England v New Zealand Rugby Betting

England v NewZealand Rugby Betting Preview, Dec 1st 230pm. All Blacks -14 10/11 sportingbet, England +16 Williamhill

Sky Sports

The last weekend of the Autumn internationals sees England host the world champions at Twickenham, and it’s been an up and down week for the handicaps. The All Blacks started at -17 and -18 in places and have now dropped as low as -14 in sportingbet (which probably won’t last until kickoff). It’s been one of those weeks where momentum with punters has slowly and almost imperceptibly swung England’s way. There’s a couple of possible reasons – Carter wasn’t 100% declared fit, the Hore suspension was hanging over New Zealand, and there’s been a reported bout of food poisoning in the Kiwi camps early in the week; you can read about that here at the BBC. Long-in-the-tooth rugby punters may be remembering the 1995 Kiwi food poisoning episode that arguably cost them the world cup final v the Springboks. Aside from that, there is some residual feeling about that maybe England were unlucky last week against the Springboks, and that perhaps the All Blacks looked tired in the closing stages v Wales. It’s hard to argue with any of those notions, and at first we were quite optimistic that England could put on a decent show here. But then Owen Farrel was named at Out Half, and we scrambled sharpish for a posh berth on the good ship All Black.

Owen Farrell has been named at ten for England in what amounts to the Rugby Equivalent of playing Fernando Torres up front- you know he’s got the talent, but you also know you’re unlikely to see it. The stats speak for themselves- Saracens average less than one try per game every time he starts ahed of Hodgson for Saracens, which is a rare occurrence in itself. Indeed, he’s not even starting at ten for his club, so it begs the question, how will he do against the black pain machine? On top of his less than prolific attacking form, he’s been off form with the boot since May, and his passing game has gone to pot ( though in fairness he has been improving somewhat lately in the Premiership). And to heap more pressure on the undoubtedly talented young man, he was bizarrely named as a contender for Player of the year by the IRB, in a move that has been widely met with wonderment. The IRB either has a huge sense of humour, or they just don’t watch any rugby. Farrell went into the May and June test against South Africa and the Barbarians with huge expectation heaped on his shoulders, and unfortunately he bombed big time. Arguably, he has even more pressure on his shoulders now in a game against the World Champs in which many are touting England as contenders.

Aside from that change, the England team stays the same, and lamentably so. Brown is still out of position on the left wing and Cory Jane should get plenty of change there again, just as he did last week against an out of position Liam Williams on the Welsh left wing – As did much of the All Black backline, in the first half especially. Tuilagi and Barritt continue in the centres, so in the unlikely even the ball gets to them from Farrell, it will probably stop right there. It’s a shame for Chris Ashton that he has very little to work with on the wing for England. He constantly has to come inside looking for ball and when you’re the opposition defence coach, the inside pass he comes looking for time and again (because he has to) has to be one of the easiest things to plan for. Launchbury is still a shining light in the second row and he’ll learn alot from this, and he and Parling were excellent last week, especially in the loose, and England may get some lineout return from on Saturday to go with good carrying. However, Morgan, Wood and Robshaw in the backrow don’t convince, and you’d particularly worry for an ordinary looking Morgan up against Read, McCaw and Messam. Now put those two backrows up against each other in your mind head to head – and who wins? Yep, thought so.

Another issue for England is Corbisiero in the front row. As we said last week, he was done over in the scrum against a young Leicester tighthead in the LV cup two weeks ago. Last week Nigel Owens gave England a few scrum penalties that were completely wrong, with Corbisiero boring in at the side in each instance. Luckily for New Zealand, Dean Ryan even came on the Sky analysis and fair play to him, pointed out the clear illegality of Corbisiero in the scrum. I say luckily, because without that video analysis you’d wonder if referee Clancy Wiggum would be able to pick up on scrum infringements at all.

There’s not a whole lot to say about New Zealand bar Carter’s return at flyhalf. Cruden was immaculate with the boot last week, and Carter will also bring that along with an unrivalled passing game. England have three big boots in their backline (Farrell, Brown, and Goode) and they’ll have to kick alot of ball down the throats of Dagg, Savea and Jane. It didn’t work for Wales last week and it sure as hell won’t work this week – The All Blacks will see plenty of counter attacking ball and New Zealand on the counter will likely tear England to shreds. Savea impressed particularly last week. Previously he has scored plenty of tries, but there was serious intelligence and class about what he did last week, particlarly for the opening try. The tap down to start it off showed serious brainpower, and the passing for the remainder of the move was unreal. He and Dagg should eat England up with the ball sent their way this weekend.

So what about the handicap? There’s three issues that have us going against backing New Zealand on the full handicap. They’re only human and the food poisoning will drain them. They’re only human and they’re at the end of a long season. And three, the England bench deserves respect. Freddie Burns, Jonathan Joseph, Danny Care and even Haskell will all be thrown in around the 55 minute mark (Care should be starting, but we had that whinge last week). All of them will bring pace and hunger to an opposition who slowed down markedly in the second half v Wales, and also have the sickness midweek to contribute to possible fatigue. Freddie burns will be an unknown to them, and he has serious ability – on a hiding to nothing why Lancaster doesn’t start him is beyond me; you need tries to beat New Zealand and Farrell is unlikely to create them. Defensively Burns is not the greatest but he scores tries from nowhere for Gloucester. 9/1 in Paddypower for an anytime try looks generous for a man who will be itching to make an impression for 30 or so minutes; has serious gas ( no he didn’t get food poisoning too- we mean SPEED gas); and space will be available in the closing stages. So the Handicap is just off for us (though New Zealand should still beat the -14/15). We had something different in mind for our main bet.

England v New Zealand main rugby betting

Rather than take on the -14/15 full time handicap, We’ve taken New Zealand -7.5 on the half time no draw handicap, available at evens in bet365 and betfred. The regular half time handicap is available at -7 (which is the same as -7.5) at 10/11 elsewhere, it’s shortening though, and is -8 in most places. The reasoning here is plentiful and simple. First, The All Blacks may tire in the second half for the above mentioned reasons, so we can’t be fully confident on the -14, despite the gulf in class. Second, New Zealand minus 7 at half time would have covered in four of New Zealand’s last six away games (the two that didn’t make it were Italy- NZ leading by 6 at half time, and at South Africa, who were leading by a point at half time before getting blown away). Third – like last week, New Zealand will take their penalties when they come and try to be out of sight by half time, and Farrell hasn’t been great with the boot to keep England in touch. Four, most of England’s tryscoring ability starts on the bench. Five, the All Blacks will want to put this one away early knowing full well they may tire in the second half. And six, New Zealand are simply a far superior team to a poorly picked England side being led by an undermined captain and a coach who has stuck with last week’s media-driven side, in our opinion due to public perception that they were unlucky last week v South Africa.

