Betting Week in Review: Rugby and Football Feature in our Round-Up
Referee decisions dominate our review of the betting week. In the Six Nations, two controversial tries were awarded to Wales as they took the Triple Crown with victory over England. In the Premier League, a handball claim was dismissed in the stalemate between Chelsea & Manchester United.
Six Nations: Wales Take Triple Crown
Wales handed England their second defeat in three games and took the Triple Crown with a 40-24 win in the Six Nations at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff. The French referee, Pascal Gauzere, was at the centre of the action, controversially awarding tries from Josh Adams and Liam Williams, which helped Wales take a 17-14 half-time lead.
The referee had informed Owen Farrell to speak to his players about ill-discipline. While the England captain was in a huddle with his players, Gauzere blew his whistle, allowing Dan Biggar to take the penalty. Biggar’s kick found Josh Adams, who scored.
Soon after, the referee was again at the centre of controversy when Wales scored their second try. Wales’ wing player Louis Rees-Zammit appeared to knock the ball on when attempting to gather a kick. Liam Williams went on to score a try, which Gauzere deemed legal, much to the disbelief of the England players and the millions of supporters watching the action from home.
Before the break, Anthony Wilson scored a try for England, and with just the three points between the sides, it could have gone either way. Kieran Hardy increased the Welsh lead before Ben Youngs scored for England, and with fifteen minutes to go, the scores were level.
However, Callum Sheedy’s kick and a try from Cory Hill late in the game gave the home side the win that put them on top of the Six Nations standings with fourteen points. France are on nine points but have played a game less. If Wales win their next two games, they will win their thirteenth Grand Slam, equalling the record currently held by England.
Ex-England Martin Johnson, who captained England and Leicester in a career that lasted 16 seasons, said the awarding of the first try was an “appaling decision.”
The Triple Crown is awarded when one of the home nation teams (England, Wales, Ireland or Scotland) beats all the other home nations. Wales last completed a Tripple Crown in 2019, and this is just the fifth time they have beaten all their neighbours this century (2005, 2008, 2012, 2019 and 2021). Wales, with 22 Triple Crown wins since 1883, are above Scotland (10 wins), Ireland (11 wins) but behind England (26 wins).
Wales defied the odds in beating England, much to the delight of the bookies. Pre-game England had been priced @ 1/2, Ireland were 2/1 with the draw priced @ 20/1.
Betfred’s Alan Firkin said of the game: “Six Nations rugby punters who lumped on England to win in Cardiff were left feeling that whatever the acronym, review systems in sport can raise as many issues as they’re meant to tidy up.”
Bookies Love Drab Draw at Stamford Bridge
The best result for the bookmakers in the Premier League this weekend was the 0-0 draw between Chelsea and Manchester United. Draws are always good news for betting companies, but 0-0’s are especially good news as they wipe out all bets placed on goalscoring markets. And as United are the league’s top scorers and Chelsea have invested heavily in attacking players such as Timo Werner, there was plenty of money placed on the over 2.5 goals market.
While the stats show 29 shots in total, eighteen for Chelsea and eleven for United, clear-cut chances were few and far between.
Chelsea enjoyed 57.4% of the possession but lacked a cutting edge up front. United goalkeeper David de Gea saved well from Hakim Ziyech in the second half, and Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy kept out a Scott McTominay shot. Fred went close with a well-hit shot from distance, but the Brazilian’s effort went inches wide. Mendy was once again called into action late on, punching away an effort from Bruno Fernandes, who had a quiet game.
Unfortunately for United fans, Fernandes once again failed to deliver against the ‘Big Six’ this season. The 26-year-old has scored fifteen league goals and made ten assists this campaign but struggles against the bigger clubs. Of the seven games he has played against Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham or Manchester City, the only goal he scored was against Tottenham in United’s 6-1 hammering by the London club.
The biggest talking point from the game was Stuart Attwell’s decision not to award a penalty for United in the first half. Callum Hudson-Odoi appeared to handle the ball in the area and was advised by the video assistant to take a look at the incident on the pitchside monitor. Surrounded by Chelsea players as he viewed the replay, the referee decided not to award the spot-kick.
The result means Chelsea remain unbeaten under Thomas Tuchel after nine games. United are now twenty games unbeaten on the road, but it is a result that doesn’t benefit either club’s remote title aspirations. Manchester United faces Crystal Palace away on Wednesday while Chelsea travels to Merseyside on Thursday to play champions Liverpool.
Pre-game, Chelsea were priced @ 119/50, United 31/10 and the draw 2/1.
Is The Great Escape On For The Baggies?
While Stuart Attwell was at the centre of attention on Sunday, Lee Mason was in the spotlight on Saturday after refereeing West Brom’s much needed 1-0 win against Brighton.
Trailing by an 11th-minute goal scored by West Brom’s Kyle Bartley, Brighton was awarded a free-kick in the first half, and Brighton’s Lewis Dunk appeared to ask the referee if he could take the kick early. Mason blew his whistle for the kick to be taken, and Dunk, who spotted the West Bromwich goalkeeper out of position, took his shot which was goal bound, before Mason blew his whistle again.
Brighton players celebrated the goal before Mason ruled out the goal amid protests from the West Brom players and then changed his mind and allowed it. VAR intervened, and Mason went over to the pitchside monitor to review a possible offside and determine if the ball had crossed the line before he had blown his whistle the second time. He concluded it hadn’t and ruled the goal out for a second time, much to Brighton players’ bewilderment, alongside their manager Graham Potter.
The drama didn’t end there. In Brighton’s last game, a 1-0 defeat by Crystal Palace, the Seagulls had 25 shots on goal but were floored by a sucker punch wonder goal scored late on by Christian Benteke. History repeated itself, having 70.1% of the possession and 15 shots, and they remarkably missed two penalties.
The first was just minutes after West Brom took the lead; Okay Yokuslu handballed, but Gross’s fiercely taken shot cannoned off the crossbar. Gross was fouled by Conor Townsend later in the game, and Danny Welbeck took over on penalty duties, but the former Manchester United and Arsenal man saw his shot thump against the post.
West Brom somehow survived the onslaught, and the three points took them to five points away from Fulham in 18th and, more importantly, nine away from Newcastle and Brighton, who are both tied on 26 points in 16th and 17th. It is still a massive ask for Sam Allardyce’s side, but it gives hope to the Baggies.
In other surprises at the weekend, Leeds United, whose games have had more goals than those involving leading scorers Manchester United, were beaten by Aston Villa. A solitary goal decided that game. Arsenal derailed third-placed Leicester’s title run, winning 1-3 at the King Power Stadium. There were no surprises at the Etihad as leaders Manchester City beat West Ham 2-1 and Liverpool ended their poor run with a comfortable 2-0 win over the league’s bottom club Sheffield United. The reigning champions are in 6th, just two points away from West Ham in 4th.