End of Year Internationals – Week 2 Preview

Super Rugby 2017 Preview | Rugby Union | The Profits

The end-of-year Internationals are back in full swing after a fascinating weekend that has just gone. The story of the weekend without doubt, was Ireland triumphing over New Zealand for the first time in 111 years in Chicago to extend the year of upsets (Hawks, Sharks, Cubs, Leicester, Trump etc.). The Wallabies were clinical in their victory over a hapless Welsh outfit, a second-string Springboks could only manage a draw against the high-flying Barbarians and a young Japanese squad felt the wrath of Argentina in Tokyo. It’s a shame that not all of these matches or even some of the matches this weekend will be televised in Australia, especially given the dwindling state of the game in the country.

This weekend, the All Blacks get a chance to prove that last weekend was just a case of good Irish luck, England host South Africa, Australia travel to Edinburgh to face the Scots and Wales welcome Argentina. The Maori All Blacks are also back at it against Irish provincial team Munster. From a betting standpoint, only one of my four bets cashed last weekend, but I’m confident that we can get some more runs on the board this weekend with three x two-unit plays. Don’t forget to reach out to me on twitter (@S15_TheProfits) for game coverage, expert insight or just for a chat and fingers are crossed for another fascinating weekend of rugby.

Best Bet 1: Maori All Blacks -10.5 (2-units) (vs Munster) @ $1.87 – Tab.co.nz (early twitter play)
Best Bet 2: New Zealand -38.5 (2-units) (vs Italy) @ $1.83 – Sportsbet (early twitter play)
Best Bet 3: Australia -9.5 (2-units) @ $1.80 – Bet365 (early twitter play)
Best Bet 4: Springboks +11.5 (vs England) to win @ $1.90 – Sportsbet
Best Bet 5: Argentina +4.5 (vs Wales) to win @ $2.00 – Bet365 (early twitter play)

New Zealand ($1.01) vs Italy ($46.00)

The first Test match of the weekend sees Italy kick-off their autumn campaign against New Zealand at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Italy haven’t had the best 2016 finishing with the wooden spoon in the RBS 6 Nations after failing to win any of their games. The All Blacks will be hurting after losing their 111-year record of beating Ireland after a 29-40 at Soldier Field in Chicago last weekend. Italy and New Zealand have locked horns on 12 previous occasions, with the All Blacks winning all of them, including a 42-10 victory the last time they played in 2014.

New Zealand (2016): WWWWWWWWWL

Wyatt Crockett, Codey Taylor, Charlie Faumauina, Patrick Tuipulotu, Scott Barrett, Elliot Dixon, Sam Cane (captain), Steven Luatua, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Aaron Cruden, Waisake Naholo, Anton Lienert-Brown, Malakai Fekitoa, Israel Dagg, Damien McKenzie,

Substitutes: Liam Coltman, Joe Moody, Ofa Tunga’afasi, Brodie Retallick, Matt Todd, Aaron Smith, Lima Sopoaga, Rieko Ioane

Italy (2016): LLLLL

Andrew Lovotti, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Lorenzo Cittadini, Marco Fuser, Andries van Schalkwyk, Maxime Mbanda, Simone Favaro, Sergio Parisse (captain), Giorgio Bronzini, Carlo Canna, Angelo Esposito, Luke McLean, Tommaso Benvenuti, Guilio Bisegni, Edoardo Padovani

Reserves: Ornel Gega, Sami Panico, Pietro Ceccarelli, George Biagi, Francesco Minto, Edoardo Gori, Tommaso Allan, Tommaso Boni

Prediction:

One has to feel sorry for the Azzurri this weekend. They are the current wooden-spooners in the RBS 6 Nations and the provincial teams have been performing poorly in the European competitions. There are a number of players in Connor O’Shea’s squad that are yet to face a Haka in their career. They are lucky in the respect that Steve Hansen has opted to rest a number of his stalwarts including Dane Coles, Jerome Kaino, Kieran Read, Beauden Barrett and Ben Smith. Despite that, there is still more than enough class in the squad and I feel they are going to get exposed with the All Blacks putting on the biggest score line of the end-of-year series.

Predicted result: New Zealand to win in a landslide @ $1.01 – Sportsbet
Best Bet 2: New Zealand -38.5 (vs Italy) (2-units) @ $1.83 – Sportsbet

Scotland ($4.00) vs Australia ($1.25)

The Wallabies return to Murrayfield for the first time since 2013 to face a Scottish team that they narrowly beat at last year’s Rugby World Cup (35-34) in a pulsating quarterfinal. The Scots have had a quiet year only playing five fixtures to date with two wins and three losses in the RBS 6 nations (finished 4th overall). The Wallabies will be brimming with confidence after their 32-8 demolition of Wales last week at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Scotland (2016):

Allan Dell, Ross Ford, Zander Fagerson, Richie Gray, Jonny Gray, John Barclay, Hamish Watson, Ryan Wilson, Greig Laidlaw (captain), Finn Russell, Tim Visser, Alex Dunbar, Huw Jones, Sean Maitland, Stuart Hogg