–Like the Wales game, If you’re with Paddypower, they have a money back special this weekend on all losing tryscorer (first, last, anytime) bets if a number 14 scores the first try. With Cory Jane and Ashton on either right wing, this is a realistic pice of insurance value if you’re backing any of the above anytime tryscorers. Something to bear in mind anyway, and a possible indication that they think Jane is likely to be first tryscorer – nothing like a money-back special to keep paddypower in punters minds with the Heineken cup and Six Nations coming up–

England: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Mike Brown, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 David Paice, 17 David Wilson, 18 Mako Vunipola, 19 Courtney Lawes 20 James Haskell, 21 Danny Care, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Jonathan Joseph.
New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumunia, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Victor Vito, 21 Piri Weepu, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Ben Smith.

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Wales v Australia Rugby Betting

Wales v Australia Rugby Betting Preview, Dec 1st 230pm. Australia -2 Bluesquare 10/11, Wales +4 bwin

Dec 1st 230pm, BBC

**Ian Evans in the Welsh second row has been pulled this evening (Friday) from the the Welsh squad. Lou Reed of Cardif replaces him. GOod luck to Lou Reed, but Wales are now down to the bare bones in cover – Ryan Jones looks to be realistically covering the backrow and second row now. Wales are in trouble if any injuries occur, and in in the second half. Preview remains unchanged below**

This has been a truly nightmarish Autumn series for Wales so far. We expected Argentina to do a number on them but it’s safe to say almost everyone was surprised when Samoa beat them two weeks ago. That was the one they really needed to win to stay in the second tier of the world cup group seedings, and a loss to Australia will leave them in tenth, and guaranteed to be in a tough group for the 2015 world cup. So with that in mind, you’d say ‘motivation is with Wales, they have to get it together this week, everything is on the line’. You’d be right to assume that, but if you take your mind beyond reasonable assumption and search for hard evidence, you’ll have a tough time coming up with anything concrete. Plus, Australia have a big motivational boost of their own in addition to finishing second in the world rankings; It’s Nathan Sharpe’s last game in a Wallaby shirt and a resurgent Australia will surely give everything so he can finish on a high.

As George Bush once famously tried to say, “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me”. We were fooled that Wales could turn it on against Samoa, and we’re wary of being fooled again here based on blind optimism and belief that Wales will get it together finally. They’re down to their fourth or fifth choice tighthead (19 year old on the bench); Williams on the left wing is a full back and was exposed last week at times; Roberts is unlikely to last the first half with the injuries he’s carrying; Priestland is at ten by default; Cuthbert has huge defensive issues; according to Gatland Phillips isn’t fit from being in France; Shingler is inexperienced in the backrow; and Ian Evans is fighting injury in the second row. To top that all off, there’s very little impact on the bench for Wales – and i’d imagine if Biggar was actually fit after the Samoa incident, he would be starting here and not filling out the bench. If Wales win this it will be a big surprise to us, considering the injuries, the losing run, and the lack of confidence that has to be everywhere in the squad. Even the recent wet weather is seemingly against Wales this week – it has been dry throughout and will probably be right up to kickoff when the roof will be closed anyway. A bit of wet weather would have suited Wales during the week to muddy up the Cardiff pitch, for an Australian side notoriously poor in wet conditions. When it rains it pours (or doesn’t, in this case).

Australia are not without their own injury problems, but they welcome back the world class Pocock from injury. He takes the place of Hooper, who many will see as being a little hard done by to not be starting the game after a series of excellent international performances. Kane Douglas comes in for Timani and won’t weaken the side, especially in the loose. And Polota Nau returns after supposed injury against Italy – we don’t buy that though and he was almost definitely rested with this game in mind. This game is one of the rare occasions where you can look at an Australian scrum and expect it to have the better of it’s opposition. This is something Australia rarely have, so you don’t often realise how lethal they are off clean first phase ball. The backs ripped Wales apart on the rare occasions they had it during the summer, and they used it well whenever they had it in the Rugby Championship. Some of the impact from the bench for Australia also far exceeds what Wales have to offer (Stephen Moore, James Slipper, Michael Hooper, Mike Harris, Digby Ioane) and that quality on the bench is likely to be the winning and losing of this game.

Both of these sides know each other so well after the June series, with Australia winning all three games by 7, 2 and 1 points. The difference this weekend is that Wales have lost so many to injury, and are carrying a number of injuries in the starting 15. Familiarity will serve Australia better than Wales here, as Australia have a much more settled look about them and are in a better position to expose the Welsh. Australia were hammered by France in the muck initially but they battled to a win against England, and that England side is stronger than this Welsh one. You have to go back to 2008 to find a game where Australia didn’t beat a 2 point handicap away from home against Wales, And 2005 before that three point loss.

Australian coach Robbie Deans was quoted during the week as saying Australia were running on empty for this game, but that should be taken with a pinch of salt. They clearly saved Polota Nau for this game, and they most definitely took their foot off the gas against Italy to conserve energy. They come into this relatively fresh compared to Wales, and it’s hard to see them not coming away with a comfortable enough win here.

Wales v Australia rugby betting

We’ve already taken the -2 on Australia still available in Bluesquare. If you don’t have a bluesquare account you can get Australia -2.5 on the no draw handicap for 5/6 in Ladbrokes.

Since the turn of the millenium, these teams have played each other fifteen times, with Australia winning twelve times, losing twice, and drawing once. Of those twelve wins, NINE of them have been by 1-12 points, and every away win bar one has been by 1-12 points. So there’s strong evidence for an Australian win by 1-12 points, with the biggest price a miserable 13/8 in Ladbrokes ( 6/4 everywhere else). For us, that price is too small, and thinking back to Argentina’s 14 point win here, who is to say Wales won’t completely implode again? We wouldn’t tell someone not to back the 1-12, especially if you want to lower your stake and increase your returns. But you’re also increasing risk, as there’s a decent enough chance Australia could do some serious damage here where Argentina’s backs couldn’t, but working out whether they’ll want to mentally is impossible. The better, more conservative bet at 10/11 is the -2/3, as Australia have far more bankable firepower and will want to finish the season on a high.

