With a year to go until the 2019 World Cup these Autumn Internationals have significance beyond those of a normal year.
England v South Africa 3pm
With a year to go until the 2019 World Cup these Autumn Internationals have significance beyond those of a normal year. There are only two groups of fixtures left: the autumn internationals and the Six Nations. After that we are into the World Cup warm-up games, where it should be a case of honing not continued experimentation.
Unfortunately for England they are heavily injury hit, partly an unfortunate combination of circumstances and partly a result of the relentlessly punishing domestic programme and the lack of agreement between the clubs and RFU to rest players (as the Irish national side has)
Injuries aside England go into this autumn campaign with a lot of question-marks anyway. They lost their last three games in the Six Nations in the spring then the first two tests of the South Africa tour in the summer before winning the dead rubber (inspired by Danny Cipriani who doesn’t even make this squad) in Cape Town. After winning their first 17 Tests under coach Eddie Jones, England have lost six out of their past seven games.
Even at full strength the questions about England’s style and particularly the personnel in the back row remain. As it is missing both Vunipola’s, Robshaw, Hughes, Launchbury and others is a big loss particularly in experience in the forwards.
South Africa meanwhile are on the up a year out from Japan. They’ve just finished second in the Rugby Championship with a famous win in New Zealand, and then running the close at home, along the way.
Typically South African sides are rugged up front and that applies to this team but they have more flair out wide than recent iterations of the side under newish head coach Rassie Erasmus. Part of their improvement is that the talent pool he can choose from is greater than it was due to the relaxation of a selection policy that previously prevented players playing outside South Africa from being picked.
Prices here are England 8/11 and South Africa 6/5 and England are -2 at 10/11 on the point spread.
I strongly like South Africa at 5/4 with Betfair Sportsbook
Wales v Scotland 2.45pm
The two Six Nations rivals meet in Cardiff and both sides look to be on the up. Wales and Scotland both won three of their five 2018 six nations games to finish 2nd and 3rd in the table respectively.
Wales then beat South Africa in a one off international in the US this summer and won two tests away in Argentina. For this match they have injury problems in the back row (then entire first choice back row from last year is injured) but look particularly threatening in the back line
Scotland lost at Cardiff 34-7 in the opening game of the last six nations and generally their home form is far better than away. In the summer they beat Canada and Argentina but lost in the USA. They are missing their talismanic full back Stuart Hogg but like their hosts are more threatening in the back line than solid up front.
Wales are 2/5 favourites, Scotland 2/1 with Bet365. I like Wales -6 at 10/11 with the same firm.