June International Test Matches – Week 2 Preview

Best Bet 1: Australia -6.5 (1st Half Handicap) @ $1.85 – Tab.co.nz

Best Bet 2: France +9.5 (vs South Africa) @ $1.91 – Sportsbet

Best Bet 3: England +1.5 (vs Argentina) @ $1.86 – Sportsbet

NEW ZEALAND ($1.00) VS SAMOA ($26.00)

New Zealand will play their first match of the calendar year when they face Samoa at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday. The match will be used as a warm-up for the hosts ahead of next weekend’s first Test against the British Lions at the same venue. It will also be Manu Samoa’s first Test match of the season, with matches against Wales and Tonga to come. The All Blacks and Samoa have clashed on six occasions with the New Zealanders winning all of them, including a 25 – 16 win in Apia in 2015, which was used as a Rugby Championship warm-up match.

Prediction:

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has named an insurmountable team to face the Samoans. The Crusaders fill our four of the first five positions with Joe Moody, Codey Taylor, Owen Franks and Sam Whitelock selected. Brodie Retallick, in my opinion, the world’s best lock will wear the number five jersey with Jerome Kaino, Sam Cane and Ardie Savea forming a dynamic back row. Aaron Smtih has been given the nod at halfback over the inform TJ Perenara and he will partner the world’s best flyhalf, Beauden Barrett in the halves. Sonny Bill Williams will start is first match since the Rugby World Cup Final in 2015 and will play inside of Anton Lienert-Brown. Israel Dagg and Julian Savea will join the All Blacks new captain (for this week), Ben Smith, in a dangerous back three. There is a decent blend of youth and experience on the bench with Hurricanes lock Vaea Fifita and Hurricanes fullback Jordie Barrett, both in line to make their debuts. 

Samoan coach and former All Blacks centre Alama Ieremia has named a strong starting fifteen with 13 players based in Europe, one in Japan and the other in Zealand. Census Johnston, the 36-year-old prop will play his 60th Test match and Super Rugby fans will remember former Chiefs flanker Jack Lam and former Hurricanes backrower Faifili Levave. Kahn Fotuali’i will direct traffic from scrumhalf with Tusi Pisi taking the reins at flyhalf. Alapati Leiua and Kieron Fonotia form a dangerous centre partnership with Tim Nanai-Williams, Albert Nikoro and Ah See Tuala are dynamic back three combination.

I expect Steve Hanson to chop and change a few players throughout the match so the bench is going to get more game time than they usually would. Without giving away all of their secrets, they will look to pick up where they left off last year as quickly as possible. I certainly can’t see it being their most clinical performance, but the players selected have been in exceptional form in Super Rugby and it should be an enthralling encounter. The Samoans will bring the physicality that the All Blacks are looking for, with the hosts hoping that none of their stars go down injured ahead of next week’s first Lions Test. Either way, the All Blacks will be far too strong for Manu Samoa on a ground they haven’t lost at since 1984.

Predicted result: New Zealand to win @ $1.00 – Sportsbet

AUSTRALIA ($1.14) VS SCOTLAND ($5.70)

Test rugby returns to Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Saturday afternoon when Australia hosts Scotland. The Wallabies got their season off to a positive start last weekend with a 37-14 victory over Fiji, courtesy of two tries to fullback Israel Folau. Scotland got their tenure off to the best possible start as well, beating Italy 34 – 13 in a rare International match played in Singapore. Looking at the last twelve matches dating back to the turn of the millennium, Australia has won ten of them, including the last three played in the northern hemisphere, one of which was a RWC 2015 quarter-final.

Australia (2017): W
Scotland (2017): WLWLWW

Prediction:

The Wallabies put together a performance they could be proud of last week given they only had one week of preparation time. They faced a very physical Fijian outfit that were willing to run the ball from anywhere and players like Alan Alaalatoa and Adam Coleman played well beyond their experience in the pack. Will Genia was a calming influence in his return to rugby in Australia and Bernard Foley continues to show why he is the best flyhalf in Australia. Debutant Karmichael Hunt was outstanding on debut leading the defensive line and playing the second playmaker role with distinction. Israel Folau also looked back to his best in what was arguably his best match of the calendar year. It comes as no surprise that Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has made just the one change to the starting 15 this week bringing in the Fijian-born Eto Nabuli for Henry Speight. Nabuli has had a strong season with the Queensland Reds with his speed and his size hard to contain. At the time of writing the bench hasn’t been named leaving Michael Hooper with the captaincy for another week.