In short, there’s just no viable reason that we can see for backing Wales here even with a three point start. With a stronger side that took a relative break last week in Italy, Pocock returning, and Nathan Sharpe’s retirement looming large, Australia will want to go out with a bang and drive the nail home this weekend. A 2/3 point handicap should be comfortably beaten against a Welsh side with nothing going for it.

Possible Tryscorer punts
Drew Mitchell is up against Alex Cuthbert on the wing and is biggest 12/5 anytime try in paddypower and 11/1 for first try. Cuthbert has looked awful defensively in the past three tests- falling off tackles everywhere, and he seems to always need help to bring someone down. No commentators have mentioned it, but watch him this weekend an you’ll see what we mean. Either the anytime or first try appeals here for Mitchell on the left wing.

**If you’re with Paddypower, they have a money back special this weekend on all losing tryscorer (first, last, anytime) bets if a number 14 scores the first try. With Cuthbert and Cummins in both number 14 jerseys, this is a realistic piece of insurance value if you’re backing any of the above anytime tryscorers.**

Nick Cummins is looking for three in a row this weekend and is also 12/5 anytime try. His direct running at out of position Williams on the other wing could cause problems.

And lastly, Nathan Sharpe
is 66/1 first try in Ladbrokes, and 14/1 anytime try in there too. Either one of these is worth a fiver for value, as Sharpe has form and knows where the tryline is. Sharpe will most definitely have his eye on a try with this being his last ever Australian cap, and it would be such a fitting occurrence for such a great servant to the game; he was probing the English line 2 weeks ago quite a bit too. I just have a strong feeling he’ll rumble over at some point, and his team-mates will be looking to play him in whenever they can surely – maybe go with the anytime 14/1 and don’t be greedy!

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (c), 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Ian Evans, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Ryan Jones, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Scott Williams.

Australia: 15 Berrick Barnes, 14 Nick Cummins, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 James Slipper, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Dave Dennis, 20 Michael Hooper, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Mike Harris, 23 Digby Ioane.

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Premiership Rugby Betting – Round ten

Premiership Rugby Betting Previews round ten

Saturday Premiership Rugby Betting
Leicester v Bath, Sat 1st December, 1230 ESPN. Leicester -6 Stanjames, Bath +7 everywhere
Saturday morning, have a lie in, turn on the TV, and see the marquee game of the weekend from the Premiership at 12:30 in the afternoon. I tell you, it’s a nice way to wake up for a rugby fiend. After three tries from nothing last night in the first half, our main bet lost in the final two minutes with a late Sale try. However, had you been following in the forum, a few of us were on Saints/Quins 1-12 double, which that late Sale try brought home. The lesson? Pay attention in the forum!

Moving onto today’s early game, and i’m going to push the boat out here and say Bath could win this game. What? Well yes, they could win it, and i’ll be putting my money where my mouth is. Why?

Leicester were beaten last week by Wasps in a poor game they still should have won. Ford missed some easy enough kicks that had some pressure on them, and tomorrow he’ll have plenty of those to deal with. Leicester will need to take their kicks because their backs are far from fluid (as pointed out in the forum Tait is still finding his feet at full back), and with a potentially wobbly goalkicker tomorrow a depleted Tigers side have to be opposed. Murphy is on the bench as backup full back but I don’t think he came on last week, and he may not be ready yet. Looking at the Leicester bench there’s also very little experience and quality there to finish out this game.

The Leicester scrum should have the upper hand on balance, but Castrogiovanni and Ayerza are not the almighty world beaters they’re made out to be. We expected Perenise to fold last week in the scrum against Quins but with James back he played well. The backrows look even enough, and with Bath having two groundhogs in Mercer and the excellent Francois Luow, they should turnover plenty of ball on wet ground from rain overnight (dry weather is forecast for the game).

There’s just far more punch in this Bath side, and from 10 to 15 Bath have proven tryscorers – Donald, Biggs, Banahan, Agulla, Eastmond and Abendanon. The Bath bench has more impact and experience aswell. Leicester are missing their entire starting backline, elements of the pack, a dependable kicker….the price is just too big on Bath.

Overall Leicester are favourites here because Leicester have their reputation, and Bath haven’t beaten them there in something like ten years. But if you line them up 1-15, i’d take every one of Bath’s backline and maybe three of their forwards over the Tigers, and i’d take most of their bench aswell.

Sometimes you have to forget convention and back the better team on paper despite away form and home reputation. One last important note – Agulla was dropped by Leicester for some unknown reason at the end of last season and shipped off to Bath. It looked a mistake then and it looks a major mistake now for sure. He’ll be one man revving his new Bath team mates up for a win here tomorrow and he’ll have a serious point to prove. He’s all class, and at 11/2 to score a try anytime in Coral (as low as 5/2 elsewhere) he’s well worth a small interest.

There’s three bet’s we’ve invested in;

Main bet Bath to beat Leicester by 1-12 points is biggest 10/3 in Bet365 and we have a medium stake invested. As above, Bath are the better side tomorrow, and these two have plenty of rivalry left – Bath won’t get a better chance for a long time to beat them, and the early start might help them catch them cold.

Other value punts we also have a small bet on Leicester half time/ Bath full time at a very big 10/1 in Paddypower and Ladbrokes. As above, Bath held Quins off right up to the death last week, and with the way both benches look Bath should finish the stronger. Bath ht/ft is also 4/1 in Paddy Power and skybet, and we have a small interest in that too – If bath get ahead it’ll be hard for Leicester to reel them back in.

Head over to the Rugby Betting forum for views on the rest of the weekend’s games and to join the discussion and contribute. All are welcome and you can choose your own team/country crest.

Friday Rugby Betting

Sale Sharks v Northampton Saints, Fri 30th Nov, 19:45 ESPN. Sale +5 10/11 Ladbrokes, Northampton -3 5/6 Stanjames
According to the BBC weather forecast this game is set to be played in pretty heavy fog, and there’s heavy fog up there already. While wind and rain will always affect sports, Fog brings a whole new dimension to proceedings, and generally it keeps the scores down – you can’t see attacking opportunities, and you can’t see the posts on long range kicks! There’s a small chance this may even be called off so we won’t go too deep into this preview.

