England's World Cup campaign begins in earnest on Saturday morning as they face Argentina in Tokyo.
Eddie Jones' men have negotiated the opening two games with relative ease, racking up two bonus point wins against Tonga and the USA.
England’s stingy defence has conceded just once in the last three matches (USA’s last-second try) and that looks set to stand them in good stead against the Pumas, who have passed the 20 point mark just twice this year.
Jones looks to have selected his strongest 23-man squad with Mako Vunipola, Henry Slade and Jack Nowell all returning from injury to take their place on the bench – a welcome boost indeed.
Argentina enter the match with just one win in 2019 (the 28-12 victory over Tonga last Saturday) and look a far cry from the side that made the semi-finals in 2015. Mario Ledesma has made a huge selection call dropping fly-half Nicolas Sanchez from their 23-man squad for the first time in three years, opting instead for Benjamin Urdapilleta at number 10.
Argentina’s attack which has looked so slick over the last couple of seasons has been fairly blunt in Japan and they have reverted to their traditional strengths, with the forward pack accounting for five of their six tries – four of those going to hooker Julian Montoya.
It’s worth noting that England’s forwards have been similarly productive, scoring five of their 11 tries through the first two games.
Looking at these stats it seems as though Jamie George is slightly overpriced at 20/1 to score first – the Saracens star scored against Tonga and given the strength of England’s maul game, George could be in prime position to get his second try of the tournament.
My second bet of the game is England to win by 11-20 points at 11/4. The Pumas have only lost by more than 10 points once since the start of the year (a 46-13 loss to South Africa). Their last four results against England have seen them lose by 13-10-4-13, with those two middle defeats coming against a largely second string side.
England’s bench is arguably the strongest we have seen from any side in the tournament and while I expect a close tussle, those ‘finishers’ could come on to make all the difference and ease them away from the Pumas late on.