Scotland are having a great 2017 having finished tied for second (fourth on points differential in this year’s RBS 6 Nations Championship). Wins over Ireland, Wales and Italy, albeit all at Murrayfield signalled a strong end to Vern Cotter’s tenure in Edinburgh. Last week saw the Scots comfortably down a young Italian team, with Gregor Townsend getting his international coaching career off to the best possible start. This week they face the Aussies without their three Lions: halfback Greig Laidlaw, wing Tommy Seymour and fullback Stuart Hogg. Townsend has made eight changes to the team that outclassed Italy last weekend in Singapore. He has selected an all new front row combination of Gordon Reid, Fraser Brown and Zander Fagerson. Jonny Gray returns to the second row to partner Ben Toolis and John Barclay will lead the side alongside Hamish Watson and Ryan Wilson in the back row. Finn Russell is a mercurial flyhalf but is under an injury cloud and he will be looking to put Duncan Taylor and Alex Dunbar away in the centres. Rory Hughes, Lee Jones and Greg Tonks form an inexperienced back three with just 13 Test caps between them. They do have a strong bench though with the likes of Ross Ford, Willem Nell, Josh Strauss, Ruaridh Jackson and Matt Scott to call upon.

This will be a much sterner Test match for the Wallabies and they will be aware of the last time Scotland was in town (2012), they lost 6 – 9 in torrential rain in Newcastle. That broke an eight-match win streak that the Wallabies had over Scotland in Australia. A more recent and pertinent memory will be when Bernard Foley eliminated the Scots in the quarter-finals of the last Rugby World Cup with an 80th minute penalty goal. It is understandable that the Wallabies are considerable favourites against Scotland given the unavailability of the visitor’s four best players (Richie Gray included). They still field a formidable pack and the Wallabies will need to be physical in their approach and accurate at the set pieces. Once the Wallabies weather the early storm that the ‘bravehearts’ throw at them, I expect Foley, Hunt and Folau to come into their own. I believe there are a number of players on Scotland’s bench that should be starting, so the halftime handicap appeals to me too.

Predicted result: Australia to win @ $1.14 – Sportsbet

Best Bet 1: Australia -6.5 (1st Half Handicap) @ $1.85 – Tab.co.nz

SOUTH AFRICA ($1.30) VS FRANCE ($3.60)

South Africa host France in the second Test match of the series at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday night. Last weekend, the Springboks cruised to a 37 – 14 victory over an understrength Les Bleus outfit, extending their winning streak over the French to three matches.

South Africa (2017): W
France (2017): LWLWWL

Prediction:

The Springboks Lions contingent certainly validated their selections in the first Test match of the year with man-of-the-match Malcolm Marx (hooker aka Bismarck du Plessis 2.0) and Franco Mostert (lock) both putting in huge shifts, and Ross Cronje (one try) and Elton Jantjies’s accurate kicking also paved the way to a good victory. The Springboks bench also built on the starting 15’s momentum with prop Steven Kitshoff and Pieter-Steph du Toit having strong cameos in the pack and the experience of Francois Hougaard and Frans Steyn was invaluable. Coach Alastair Coetzee has made just the one injury-enforced change with Lionel Mapoe replacing the concussed Jesse Kriel. The rest of the match-day squad remains the same.

As expected, French coach Guy Noves has made eight changes to his team this week. In the pack, tighthead prop Rabah Slimani, hooker and captain Guilhem Guirado lock Romain Taofifenua, flanker Kevin Gourdon all return. Number eight Louis Picamoles had a quiet game last week and I expect him to get more involved in Durban. There is a new halves pairing of youngster Baptiste Serin and the experienced Francois Trinh-Duc. Gael Fickou was an excellent replacement for the injured Wesley Fofana last week and he will play inside rising star Damian Penaud, who has had a stellar Top 14 season. The South African born Scott Spedding also returns at fullback.

There are a lot of things to work on for the Springboks, including bolstering their lineout after losing three on their own throw, tightening up their defence after 21 missed tackles and finding a way to control the game better as they only had 42% possession and 40% territory. France did well to pressure the Springboks, but they just failed at the crucial moments in the match to capitalise. I expect the experienced campaigners they have brought in will make this a much more competitive fixture. This will be the real test to start off the Springbok season, as they now play a French outfit who are back to their full complement of stars. The Springboks were good last week, but one game doesn’t make a season and I don’t know if they are capable of facing relentless pressure. I think they will struggle a bit more this week and although I still expect them to win, it will be a very physical and tight encounter that is decided by single digits.

Predicted result: South Africa to win @ $1.30 – Sportsbet

Best Bet 2: France +9.5 (vs South Africa) @ $1.91 – Sportsbet

 

Author

mm

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.

Leave a Reply