The Northampton pack is undoubtedly better than Sale’s on paper but they were better than London Welsh too last week and couldn’t put them away. Sale name as strong a side as they have had out recently, and are definitely improving. No matter how many big names Northampton have in their team, I can’t back them away from home, and likewise Sale haven’t convinced enough to make the +5 worth it, though it is tempting. Ben Foden is just back from Injury and you’d expect plenty of high balls jammed up in the fog by Sale to try to catch him cold. And he will be cold, along with the other 29 players because freezing fog is freezing fog no matter how much you’re running around.

We’re backing mother nature tonight- Under 40.5 points in Bet365 (the only one with under 40.5 available at 10/11). As we said the fog should keep scores down, and there’s a decent stat to back this bet up – of ten games so far in the Premiership on Friday nights only three have gone over the 40 point mark, and none in the past 4 weeks when defences have strengthened and become more coherent. The over 40 point Friday games involved Sale, London Irish and London Welsh in the early rounds before they found their feet and got their defences together. It’s not an exciting punt, but you may as well get paid for watching fog tonight.

More to follow

Don’t forget to head over to our new Rugby Betting forum to join the discussion and contribute. There’s already plenty of discussion and winning rugby tips. All are welcome and you can choose your own team/country crest.

Wales v NewZealand Rugby Betting

Wales v NewZealand Rugby Betting Preview, Nov 16 730pm. All Blacks -17 Betfred 10/11, Wales+19 bwin, Sat 24 Nov, 17:15 GMT


*** Dan Carter has now been named out of Saturday’s game, which was unexpected to say the least. Handicap has comedown by a point in places but still standing around 18, Cruden is an able replacement although he hasn’t been at his best recently. Preview below still stands, but don’t go full stake on it, and wait until an hour before the game if you can as late money could come for Wales and give you more value with a smaller All Black handicap.***

There have been some pincer-like market movements during the week for this game, closing in around -18 for New Zealand as handicap consensus across most online bookmakers. First Paddypower came out at -17, which was quickly snapped up and pushed to -18, then Bwin put -20 up as their starting point and have subsequently contracted to -19. The head to head stats suggest that this game will be won by around 25 points for New Zealand so the bookies look to be possibly expecting a bit of a Welsh backlash, against themselves as much as New Zealand. You could be fooled into thinking there was a bit of money coming at Bwin for Wales – but I have my doubts, it looks like a marketing differentiation exercise to me. Perhaps there’s alot of patriotic punters in Wales who have waded in here, hoping that the weight of their cash and sentiment might somehow tip the balance of power their way (i’m not knocking it, i’ve done it myself in the past). Maybe there’s a quiet whisper they’ll be leaving the roof open for the rain to pour on through and disrupt Kiwi continuity – the rain worked for Ireland. Perhaps the Welsh are planning on asking the Kiwis to do the Haka in the dressing room again, and springing Micheal Flatley (or Tom Jones) from a closet somewhere to disrupt their Island rythms. Alas, I fear a hurricane wouldn’t be enough to quench the Black torches from Mordor en route to slaying the Dragon this weekend.

It’s all about motivation. The Kiwi coach Hansen has been stirring the shit big time all week in reference to Edward’s remarks about New Zealand being ‘ there for the taking’ in last year’s world cup final. (To be honest, we agree – they were – but that’s beside the point). The All Blacks have been handed a nice extra dollop of motivation for a game they seemed to be already targeting. The last two games have been slightly experimental lineups v Italy and Scotland, so you get the feeling that Hansen has been winding things up long before this week’s press conferences. After two good thirty point plus runouts against Scotland and Italy, they have a fully blooded squad all itching to put Wales in their place, and you have to wonder how they’re going to be stopped.

Last year Wales were being talked up as serious challenge to All black domination in the medium term, and few people were bold enough to shout it down. That world cup semi loss to France was yet another close loss when Wales should have won ( two more v Australia during the summer), and the recent five defeats in a row will have really taken their toll mentally – it’s a slippery slope- one minute you’re drinking on your own after a row with the missus, the next you’re stumbling through a packed morning tube train with no trousers on. When it rains it bloody pours.

We expected a shock against Argentina, but the loss to Samoa seems to be a glaring statement that all belief is lost in Welsh rugby at the minute. There seems to be some notion around that Wales are going to pull a performance out of the bag here but if they were ever going to do that it would have been the last two weeks, when ranking points were more likely to be gained, and more costly to lose. Instead they’ve looked lethargic and just not interested to be frank. The games v Argentina and Samoa have blown away the oft-quoted notion that Wales are the fittest side in the Northern hemisphere for one thing. They’ve had precious little go forward and Samoa continually drove back a huge Welsh backline. It’s almost as if this black Kiwi cloud has been festering on the edge of their subconscious for a month, like an upcoming visit to the dentist for a route canal, or a long talked about visit to your new girlfriend’s parent’s house – either way you know that they know what you’ve been up to, and you’re expecting the worst – you lose your mojo.

That’s how Wales have looked recently, but is it only recently? The following paragraph won’t be pretty reading for our Welsh friends but remember, there’s money at stake, so these things have to be discussed. If we go back to the start of this year and look sideways at the six nations Welsh glory, you can find some holes. Ireland stupidly relaxed and let slip a lead with five minutes to go and Wayne Barnes did the rest (correctly I might add – controversial that!). Then a beautiful (lucky?) bounce of the ball did it for Wales against England. Were the other five nations teams just really bad last year or were Wales just that good? I must say at the time I thought the latter, but now I’m not so sure. The three summer test losses against an average and rusty Aussie side and the two recent losses have firmly turned 2012 into a coffin-dodging exercise for Wales. Can they break out of the funk-box with a one-inch punch to glory against the All Blacks?

Eh, no. And they probably know this, and have known it all summer – so looking at the handicap you just have to ask yourself will Wales have a crack at being valiant runners up- or CAN Wales have a crack at being valiant runners-up? Well, there’s scant evidence to say so. Wales are rudderless- Warburton is again captain after being benched last week for Tipuric, and if it didn’t work against Argentina in a 14 point loss, why would it work against the All Blacks? Ryan Jones, a man we touted as potential saviour, was awful last week and not at the races giving away lots of penalties; Samoa missed kicks last week – it could have been worse. The scrum with Jarvis in it is just not functioning, and it’s to be expected that the All Blacks will see alot of penalties from it. The lineout is looking thin on the pitch and on the bench, but Charteris might bring some Perpignan form back with him. Priestland and Phillips brings to three the number of halfback combinations that Wales have tried this Autumn, and there’s no reason to think this one will stand up to scrutiny – there’s a couple of eager fly halves at the Dragons that would do a better job than Priestland in current form, and his form for the past year really (no disrespect to the mighty Dragons). How he’s starting even ahead of Hook is a mystery – you don’t get career defining form change at home to the best team on the planet. And the Welsh backline was again inept last week, with Cuthbert and North being exposed in defence yet again. It looks sadly bleak. The one hope for Wales is Davies back in the centre – he’s a big intelligent part of what makes them tick. But he hasn’t played in five weeks and won’t be match fit. Unless Gatland has brought back some magic beans from his leave, we just cannot see where Wales can stay with the All Blacks.

