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England will be red-hot favourites to get their Rugby World Cup campaign off to a strong start when they take on Tonga at the Sapporo Dome. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 8:15pm (AEST).
England may not be favourites to take out the tournament, but they are the favoured side to finish at the top of Group B, dubbed the group of death at this year’s World Cup.
In a group featuring France and Argentina, this may not be the hit out they need to get themselves prepared for that contest, but it is a game they can use to make a statement and show every other team where they are at as a team with preparations now over for the showcase tournament.
While England battled through the start of their preparation, splitting a series with Wales, but finished strongly as they thumped both Ireland and Italy, and maybe hitting their stride at just the right time.
While this game is hardly likely to be much of a challenge for England, it’ll still be good to see the side in action with Ben Youngs and George Ford lining up in the halves, looking to link up and provide plenty of opportunities for the back three of Jonny May, Anthony Watson and Elliot Daly.
Where Tonga will bring something of a challenge though is in the forwards, so there will be some pressure on Joe Marler to lead his side off to a good start, while big things are expected of Billy Vunipola in the number eight jumper.
Tonga will need to set the tone early if they are going to make anything out of this game, and must avoid falling off tackles and making life easy for England.
Their scrum will have to be strong, with Siegfried Fisiihoi, Sam Lousi and Ben Tameifuna the three who need to set the tempo early on if the talented Kurt Morath and David Halaifonua are any chance of leading the Pacific Island nation to put up points against England and cause a boilover.
While Tonga didn’t have a terrible Pacific Islands cup, their final game before leaving for Japan was a 92-7 blitz at the hands of New Zealand, so it’s hard to imagine they take any confidence into this match.
England should be far too strong for the Tongans in this one.
England by 30.
Be sure to join The Roar for live coverage of this Rugby World Cup match from 8:15pm (AEST) and don’t forget to add a comment in the section below.
Kick-off: 8:15pm (AEST)
Venue: Sapporo Dome
TV: Live, Fox Sports 503
Online: Live, Kayo Sports, Foxtel App, Foxtel Now
Betting: England $1.01, Tonga $41
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
1. Joe Marler, 2. Jamie George, 3. Kyle Sinckler, 4. Courtney Lawes, 5. Maro Itoje, 6. Tom Curry, 7. Sam Underhill, 8. Billy Vunipola, 9. Ben Youngs, 10. George Ford, 11. Jonny May, 12. Owen Farell (c), 13. Manu Tuilagi, 14. Anthony Watson, 15. Elliot Daly
16. Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17. Ellie Genge, 18. Dan Cole, 19. George Kruis, 20. Lewis Ludlam, 21. Willi Heinz, 22. Henry Slade, 23. Jonathan Joseph
1. Siegfried Fisiihoi, 2. Sefo Sakalia, 3. Ben Tameifuna, 4. Sam Lousi, 5. Leva Fifita, 6. Sione Kalamafoni, 7. Zane Kapeli, 8. Maama Vaipulu, 9. Sonatane Takulua, 10. Kurt Morath, 11. Viliami Lolohea, 12. Cooper Vunia, 13. Siae Piutau, 14. Atieli Pakalani, 15. David Halaifonua
16. Siua Maile, 17. Latu Talakai, 18. Ma’afu Fia, 19. Daniel Fal’eafa, 20. Nasi Manu, 21. Leon Fukofuka, 22. James Faiva, 23. Nafi Tuitavake