Reserves: Fraser Brown, Gordon Reid, Moray Low, Grant Gilchrist, John Hardie, Ali Price, Pete Horne, Rory Hughes

Australia (2016): LLLLLWWLWLW

Scott Sio, Stephen Moore (Captain), Sekope Kepu, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, David Pocock, Michael Hooper, Lopeti Timani, Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley, Henry Speight, Reece Hodge, Tevita Kuridrani, Dane Haylett-Petty, Israel Folau

Substitutes: Tolu Latu, Tom Robertson, Alan Alaalatoa, Rob Simmons, Will Skelton, Dean Mumm, Nick Phipps, Quade Cooper

Prediction:

Scotland await the Wallabies in front of what should be a record crowd between these two nations at Murrayfield with revenge on their agenda. Unfortunately for the Scots, they have only had a week to prepare for this fixture. Scotland’s New-Zealand-born coach Vern Cotter has selected an experienced line-up with Greig Laidlaw, the prolific goal kicker and scrum half continuing as captain. There are four new faces in the squad this time around with Stormers centre Huw Jones making the cut, alongside flanker Hamish Watson and front rankers Allan Dell and Zander Fagerson.

Last week’s man of the match, flyhalf Bernard Foley put together one of his best performances on a football field, ever. Despite missing a few kicks at goal, his in-play kicking was on point, his passing was crisp and his running game was unparalleled. The Wallaby forwards, Rory Arnold and Adam Coleman in particular, allowed him the front foot ball that he thrives on and as a result, Reece Hodge was able to roam, Tevita Kuridrani was able to use his power and speed and Israel Folau showed glimpses of his best form in the wide channels. It was easily a match that the Wallabies could’ve racked up 50 points, but it was a good enough win to take some pressure off key personnel and coach Michael Cheika.

Unsurprisingly, Michael Cheika has opted for consistency this week, but only making the one change. The Wallabies are strengthened with the return of Will Genia as the match falls within the International Test match window. The weather looks quite bleak in Edinburgh this weekend, but with the Wallabies brimming with confidence and a Grand Slam on their minds, I can’t see Scotland being able to match the Wallabies backs who seem to have found their groove.

Predicted result: Australia to win by double digits @ $1.25 – William Hill
Best Bet 3: Australia -9.5 (2-units) @ $1.80 – Bet365 (early twitter play)

England ($1.20) vs South Africa ($4.50)

The match of the round comes to us from Twickenham in London where England host the Springboks in a rivalry that dates back to 1906. This will be England’s first match of the series after winning the RBS 6 nations (undefeated) and successfully whitewashing the Wallabies in an away series in June. The Springboks appear to be on the other end of the spectrum after having a very poor year and this was capped off last weekend with their ‘A’ team drawing with the invitational Barbarians. South Africa currently holds a proud record over the English having won (with one draw) the previous 11 Test matches dating back to 2006, including seven of those at Twickenham.

England (2016): WWWWWWWW

England: Mako Vunipola, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole, Courtney Lawes, Joe Launchbury, Chris Robshaw, Tom Wood, Billy Vunipola, Ben Youngs, George Forde, Jonny May, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly, Marland Yarde, Mike Brown

Replacements: Jamie George, Joe Marler, Kyle Sinckler, Dave Attwood, Nathan Hughes, Danny Care, Ben Te’o, Jonathan Joseph

South Africa (2016): LWWWLLLWL

Tendai Mtawarira, Adriaan Strauss, Vincent Koch, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Willem Alberts, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Warren Whitely, Rudy Paige, Pat Lambie (captain), JP Pietersen, Damien de Allende, Francois Venter, Ruan Combrinck, Willie le Roux

Reserves: Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff, Lourens Adriaanse, Franco Mostert, Nizaam Carr, Faf de Klerk, Johan Goosen, Lionel Mapoe

Prediction:

England have had this match circled in the calendar all season, given their poor record against the Springboks over the last decade. They are unable to call upon a number of first choice starters including one of World Rugby’s players of the year nominees, Maro Itoje. Looking at the pack named by Eddie Jones, it is tried and tested. Alongside Itoje, George Kruis is also on the sidelines, which puts a lot of pressure on Courtney Lawes and Joe Launchbury, especially at lineout time. The back row is strong, but lacking a genuine fetcher even though there are enough players across the team that can pilfer a ball. Ben Youngs and George Ford continue as the halves pairing with Owen Farrell playing inside of Elliot Daly who will make his first start. Jonny May and Marland Yarde have loads of gas on the wing and Mike Brown is one of the safest fullbacks in the business.