New Zealand haven’t named their team as time of writing, but expect it to be full strength – we don’t need to go through the constituents, they’re the best in the business right now, it’s that simple. Good news for neutrals everywhere is that the awesome Israel Dagg is very likely back at full-back, and with Wales likely to try to use a kicking game to get North and Cuthbert in behind the All Blacks, there should be plenty of classy counter attacking.

This game could be out of site before Wales even realise it, with scrum penalties a likely contributing factor. The only question for us before wading in here was weather New Zealand would be motivated enough to beat an 18 point cap at a wounded Wales. But the clear answer to that question is yes. They’re the type of side that revels in humiliation and unfortunately for Wales they will try to put them in a nasty hole on the end of a hiding. Argentina and Samoa had more chances than their scores let on. The difference with the All Blacks is that they put those chances away. When will their reign of terror end ?! Oh, the humanity!

Main Rugby bet

Take New Zealand -17 still only still available in Betfred. Everything points to a big Welsh loss. This handicap will get pushed to -18 and 19 by the time Saturday rolls around so don’t leave it too late. There’s also -16.5 available there at 4/5. There’s very little reason other than hope to think that Wales can hold out here, and you’d expect New Zealand to beat this handicap and then some. This could get ugly. (One man we know has ten quid on New Zealand to win by 51+ at 34/1 in Betfred (all the best prices are happening at Betfred this week it seems – maybe they’re going out of business).

Tryscorer bet– prices are out now and either of the wingers Jane or Savea are solid punts for any time tryscorer. Both priced around evens ( Jane is 5/4 in williamhill). Israel Dagg is just as likely to score as those two and he’s 6/4 in ladbrokes and Boylesports. Dagg feeds off breaks by the forwards and centres better than the others too.

Don’t forget to head over to the betting forum for discussion on all of this weekend’s other games, including the Rabo pro12 and Premiership full schedules.

Betfred Sport

Wales team: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Ryan Jones (capt), 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Gethin Jenkins, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Aaron Shingler, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 James Hook, 23 Scott Williams.

Don’t forget the Skybet free no deposit tenner bet and free fiver bet every week offer ends Dec 7th
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Rugby Betting Previews – Premiership Round 9

Premiership Rugby Betting Previews – round nine

Sunday – See forum here



Gloucester v Sale Rugby Betting (12 noon ESPN)

Quins let us down last night and there’s a trend starting to develop with form favourites losing away on Friday nights across the leagues. Keep an eye on that- there’s a definite atmosphere boost for home teams on Friday nights lately. Quins turned down a kick to the corner with 5 minutes to go and instead went for the posts, which was a bit galling, a chargedown that trickled over the Bath line minutes before that sort of told us it wasn’t going to be our night.

You can get Gloucester -9 in Ladbrokes, and Sale +11 in Skybet. Moving on, and the slightly bizarre time of 12 noon sees Gloucester entertain Sale. Sale name a strong side and there’s not much to dwell on here – they just beat London Irish at home and they’ve found a small bit of form (1 win). Gloucester will be buoyed after a ballsy display away at Quins with a late try earning them a bonus point few people expected, losing in the end by three points. Burns and Cowan start, Hamilton and Sharples are back from international duty, and Kalamifoni in for Morgan won’t weaken things. Sharples, Cook and Monahan all look very dangerous in space and Sale will find it hard to shut them down. Gloucester look the far better side here – backs, halves, lineout and scrum, and despite Sale’s mini revival, they’re still on a terrible overall run.

The problem with this handicap tomorrow is the weather – it’s expected to be a downpour from 12pm. Rather than back the outright handicap, there’s a different angle i’m looking at for this one.

In all of Sale’s previous away games in the premiership so far this season, they have been losing at half time by 8(worcester), 9(Bath), 6(Quins), and 20+(Exeter). And in Gloucester’s home games (discounting day one when they lost heavily) they’ve been winning by 7 v Wasps, and 6 v Leicester at half time. They were losing at half time to Bath in a game they went on to win by 6 points.

Main Bet- the half time handicap is -5 across the board- best price evens in ladbrokes, and this would have come in for every game Sale have played away so far this season (see above) . I’m not crazy about the full match handicap as Sale haven’t been finishing games too badly lately and the weather may put a dampner on Gloucester getting too far ahead. Medium stakes.

Northampton v London Welsh betting, 1pm, not televised.

Northampton name a strong side, great pack, Welsh name a decent one. Northampton will probably beat this cap but no bet here- i’d say the result will be either bang on the handicap or two points either side. Awful weather again, and Northampton often fail to put teams away. The bet would be Northampton 11-20 but at odds of no bigger than 11/4 we’re not interested. The -8 halftime handicap appeals in Betfred (-10 elsewhere) simply because Northampton usually start strong in these type of games and fail to put them away, so we might stick that on an accumulator of some sort tomorrow. Very small money though.


Bath v Harlequins Betting (745 pm Sky sports1)

The Premiership serves up a nice side dish to the weekend’s international main course, and there’s two games on each day of the weekend to keep things ticking over. This will be a rolling thread for the weekend’s games- nothing over medium stakes with so many players away on international duty. Bear in mind that the bookies were bang on last week on the LV handicaps, so much so that they got an overwhelming amount of the handicaps within two or three points of the final result. With similar team profiles this week, keep an eye on margin prices for value.

Quins travel to Bath tonight and it’s another one of those games that the bookies are somewhat divided over. Bath are favourites or scratch everywhere, and there’s still plently of +1 available on Quins with Ladbrokes and Bet365. Quins arrive with the better pack, and the better 9/10 with Dickson and Evans in much better form than Classens and Donald. Banahan in the centres for Bath is much less threatening than Banahan on the wing, and Turner-Hall and Hopper should be able to handle him. Overall the backs from 11-15 will cancel each other out probably and there’s plenty of wet weather around to keep the ball firmly with the forwards. Back to the Quins pack, and the front row, lineout and backrow all eclipse anything Bath have to offer on recent form. Nick Easter is at eight and will bring mountains of experience and plenty of go-forward for Quins -he should be playing for England this weekend he’s that good.

