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Rugby World Cup – Games To Watch This Week

If you’re a fan of Uruguay, Tonga, Portugal or Samoa then here’s some great news – you haven’t put a foot wrong so far in Rugby World Cup 2023.

They should be the Forgotten Four. The Snubbed Middle of the four tournament pools.

Have a glance at the tables and there they are – halfway up, neither up nor down, like the Grand Old Duke of York, as they wait, patiently, to get going.

Maybe out of all of them, you have to feel most sorry for Uruguay. Not only did they have to sit out the opening weekend in Pool A, but now they have to face the hosts, France, who are fresh off bashing the All Blacks and brimful of Gallic self-belief.

That fixture is on Thursday night, and like every other bookmaker, DragonBet are offering odds the width of the Champs Elysees on the South American creating the mother of all upsets.

You can back a Uruguayan victory at odds of 50/1, or get 66/1 on the draw.

It’s a different story for the other late starters, the Samoans, when they play Chile in Pool D on Saturday.

The Samoans are old hands and although they have been eclipsed in recent times by Fiji in the world rankings, they are still a physically formidable outfit with a pedigree in World Cups that has given them 13 victories in 32 matches.

Ranked No.11, they should be too strong for Chile, who are down at 22nd and were beaten 42-12 in their opening game by Japan. The Chileans are 33/1 outsiders with DragonBet

Portugal get going in Pool C on Saturday and just happen to be Wales’ next opponents in Nice.

The Portuguese are ranked 16th in the world and can expect a tough opening game against a Welsh team likely to be very different from the side that beat Fiji as Warren Gatland rests most of his front-line starters.

But Portugal will be lively on the counter and their skills as Sevens specialists should provide some entertainment if Wales give them any space.

The only thing likely to ruffle the Three Feathers is if Wales should be on the wrong side of a red card for a mistimed tackle as happened to England.

The Red Roses had Tom Curry sent off against Argentina and the flanker has now been banned for two matches, but even if that happened to Wales, Dan Biggar reckons his team would take it in their stride.

“England were absolutely magnificent after going down to 14 men,” said Biggar.

“It was almost like the red card was better for England than Argentina, it galvanised them and they absolutely worked their socks off.

“It was good for us watching that game as a team. We spoke about having a similar mindset, whether we lose a player or go down a bit, still working your socks off.”

Portugal are 20/1 to beat Wales, with Warren Gatland’s men now at 33/1 to win the tournament outright following their gritty opening win over Fiji.

Before Wales play, the New Zealand get a chance to put things right after their defeat to France, by turning over Namibia in Pool A on Friday night.

And after Wales finish up, the Saturday night slot is taken up by Ireland who face Tonga in Pool B in Nantes.

Maybe, then, it’s not Uruguay we should feel the biggest sympathy for, but Tonga, who get going in the tournament a full eight days after the whole thing kicked off.

The Tongans also have to face the No.1 team in the world, fresh from putting 82 points on Romania in their opener.

Sunday’s trio of matches all see teams who have already got one match under the belts, get stuck into game two.

That’s South Africa v Romania, Australia v Fiji and England – now less heated without Curry – meet Japan.

The pick of those games might be the Wallabies against the Flying Fijians – a clash that could well be just as tight as Fiji’s opener against Wales.

DragonBet have the Aussies to win at 1/3, but make Fiji 5/2 to win and really open up things in Pool C as they already have two losing bonus points from that game against Wales.

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