Joseph Manu has the potential to lead New Zealand’s charge. Free rugby league predictions, best bets, and analysis for the Rugby League World Cup matches on Saturday.
What to look out for
- Jamaica vs. New Zealand. 7.30 p.m. on BBC Three and iPlayer Saturday
- France vs. England, Saturday, 5 p.m. on BBC Two and iPlayer
- BBC iPlayer, 2.30pm, Fiji vs. Italy Saturday
- France +36 (2 points) 21-20 BoyleSports
- +74 (Jamaica)
1 point 10-11 in general
J Manu was the first tryscorer, scoring 1 point each way in an 11-2 victory. Paddy Power and Betfair
Predictions for Saturday
Backing the team with a handicap start has been the way to go at the World Cup, and a couple more plucky underdogs deserve to be supported in Saturday’s group games.
Seven of the eight jollies failed to cover the mark in round one, and France could be the latest team to take advantage of a generous start.
Les Bleus face England at the University of Bolton Stadium, and the winner will be in a strong position to finish first in Group A. Both teams won their first games, with England taking the section by the scruff of the neck with a stunning 60-6 victory over Samoa.
The Samoans were heavy favorites to win that game and top the group, but Shaun Wane’s team is now in pole position to advance as the group’s top dog.
England’s most difficult game is over, but they may not have it all their own way against a fired-up French side comprised primarily of Betfred Super League stars from Catalans Dragons.
The last time these two teams met, England won 30-10, and the Three Lions have won the last 20 meetings.
France has not beaten the old foe from across the Channel since February 1981, and England has also won all four of their World Cup meetings.
So odds of 1-50 on a home win appear justified, but a massive 38-point lead for Les Bleus is well worth taking, as England has only beaten France by more than that margin in three of their last ten meetings.
Wane has chosen to shuffle his team for this match, bringing in all seven players who did not play last week, so Tommy Makinson, Morgan Knowles, Matty Lees, and Michael McIlorum are among those who will miss out, potentially leading to a disjointed performance from England.
France has retained the majority of the team that defeated Greece last week in order to remain competitive in Bolton, while Jamaica is worth backing with a 74-point lead over New Zealand.
Jamaica was thrashed 48-2 by Ireland in their opener, while New Zealand easily defeated Lebanon 34-12.
So a New Zealand victory is likely, but their largest winning margin in their last nine games was 68 points, so Jamaica is expected to stay within that range.
New Zealand is also expected to make changes, which may take some time to adjust to, and they are also expected to ease up in the latter stages of the game.
Joseph Manu, who scored a try and assisted, was one of the Kiwis’ standout performers last week.
He was a threat all game against the Cedars and looks like a good bet to start the scoring at MKM Stadium in Hull.
Fiji are 1-7 favourites to win their first match of the competition against Italy, but the match is difficult to call and should be avoided for betting purposes.
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