As mentioned, there has been torrential rain in England and the Bath pitch, while playable, will likely be a mudbath. There will be plenty of scrums tonight and with Perenise in the front row ( yellow carded early recently for persistent scrum infringments) Quins will see plenty of penalties here. For the better Quins pack and the scrum situation favouring Quins, and Bath form meaning they simply can’t be trusted with a bet, we’re siding with the champions Quins to bring home the bacon.

Rugby Betting

– It’s hard to see Quins win this by more than 12 with the conditions, so rather than take the +1 available, we’ve reduced our medium stake and gone for Quins by 1-12 points, biggest in Williamhill at 2/1 (7/4 elsewhere). Other than that, for small stakes – ‘any result involving a draw’ (half time or full time) is 8/1 in Paddypower and i’ve seen worse bets with the conditions tonight. No tryscorer is 17/1 in Boylesports and Williamhill, and with Bath on low tryscoring stats, and Quins there just for the win, and the poor conditions this looks a bit of a goer- it’s as low as 12/1 elsewhere. This bet still wins if there’s a penalty try, which is eminently possible.

More to follow

Don’t forget to head over to our new Rugby Betting forum to join the discussion and contribute. There’s already plenty of discussion and winning rugby tips. All are welcome and you can choose your own team/country crest.

Scotland v South Africa Rugby Betting

Scotland v South Africa Rugby Betting, South Africa -9 Stanjames, Scotland +11 victorchandler

Nov 17, 230pm GMT, BBC1

I have an odd feeling about this game. Based on last week and recent results you wouldn’t expect South Africa to run up a big score but they might just surprise alot of people this weekend. The game against Ireland was a dire affair and while they were rusty, South Africa were very negative and seemed intent on trying to take out the Irish players rather than just play the game. It gave the impression that South Africa were genuinely worried last week that they might lose. Had Sexton made that penalty just before half time they may indeed have lost – Ireland got cagey with only a 9 point lead though, and the rest is history.

One notable point about last week was Ireland’s inability to score a try (or even get near scoring one), with a very useful looking backline. After any initial minor breaks or go forward by Ireland, South Africa simply smothered any chance of further inroads. There were a couple of occasions where Ireland put some phases together but they were never really going anywhere. I’m comparing the backlines of Ireland and Scotland and I see no step up in class facing South Africa this week. There’s always Tim Visser but will he get the turnovers to score this week? I’m not sure. Plus, if last week is anything to go by, South Africa will probably target him like they did key Irish players last week – we all saw Pietersen’s yellow on Chris Henry (who had been having a great game up to the point he was nearly cut in two), and Johnny Sexton had to take it all game, from knees in the head to late charges off the ball. As Duckysauce said in our forum, Laidlaw will get the same treatment this Saturday and I’m not sure he’ll withstand it as well as Sexton did. The backup on the bench at ten for Scotland is very thin too.

In the forwards it’s also looking slightly bleak for Scotland. The South African pack will have shaken off the rust they had last week, and it’s far bigger than Scotland’s. Geoff Cross starts on the bench, and he was possibly Scotland’s best player last week. The All blacks simply had no answer to him on the burst and he was a huge reason they were able to compete last week in so many facets of the game. He’s on the bench because he’s carrying an injury, and you’d wonder whether he’ll get a run at all – it’s unlikely. Euan Murray starts in the front row and while he has had some great games in the past against South Africa, it will likely be a different story this weekend based on his form of the last two years and you fear for the Scottish scrum in general. To compound matters, gnarly backrow Strockosch (formerly of Gloucester, now part of a resurgent ball-playing Perpignan side) has been pulled as of Friday afternoon due to injury. He’s the man that Thompson semi-head-stamped last week, he’s a black-belt kung-fu master, and he’s well able for the rough stuff. Scotland will miss him, and it definitely weakens their back-row reserves against a powerful South African unit. Indeed the Scottish bench is nothing to write home about in general when you take the above into account. There’s very little impact and that’s a concern for the second half. The South African team is as strong as last week, but has a better front row with Steenkampf coming in. And the bench has plenty of impact – Heinke VDM and Brits coming in the front row on when things loosen up will cause alot of problems for Scotland. In our eyes, starting Steenkampf instead of the others means they intend to milk the scrum to get out in front early.

There’s three avenues that we deliberated over on this game. South Africa -9, South Africa 1-12, and South Africa half time handicaps. The stats in general point to South Africa eeking out a win of less than 12 points, and for them to start well and then to not have a great second half. This is based on the rugby championship in general, Scotland losing tight games to both England and France in the six nations, and on South Africa’s three games against England in June, where despite total dominance in the first half South Africa just weren’t arsed playing in the second.

On balance most of Saturday’s probabilities point to South Africa winning by 1-12 points but it’s a bet i’m not comfortable with as I reckon South Africa could really bludgeon their way even further ahead here. There’s revenge in the air, and like we said last week, it has played a big part in many games recently- look at France for example against Australia.

Main bet – (Medium stakes) Because of the scrum situation and because they won’t want to start off like last week, we’re taking South Africa -5 on the half time handicap at evens in Stanjames. It’s -5 everywhere else at 10/11 and you can get -4.5 in Bet365 at 4/5 if you don’t mind the return reduction for a point more safety. Looking at Scottish replacements there’s a line of thinking that the second half handicap of -5 would be the better pick but South Africa simply ease off in the second half of games, especially if they’re winning. This brings the SA 1-12 into play but you couldn’t count on Scotland reeling them back in again, and they may not get the turnover opportunities they got last week that brought two of their tries. It’s a bit of a minefield trying to figure out South African mentality, but after last week’s poor start, the best bet looks to be to expect a good South African first half as usual, and to not invest at all in an unpredictable second half, in which anything could happen.

Small stakes Tryscorer punt – Schalk Brits should come off the bench in the second half and he’s lethal in space. If things do loosen up (which they should) he’s a decent shot for last tryscorer, and he’s biggest 25/1 in Paddypower. Visser anytime tryscorer is a minor temptation but every single Scottish player has drifted out in price in Paddypower for the anytime tryscorer market so they don’t seem to be expecting any Scottish tries at all. Indeed, under 1.5 Scottish tries is as low as 4/9 in Ladbrokes.

