Just over a year ago, the final four places at a northern hemisphere-based (England) Rugby World Cup were taken up by New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Argentina. Last weekend, South Africa lost to Wales, Australia lost to Ireland and Argentina lost to England and New Zealand could only manage a five-point victory over the unpredictable French. This weekend we see the final fixture of the calendar year, a return match between England and Australia in London. The Sevens circuit also gets underway with the Dubai Sevens live on TV from Friday afternoon. It has been a fascinating year that has seen England remain undefeated (maybe), Hurricanes win Super Rugby for the first time, Fiji won their first ever Olympic medal with a gold in the Rio Sevens, Ireland beat the All Blacks, but New Zealand will remain the best team on the planet, with England quickly approaching .
It has been a topsy-turvy year from a betting standpoint, but I hope you have enjoyed my previews throughout the season. I am hoping to be back next year, but with some Sevens action to carry us through to the RBS 6 Nations and Super Rugby in February, keep an eye on twitter (S15_theprofits). Have a safe and happy holiday season!
Best Bet 1: England 1-12 (vs Australia) @ $2.50 – Sportsbet
Best Bet 2: Dubai Sevens – Outright: South Africa @ $3.50 – William Hill
England ($1.28) vs Australia ($3.70)
The final Test match of the calendar year takes place at the home of rugby (Twickenham) between England and their old foe, Australia on Saturday night. England are looking to achieve the impossible of finishing the season unbeaten, especially after exiting from their own Rugby World Cup last year before the quarter-final stage. Last weekend against Argentina, England put on a brave display beating Argentina 27-14 having played the match with 14 players for 75 minutes. The Wallabies weren’t so lucky, going down an injury-ravaged Irish outfit in a 24-27 thriller.
England (2016): WWWWWWWWWWW
Mako Vunipola, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole, Courtney Lawes, George Kruis, Chris Robshaw, Tom Wood, Nathan Hughes, Ben Youngs, George Ford, Jonny May, Owen Farrell, Jonathan Joseph, Marland Yarde, Mike Brown
Reserves: Jamie George, Joe Marler, Kyle Sinckler, Charlie Ewels, Teimana Harrison, Danny Care, Ben Te’o, Henry Slade
Australia (2016): LLLLLWWLWLWWWL
Scott Sio, Stephen Moore (captain), Sekope Kepu, Kane Douglas, Rob Simmons, David Pocock, Michael Hooper, Lopeti Timani, Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley, Sefanaia Naivalu, Reece Hodge, Tevita Kuridrani, Dane Haylett-Petty, Israel Folau
Substitutes: Tolu Latu, James Slipper, Tom Robertson, Dean Mumm, Sean McMahon, Nick Frisby, Quade Cooper, Henry Speight
England head into this match knowing that they clean-swept Australia 3-0 only four months ago. The home nation has continued to go from strength to strength, but one would have to admit that the Wallabies are a much-improved outfit from the series in Australia. Barbs have been thrown by both coaches this week and all season for that matter, only reiterating the tension that these two have between each other. Eddie Jones certainly holds the upper hand at present, but Michael Cheika could really dent his rivals pride and confidence with a win at Twickenham on Saturday night.
Eddie Jones has made just the two changes for England bringing in the Samoan-born Nathan Hughes for Billy Vunipola at number eight and Marland Yarde has replaced the suspended Eliott Daly on the wing. For Australia, Kane Douglas has been brought back into the starting fifteen to add some mongrel, as has Lopeti Timani who comes in at number eight shifting David Pocock to blindside flanker. Stade Francais have denied Will Genia’s release, which means that Nick Phipps, a player that was successfully targeted by England in Australia, starts in London. The other change sees Sefanaia Naivalu, a real gas man, come in for Henry Speight who was shown up on defense in the last couple of Test matches.
The battle of the breakdown will be key and England are going to target the Wallabies and they will use Ireland’s blueprint to attempt to gain ascendancy. For Australia to win, they have to be able to stand up to England at the set piece, dominate the breakdown and get Israel Folau back into form. Aimless kicks will be punished and ill-discipline will see England keep the scoreboard ticking over. Folau has been searching for tries of late and although he has set up a few of them, he has also blown a few by being selfish or having a bit of ‘white line fever’. There has been talk all week in the media that this is the game that Australia will look to get revenge – what could be worse than four defeats to England in one season. The long and the short of it is that Australia have had a soul-searching and arduous season, whereas England haven’t even hit the midway point of their season. Playing in their own conditions, with their scrum firing and player likes Ben Youngs and George Ford controlling their games so gracefully, your money has to be on the locals, even though the Wallabies won’t go down swinging in what is meant to be a freezing night in London.
Predicted result: England to win @ $1.28 – William Hill
Best Bet: England 1-12 (vs Australia) @ $2.50 – Sportsbet