Veteran captain and playmaker. Will steer the attack.
- Bundee Aki (center) - Powerful ball carrier with try scoring form.
- Conor Murray (scrumhalf) - Experienced 9 with creative passing game.
- Charles Piutau (fullback) - Dynamic runner and offloader. Ex-All Black.
- Malakai Fekitoa (center) - Strong carrier looking for tries. Former All Black.
- Ben Tameifuna (prop) - Huge set piece anchor and captain.
⚡ Match Facts:
- This is the first meeting between the teams since November 2021 when Ireland won 35-17.
- Tonga has won only 1 of their last 10 Rugby World Cup matches.
- Ireland is on a 14 match unbeaten run as betting favorites vs other national teams.
- Tonga coach Toutai Kefu has targeted this match as a potential upset win.
- Tonga's starting front row weighs a massive 387kg combined.
- Irish center Bundee Aki has scored tries in 3 of his last 5 matches.
- Tonga often does their scoring damage in the first half.
- Tonga has several players who previously played for New Zealand and Australia.
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💡 Match Prediction:
Ireland scored 12 tries against weak opposition last week. They'll find it harder against a physical Tonga team, but should still create multiple scoring chances. Tonga will be competitive in the first half, but Ireland's class should take over after the break.
Match Result Prediction: Ireland should have too much quality and depth for Tonga to handle over 80 minutes. Even with some squad rotation, they have far more experience at this level. Tonga has never beaten a top tier nation at a Rugby World Cup. Ireland to win.
Recommended Bet: Ireland to win by 13-18 points
Point Difference Prediction:
I'm predicting Ireland will win by a margin of 15 points. Final score: Ireland 32 - Tonga 17.
Over/Under Prediction: The bookies have set the over/under at around 52.5 points. I lean towards the under here. Many of Ireland's recent matches against quality opposition have gone under. With both teams likely to slow the game down at times, I don't see them combining for 53+ points unless it's a very one-sided affair.
Recommended Bet: Under 52.5 total match points
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