Wales v Samoa Rugby Betting

Wales v Samoa Rugby Betting Preview, Nov 16 730pm. Wales -9 10/11 bluesquare, Samoa +11 evens, ladbrokes.


We were quite Bullish about Argentina’s chances versus Wales last week, we said back them +11, and we said they might even win the game – and we’re still annoyed at ourselves for not backing the straight win. It’s quite refreshing from a betting perspective when things don’t go the way the bookies are telling us they will, and it makes your balls grow Biggar for when the next raid grows near. They mightn’t yet be big enough to back Samoa though.

Wales have made plenty of changes, the main one being Ryan Jones back in as captain. We said last week he was a huge loss and so it proved. He always seems to pop up when Wales are in need and they are indeed in need this weekend. Wales are in clear and present danger of slipping out of the top 8 should they lose this game and if other results go a certain way across the remainder of the Autumn tests. Hence this has become something of a must-win game for them. Other notable changes are the under performing Scarlet’s halves Knoyle and Priestland relegated to the bench, and in steps kicking maestro Biggar, and Mike Phillips. Warburton is replaced by a man who is on far better form – Tipuric, who could realistically take Warburton’s starting berth for the upcoming 6 nations at seven if he stays injury free. Bradley Davies returns in the second row and will bring some badly needed dog and go forward back into the side.

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Ashley Beck, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Ryan Jones (capt), 5 Ian Evans, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Gethin Jenkins, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Luke Charteris, 20 Sam Warburton, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Scott Williams.

Samoa name a side with a bit of quality, the players in bold below being the standouts – the backrow is useful if all of a quite similar style. Treveranus has been playing some good stuff for London Irish, but you’d fancy the Welsh backrow over all of them, except maybe Faleteau who has been quiet enough so far this season. There are a few weak points, there’s not much on the Samoan bench, and we think Lemi (who is small enough) at captain is possibly a bad choice. Lemi scored a great try for Worcester recently but he has slowed down the last year or two, and against a huge Welsh backline you’d expect him to be targeted from the off. Tusi Pisi at ten didn’t kick all of the goals against Canada either (that was So’iola, who is banned for this game), and while he’s had a few games in Super rugby he won’t bring the surety from the kicking tee that Samoa had last week in that easily-won game. Canada were missing some of their bigger players as a sidenote, and in general you’d wonder how much good it will have done Samoa for this week.

Samoa: 15 Faatoina Autagavaia, 14 Paul Perez, 13 George Pisi, 12 Paul Williams, 11 David Lemi (capt), 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Taiasina Tuifua, 7 Maurie Fa’asavalu, 6 Ofisa Treviranus, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Daniel Leo, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Ole Avei, 1 Sakaria Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Ti’i Paulo, 17 Villiamu Afatia, 18 James Johnston, 19 tbc, 20 Tivaini Fomai, 21 Jeremy Su’a, 22 Johnny Leota, 23 Robert Lilomaiava.

There’s plenty of hard hitting ability in the Samoan side, and the side they have out on Friday night is very similar to the one that lost by a point at the death to Scotland in the summer. Samoa had a try ruled out towards the end that would have won them that game. The Scottish side that was out was a little weak, but it was still an achievement of sorts for Samoa. They have an arguably stronger side out here with George Pisi from Northampton and Leo of Perpignan being added who they were missing that day v Scotland. However, other recent Samoan results don’t paint such a pretty picture. They barely scraped past Japan and Fiji in the pacific nations cup (which they did win), and they had a good chunk of Friday’s starters available. They now face a wounded Wales who are on a four game losing streak and who are desperate to prove a point here tomorrow.

To be frank, Wales in general are a far better side than Samoa. Even allowing for individual ability the Welsh match up, and the Welsh structure and familiarity from playing together at club level (many of them) is in contrast to a Samoan side with very little meaningful gametime recently. Wales have a better lineout, a better nine and ten, and if you look across the backline it starts to look ominous for Samoa. Phillps, Biggar, North, Roberts, Beck and Cuthbert are all very big men, and can all score tries. The Samoans are going to be feeling some serious hits out wide and they’re going to have a nightmare stopping these lads, especially wee David Lemi. George Pisi is quite injury prone and Northampton fans will be watching from behind the sofa hoping he doesn’t go off injured. The weather is set to be wet early on Friday and/or during the game, and Wales have a distinct advantage in the scrum and on the scrum replacement bench – James Johnston on the Samoan bench is a scrum-penalty magnet for Quins in the Premiership, lord knows how he’ll go at international level. And with the wet weather, and the scrums, will likely come penalties, and in steps Dan Biggar.

Biggar is not going to set the Welsh backline alight, but what he can do is kick penalties, and he has a point to prove in his lonely quest for fly half domination of Welsh middle Earth. Biggar will know fellow Osprey Fotuali (Samoan Scrumhalf) inside-out and former Osprey Phillips will be all over him. This game could well follow a simple pattern of Wales keeping it tight and nudging ahead through penalties in the wet, and then really cutting loose when Samoa start to get desperate and the pressure lifts. On the whole, it’s hard to see where Samoa can win this, and Wales should win this by a fair whack once they don’t panic, keep it tight, and take their points when the opportunities come (and there should be plenty).

Main bet- We’ve taken Wales -9 at 10/11 still available in Bluesquare and Sportingbet (minus 10 and 11 everywhere else). Wales have a point to prove and they have the tools to take Samoa apart.

Tryscorer bet- back future Welsh top tryscorer of all time Alex Cuthbert to score a try anytime in Skybet at a massive 13/8. (he’s 6/4 and 6/5 elsewhere) We’ve had a bigger than usual tryscorer interest on him for this one; it will be a surprise if Wales get into the ascendancy and he doesn’t dot down. He scores tries for a living this lad- no really, he does!

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England v Australia Rugby Betting

England v Australia Rugby Betting Preview, Sat Nov 17th 230pm. England -6 (disappearing) Bluesquare, Australia +8 Boylesports (10/11)

Sky Sports 1

Exaggeration is the watch-word this weekend. England’s result v Fiji, and Australia’s result v France. England beat a team last week that weren’t interested in playing (i’m sorry, but it’s true – watch Monye’s try before just half time for all the insight needed into just how much Fiji bothered in the entire 80 minutes) and Australia were always going to be on the end of a vengeful French onslaught after hammering them the last time they visited France. You sensed the Australians knew they were in for it and threw in the towel as soon as that first try by Picamoles went in.

