Rugby Union Autumn Internationals 2018 Week Two Including England v New Zealand – Previews and Betting offers
Following on from the drama of the first round of Autumn internationals, week two looks even more appetising. The matches on 10th November largely pit the best the Northern Hemisphere has to offer against the powerhouses of the Southern Hemisphere, and there are scores to be settled.
Italy v Georgia – Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence, Kick off: 2:00pm
This match is in some ways the most significant of the day. Georgia currently sit 13th in the world rankings, with Italy one place behind, yet the Georgians currently have no way of unseating the Italians from their place in the Six Nations Championship. A win here would provide an enormous boost to their campaign, especially away from home. The two nations have only met once before, with Italy running out 31-22 winners, but that will count for nothing on Saturday as the Georgians play to remind the world of their quality. Georgia come into the game following five wins in their last six matches, with Italy having lost five of their last six, but this largely reflects the quality of the opposition. In truth, this should be a tight game, with a lot depending upon the legendary Georgian pack, now coached by Graham Rowntree. Italy will be relying on their talismanic number 8, Sergio Parisse, whilst Georgia will be hoping that prolific centre Lasha Malaghuradze is on song.
Scotland v Fiji – BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh Kick off: 2:30pm
Scotland began the Autumn internationals with a defeat in Cardiff against Wales, and will be hoping to bounce back against a Fijian side who will need to adapt quickly to the cool, autumnal conditions. Fiji were successful in the Pacific Nations Cup in June, whilst Scotland have won four of their last six matches, including notable victories over England and Argentina. Fiji will draw inspiration from their 27-22 victory over Scotland in Suva in June 2017, but they will be well aware that the odds are stacked against them this time, with Scotland playing in familiar conditions at home and having played a match the previous week. The Wales game was a personal disaster for centre Huw Jones, whose missed tackles proved costly, so he is unlikely to begin the game against Fiji. Full-back Stuart Hogg, Scotland’s fourth highest try-scorer in history, has recovered faster than expected from an ankle problem and is included in the squad, although he may not be ready to start. Fiji will be looking to Newcastle’s Premiership player of the season Vereniki Goneva and Montpellier’s Nemani Nadolo to provide the tries.
England v New Zealand – Twickenham Stadium, London Kick off: 3:00pm
England were at a low ebb prior to the first Autumn international against South Africa, but a spirited 12-11 victory has changed the mood. There is now plenty of positivity in anticipation of the first clash with the mighty All Blacks since 2014. Historically, New Zealand can point to the fact that England have only beaten them 7 times from 40 attempts. The All Blacks come into the game buoyed by another victory in the Rugby Championship, although they did suffer a rare home defeat to South Africa in September. The New Zealand squad were at Twickenham for the South Africa game, and witnessed England’s dogged physicality first-hand. England coach Eddie Jones has said that, to beat the All Blacks, England will need to be ‘absolutely brutal’ in the forwards, and ‘clinical’ when they get a chance. England will attempt to pressure fly-half Beauden Barrett, and not leave too much space for try-scoring full-back Ben Smith to run into. Owen Farrell’s all-round contribution will be absolutely crucial for England, which is why there was considerable relief when it was confirmed that he would not be punished for his controversial match-saving tackle against South Africa.
Wales v Australia – Principality Stadium, Cardiff Kick off: 5:20pm
This is a chance for the Welsh to overcome the team that have defeated them, often narrowly, 13 times in succession. Australia won just two of their six matches in the Rugby Championship this year, narrowly avoiding the wooden spoon, but still put in some good performances against high-class opposition. Despite away defeats against England and Ireland in the Six Nations, Wales have had a successful 2018, including a positive summer tour. Following the win over Scotland last week, the Welsh are likely to restore Saracens winger Liam Williams to the team, and he is expected, along with the powerful George North, to pose the big try-scoring threat to Australia. Leigh Halfpenny will be expected to pull the strings and kick the goals. The leading international try-scorer in the current Australian squad is full-back Israel Folau, and the Wallabies will expect a significant points contribution from fly-half Bernard Foley. The mercurial Kurtley Beale will also need to be watched carefully by Wales, and the restoration to the squad of veteran winger Adam Ashley-Cooper will provide additional interest. Nonetheless, the Welsh may never get a better opportunity to end their run of defeats against Australia.
Ireland v Argentina – Aviva Stadium, Dublin Kick off: 6:30pm
Ireland will be feeling confident ahead of this clash following their 54-7 destruction of Italy a week earlier. They have enjoyed a successful 2018, with a Grand Slam in the Six Nations, followed by a series win in Australia. Nonetheless, Argentina always offer determined, physical opposition, and do not lack quality. Although the Pumas finished the Rugby Championship with the wooden spoon, gaining two wins from six matches, they should not be underrated. Historically, Argentina have won 8 of their 22 meetings with Ireland, but the Irish will obviously benefit from home advantage as well as having played a match the week before. For the Pumas, the main try-scoring threat seems likely to come from winger Manuel Montero, but the bulk of their scoring is normally done by their all-time leading points scorer, fly-half Nicolas Sanchez . The Irish can rely on the boot of fly-half Jonny Sexton, and winger Keith Earls is a clinical finisher. Leinster’s Jordan Larmour may replace the injured Rob Kearney at full-back. Form and home advantage suggest an Irish victory here, but it will be tough.
France v South Africa – Stade de France, Paris Kick off: 8:05pm
France have had a moderate 2018, finishing fourth in the Six Nations despite defeating England, and then being comprehensively defeated three times on their tour of New Zealand. Nonetheless, there has been promise in some of their performances, and they will hope for a surprise victory against the powerful Springboks. South Africa are also experiencing a steady resurgence, and finished a very respectable second in the Rugby Championship, boosted by their victory in New Zealand. Historically, France have won just 11 times in 43 meetings with South Africa, so they will hope that the confidence of the Springboks has been knocked by their defeat at Twickenham last week. South Africa could not use their European-based players against England. The likes of Sale’s Faf de Klerk and Wasps’ Willie Le Roux are now available to add their skills to the points-scoring prowess of fly-half Handre Pollard and the power of the mighty Springbok pack. France will need to stand up to the South African forwards if they are to have a realistic chance: if they can, the rampaging runs of Mathieu Bastareaud could do some damage.
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