This is a crucial match for the Springboks given the disastrous season they have had. Losses to Ireland, Australia, New Zealand can be somewhat redeemed with a win over the undefeated English. The Springboks need to play a physical game and outmuscle their counterparts. This needs to start with the men up front and Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Willem Alberts have to take matters into their own hands. The pack is a hefty one with physicality the order of the day, but I am interested to see how the Springboks go without a specialist openside, as well as how Warren Whitely goes in the heavier conditions in the northern hemisphere. Crossing and defending the advantage line has to go in the Boks favour if they are to win at Twickenham. Both 9 (Rudy Paige) and 10 (Pat Lambie) and 15 (Willie le Roux) have a crucial role to play in terms of winning the territory battle and this is where the match could well be decided because the Springboks just don’t have the attacking prowess to score from inside their own half at the moment. Although, the recall of Ruan Combrinck does give the visitors an extra attacking weapon.

The Springboks have made a habit of making comebacks this season in the final quarter of matches, but one gets the feeling that England won’t allow them that freedom at Twickenham. By all accounts, Eddie Jones has been putting them through some pretty tough paces in recent weeks to ensure that they are primed for this matchup. Both teams are nowhere near full strength, but it will be a classic Test match, where the winner of the set piece and the team who has the most breakdown dominance will prevail. I hate opposing the Springboks when their backs are against the wall because more often than not they find a way to overcome adversity. England might have too much in the tank for the sizeable Springboks pack in front of what should be a vocal crowd, but I can’t see them winning by double digits.

Predicted result: England to win @ $1.20 – William Hill
Best Bet 4: Springboks +11.5 (vs England) to win @ $1.90 – Sportsbet

Wales ($1.45) vs Argentina ($2.75)

Wales welcome Argentina to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff for the first time since 2013. Wales were simply awful last weekend against Australia, going down 8-32 in front of a strong crowd. Argentina run a youthful Japanese line-up ragged in Tokyo, eventually winning 54-20. Looking at the last five matches played between these two nations, Wales have won four of them, including a 40-6 thumping during their last match in Cardiff in 2013.

Wales (2016): DWWLWLLLLL

Gethin Jenkins (captain), Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Luke Charteris, Alun Wyn-Jones, Sam Warburton, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty, Gareth Davies, Dan Biggar, Liam Williams, Scott Williams, Jonathan Davies, George North, Leigh Halfpenny

Reserves: Scott Baldwin, Nicky Smith, Samson Lee, Cory Hill, James King, Lloyd Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Jamie Roberts

Argentina (2016): WWLLWLLLLW

Lucas Noguera, Agustin Creevy (Captain), Ramiro Herrera, Guido Petti, Matias Alemanno, Pablo Matera, Javier Ortega Desio, Facundo Isa, Martin Landajo, Nicholas Sanchez, Ramiro Moyano, Juan Martin Hernandez, Matias Orlando, Matias Moroni, Joaquin Tuculet

Substitutes: Julian Montoya, Santiago Garcia Botta, Enrique Pieretto, Leonardo Senatore, Tomas Lezana, Tomas Cubelli, Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, Santiago Cordero

Prediction:

Some are describing the first half performance by the Welsh last weekend as the worst first half ever. In the first 20 minutes, Wales had 5% of the ball and ended the first half with just 11% possession. How they didn’t go into the sheds with more of a deficit (3-20) sounds like it should speak volumes of their defense, but it was actually extremely lackluster and the Wallabies just failed to capitalised on their opportunities. Interim coach Rob Howley has made six changes to the team to face this Pumas with four stalwarts in Alun Wyn-Jones, Sam Warburton, Liam Williams and Jonathan Davies all passed fit. More will be expected of Dan Biggar in what will be his 50th cap for Wales, but they will need to be pinpoint accurate against a team that has a point to prove.

Argentina easily disposed of Japan last week Argentina will be looking to prove that their existence in The Rugby Championship is bearing fruit by beating an underperforming, but experienced Welsh outfit. Their strength up front will be tested at the Millennium Stadium and the battle of the back rows will be worth the price of admission alone. The Pumas like to play a helter-skelter brand and the Wallabies showed last week that the Welsh simply can’t handle it at the moment. The Pumas go into this matchup one spot ahead of Wales in the world rankings and although the home team has bolstered their team this week, the Pumas have shown this season that they are a team that no one can take lightly and I expect them to hold Wales at bay in a tight encounter.

Predicted result: Argentina to win @ $2.75 – William Hill
Best Bet 5: Argentina +4.5 (vs Wales) to win @ $2.00 – Bet365 (early twitter play)

Author

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Glenn

Glenn has followed rugby union for 19 years and has expert knowledge on the game freely committing to over 500 viewing hours a year. Having played with and against some current Super Rugby players and International superstars, he understands the game, the players and the laws inside out. Having been born in South Africa, spent time in New Zealand and currently living in Australia, Glenn lives and breathes rugby. With so many different tournaments happening around the world simultaneously and the addition of Rugby Sevens to the Olympic program, there are always plenty of healthy betting options available. An obsession, a passion, call it what you will, Glenn enjoys sharing his insight, opinions and predictions with anyone who wants to listen.

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