Australia v FranceIt was a rusty start to Australia’s World Cup title defence as they edged past England 18-4 after trailing early in the contest. The win also came at a cost, with Manly enforcer Jake Trbojevic ruled out of the tournament with a pectoral injury. Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga has made mass changes to his side for the clash against France, with Tom Trbojevic, Josh Mansour, James Maloney, Reagan Cambell-Gillard, Felise Kaufusi and Cameron Munster all coming into the side. Dane Gagai, Valentine Holmes, Cooper Cronk, Boyd Cordner and Matt Gillett have all been rested. Gagai was one of Australia’s best in the win over England, running for 190 metres from 23 runs, but The Wolf is excited to see how Tom Trbojevic performs in the green and gold. Meanwhile, France went down to Lebanon 29-18 in a thriller in Canberra and couldn’t face a tougher second-up assignment. Centre Bastien Ader was very good in the loss, scoring two tries and running for 172 metres. Australian ran out comfortable 42-4 winners against France when they last clashed in 2009. It could get ugly again in Canberra on Friday night, with the Kangaroos likely to run up a cricket score and cover the 54.5 line with ease.
Best: Australia -54.5 ($1.90)
Value: BuildABet – Either Slater, Trbojevic or Mansour to score first try ($2.20)
New Zealand v ScotlandThe Wolf expected more of a fight from Samoa in Week 1, but they were no match for the Kiwis as they raced away to a comfortable 38-8 win. The Wolf’s value bet ($6) also landed with Jordan Rapana scoring the first try and the Kiwis getting the win. Like his Australian counterpart, Mal Meninga, Kiwis coach David Kidwell has made mass changes for the clash against Scotland. Jason Nightingale, Dean Whare, Peta Hiku, Te Maire Martin, Elijah Taylor, Kenny Bromwich and Addin Fonua-Blake have all been named after missing the opening clash at Samoa. Martin makes his debut at the expense of Kodi Nikorima, who picked up a minor hamstring injury, while Fonua-Blake will also make his New Zealand debut off the bench. Scotland were hammered 50-4 by Tonga in very hot conditions in Cairns and will now travel to Christchurch to take on the Kiwis in a tough schedule to start their World Cup campaign. Scottish centre, Lachlan Stein was the only player in his side to run for over 100 metres (146) in the big loss to the Tonga, highlighting how the Scottish pack was completely dominated by Jason Taumalolo and co.  The one shining light for Scotland is the knowledge that they more than matched the Kiwis in their 18-all draw in England during the Four Nations last year. It must be noted that players like Lachlan Coote, Euan Aitken and Kane Linnett played for the Scots on that occasion. The Wolf is expecting an improved effort from Scotland with pride on the line and the amount of changes to the Kiwi side could keep this closer than a lot of people expect. The Wolf is hoping it doesn’t hurt him again but is taking Scotland at the line.
Best: Scotland +44.5 ($1.90)
Value: Scotland +44.5 & Under 54.5 ($2.60)
Samoa v TongaGet ready for fireworks! This will be the match of the World Cup so far when Tonga and Samoa go toe-to-toe in Waikato on Saturday. Tonga was extremely impressive in their 50-4 thumping of Scotland last week, but will face a stiffer test this week against a Samoan side, who will have a point to prove after their 30-point loss to New Zealand in Week 1. Samoa have won their last two clashes against Tonga, including an 18-6 win at Parramatta Stadium last year. There’s no question that Tonga is significantly stronger this time around, with the additions of Michael Jennings, Andrew Fifita and Jason Taumalolo to the side. The Wolf is expecting a tighter affair than the line suggests, with plenty of passion on the line and is happy to take Samoa with the start.
Best: Samoa +12 ($1.90)
Value: Tonga by 1-10 ($3.50)
England v LebanonEngland showed enough in their 18-4 loss to Australia to suggest they can be a real force in this World Cup. Unfortunately the loss of Sam Burgess to injury is a major blow, but the likes of James Graham and Sean O’Loughlin will carry this side a long way. The Wolf was also impressed with the performance of James Roby off the bench. One target for Lebanon should be England’s halfback, Luke Gale, who was a liability in defence against Australia, missing five tackles. Gale won the Man of Steel in the English Super League and will be determined for a better performance in both attack and defence here. Mitchell Moses was the hero for Lebanon as he guided them to a 29-18 win over France in Week 1. He had a hand in two of Lebanon’s tries and kicked the all-important field goal. Tim Mannah and Alex Twal led the Lebanese forward pack in the 11-point victory and will relish the stiffer challenge this week. The win over France was Lebanon’s grand final, while England will look to make a statement here despite the absence of Sam Burgess. England to cover.
Best: England -30.5 ($1.90)
Value: England 41+ Points / Lebanon 11-20 Points ($3.50)
PNG v IrelandPNG went berserk in Week 1, smashing Wales 50-6, with skipper David Mead crossing for a hat-trick and running 189 metres, while Bulldogs backrower Rhyse Martin scored a double and kicked five goals. PNG has a massive advantage once again, with the National Football Stadium in Ports Moresby playing host for a consecutive week. One of the biggest surprise packets of Week 1 was the performance of Ireland as they dismantled Italy 36-12. The Wolf was chips in Italy and was guilty of underestimating the Irish, who were well-directed around the park by skipper Liam Finn. Ireland backrower Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook showed all of his Super League experience, with a strong outing, running for 206 metres and scoring a try. PNG is a tough place to go and win, but The Wolf won’t underestimate Ireland again, and is tipping them with the start.
Best: Ireland +17.5 ($1.90)
Value: Ireland +17.5 & Over 52.5 ($4.75)
Italy v USAIt’s clear that the USA is at the World Cup to make up the numbers and were fortunate that Fiji didn’t put 100 on them in Week 1, instead suffering a 58-12 thrashing. Meanwhile, Italy were expected to get the better of Ireland in Week 1, but were upset 36-12 and will be hoping to put that performance and the off-field drama in the lead-up to the clash with the USA behind them. There is reports that Italian fullback James Tedesco was punched by teammate Shannon Wakeman during a drinking session after the loss to Ireland in Cairns. Terry Campese returns to the Italian side after missing last week’s clash, while Ryan Ghietti replaces the injured Jack Johns in the No.7 jersey. This is a big bounce back spot for Italy and look for Tedesco to show everyone why he is one of the best custodians in the game.
Best: Italy -19.5 ($1.90)
Value: James Tedesco to score 2+ tries ($3)
Fiji v WalesWales was outclassed 50-6 in their opening 2017 World Cup clash against PNG and face another tough assignment when they travel to take on Fiji in Townsville. Fiji smashed the USA 58-12 and will be looking to make it back-to-back wins. Fiji ran in 11 tries, with Kevin Naiqama, Suliasi Vunivalu and Taane Milne all scoring doubles. Wales prop Craig Kopczak (13 runs for 92 metres) was the best of the Welsh forwards against PNG, illustrating how much the Welsh pack struggled in PNG. They looked outclassed again here against Fiji and we should see plenty of meat pies for the Fijian outside men once again. The Wolf tipped Vunivalu to score 2+ tries last week, and is going to the well again, but this time he is tipping a hat-trick!
Best: Fiji -44.5 ($1.90)
Value: Suliasi Vunivalu to score 3+ tries ($2.50)

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