To look further at England’s win last week, it has to be acknowledged that they can only play what is put in front of them, and they put Fiji away with very little effort. They had clean lineout all game, and clean scrum (and they won’t have either against Australia), and they racked up the tries. However, to nitpick slightly, they butchered alot of try chances against a wide defence that simply wasn’t there. They were in situations at times where it looked impossible NOT to score, and yet they botched a number of them. England seemed intent on keeping it tight in the quest for tries but had the ball gone wide when it should have they would have won by 80. It begs the question – are they not comfortable going wide? England seemed quite averse to taking the ball up to the line and drawing the defender for most of the game, and they won’t score tries against better defences by constantly giving off passes two metres before the gainline. Ashton comes in this week but he won’t see much ball from Tuilagi and Barritt. Sharples moves to the left wing, and Goode remains at full back and both are very inexperienced at test level. Goode is a quality player but he hasn’t been tested yet and he may have a tough afternoon on Saturday.

The point here is that England will have learned absolutely nothing from last week, other than the fact they’re lacking in execution. They found out nothing about their scrum and lineout, and they learned nothing about their backplay. Watching the BBC highlights (as well as having watched the match live), it was noticable listening to Brian Moore that he was as questionable as we still are about Fiji’s commitment to last week’s fixture. So overall, forget last week’s Fijian demolition if you’re trying to assess England’s chances of beating the handicap here on Saturday.

In the summer, England were blown away in the two opening tests by a South African side that ultimately finished third in the Rugby Championship. They did well to get a draw in a dour encounter in the third test but we’re searching for recent inspiration as to whether England should realistically be 8 point favourites against Australia. Yes France beat them by 27 points, and we’re not saying forget that, but for them to play two miserable games in a row, and for there to be another abject capitulation -this time to their great rivals England? We’re finding it hard to see it happening.

Australia were comprehensively beaten last week by determined French defence which was unusually combined with buckets of French flair. So what has changed this week? Not much for Australia, other than they’ll have far more motivation than they did against France. Australia are facing three losses in a row against one of their great rivals, and that hasn’t happened since the World cup winning English side of 2003. The handicap has been steadily moving out for England indicating there’s alot of money coming for them, but is the negative sentiment on Australia justified?

Alot of people seem to be forgetting that Australia just drew with the world champions 18 all a month ago in a game they could have won. They won their collisions in the first half, had parity in the set piece throughout the game, and kept an awesome All Black attack quiet. There has been a fair bit of talk on the England scrum holding the advantage here, but i’m not sure that’s warranted considering this Wallaby side managed the All Black result and beat an Argentina side away from home who were desperate for a win. Remembering last week’s game v Wales, are England currently a better side than Argentina? I’m not so sure about that.

It gets more interesting when you look at the Australian lineups in recent games. Firstly, the only real missing man from recent games is Pat McCabe, and his omission is a loss for the Australian defence. On the other hand, it may make them play a more attacking game with Tapuai replacing him. Many commentators are pointing to current Australian injuries as a reason to back England but they’ve been in pretty much the same state of injury affairs in the two games mentioned above; missing Pocock and O’Connor for a long time now. Genia missed both those games v Argentina and New Zealand, and has been out since the win v South Africa at home. And remember, Australia got the winning score in that game right after he went off injured, when his labouring over the breakdown wasn’t there to slow them down. I’m not saying Phipps at nine is a better player- but he isn’t the worst- he also played in both of the recent excellent Australian performances.

Australia also have some serious leadership in their side. Nathan Sharpe is still going strong and the inspirational Berrick Barnes comes in at full back. Where are England’s leaders this weekend? There was very little leadership shown in South Africa, and as above, forget the Fiji game. Compare Saturday’s England side with the England side that ran out 35-18 winners in 2010 and you’ll see what i’m getting at.

That day in 2010 (much referenced in the build up to this game), there was plently of leadership on show – players like Moody, Nick Easter (who should be starting on Saturday as one of the top form players in England), Hartley, Tindall, and even Ben Foden. When you compare that to the current set up, you may start to worry for England this week.

Robshaw has been touted as a potential Lions captain but he’s nowhere near that level (not this season anyway). If things get tough on Saturday who’s going to rouse this English side and get them moving? They look a bit lightweight if we’re honest and there’s a hell of alot of international inexperience in this Enlglish side. They won’t boss this Australian pack, and I don’t see the superiority in the backs. The one area England have more obvious cutting edge is in the half backs (on recent form). But if Beale gets any space and decent ground underfoot, (like an average South African backline had in the summer) things could turn sour for England because there’s space there.

The weather this weekend is set to be ok up until kick off when there’s a decent bit of rain forecast. Ordinarily this wouldn’t favour Australia but they have three accomplished and experienced kickers to get them out of trouble in the backline in Beale, Ashley-Cooper, and Barnes. They bring a wealth of international cutting edge to the table (unless you’re playing Knifey-spooney), and England don’t have really have an equivalent level of leadership in the side. Even against Fiji you could see Tuilagi running down blind alleys without passing or kicking and almost getting turned over. It’s little things like this and the lack of English leadership that has us pitching our punting-tent in the Australian camp this week. There’s so much un-merited optimism about for England and the pressure may get to them. They haven’t really done much since the six nations whereas Australia have fought massive battles all over the place. If things start to even slightly go against them on Saturday (and Australia will be well up for this), who’s going to pull them out of a hole?

Main bet – This England side has a future ahead of it but it’s still quite green in places.We’re backing Australia to bounce back and taking the +8 available in Skybet, medium to full stakes The handicap has moved out from -5 early in the week to -8 in places now (-6 is very scarce currently) and you might even get -9 if you wait around for the English punt to really kick in on Friday night.

Australia rarely play two bad games in a row and in all honestly I can see them even getting a win on Saturday. If it goes out to 4/1 (3/1 currently is the biggest available) we’ll be taking some of that too for value. All in all Australia are a match for this English side, and a start of eight points against an unproven England;with Australia being written off by the media; and with Australia having all the motivation; the +8 is far too tempting.

Tryscorer punt (small stakes) – The evergreen Wallaby leader Nathan Sharpe is 80/1 in Ladbrokes for first tryscorer (50/1 and less elsewhere) to get the first try and that’s far far too big for a man that’s been scoring tries recently. On a dirty Saturday afternoon he’ll be just the man to break through an unproven English line close in. Well worth a fiver anyway.

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