After wins by Australia and South Africa last weekend, this Saturday sees the second tests of Ireland and England’s summer tours
Australia v Ireland 11.05am BST Melbourne
Ireland’s 12 game winning streak was ended by an impressively physical and lethally clinical Wallabies side in Brisbane last weekend. Australia were outstanding in defence as the Irish dominated possession and territory.
Grand Slam champions Ireland were blunt in attack and couldn’t muster a try. The hits were brutal throughout a ferocious content with the Wallabies defence on form and try-scorer David Pocock proving to be a match-winner menace at the breakdown, one area where Joe Schmidt’s side were second best.
Pocock last played test rugby fifteen months ago but constantly relieved pressure for the home side with turnovers and ruck penalties
Ireland’s error count rose as the frenetic nature of the game appeared to sap them of energy, Stockdale grubber-kicking into touch and Herring offloading forward on the next two attacks. Losing Earls to a head injury – replaced by Jordan Larmour – didn’t help their composure.
Ultimately it was the attacking work of Kurtley Beale and the aerial dominance of Israel Folau that did for the tourists. Joe Schmidt will not be happy with his finishing team as they lost for the first time since March 2017. When Johnny Sexton replaced Joey Carbery, his side were a point ahead but they lost their grip under Wallaby pressure at the end of the Test.
For Melbourne on Saturday prices are Australia 5/6 Ireland 6/5 and Australia -1 at 10/11 on the handicap with Ladbrokes. Ireland can be expected to tighten up in the air but Australia are a more formidable proposition up front these days, and their attacking class should see them to another win. Australia at 5/6 is a bet.
South Africa v England 4.05pm BST Bloemfontein
England lost their fourth Test in a row as South Africa launched an astonishing fightback to win the first Test.
England raced into a 24-3 lead as Mike Brown, Elliot Daly and Owen Farrell crossed for converted tries.
But the Springboks led 29-27 at the break via Faf de Klerk, S’busiso Nkosi (2) and Willie le Roux tries.
Aphiwe Dyantyi then went over for the hosts, and two Handre Pollard penalties meant scores from Maro Itoje and Jonny May were not enough for England.
It meant new South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus won his first match since replacing Allister Coetzee.
The Boks were determined to mark the dawn of a new era by playing with pace and width, and it was the two England-based players – Sale scrum-half De Klerk and Wasps full-back Le Roux – who engineered the most spectacular of turnarounds.
De Klerk, all fizz around the fringes, sniped over from close range for the first try, and Le Roux, the gliding playmaker up from full-back who delivered the passes that set the Boks’ electric wingers running free, raced over for their fourth.
England were good at times – playing away from home, at altitude. They nearly turned it around at the very end. But again, their poor discipline cost England. Individual errors keep costing them, and that’s what the England management will be disappointed with.
For this weekend England move away from altitude to sea level, which should help, particularly to control the game at a slightly slower pace than last weekend. I would expect team changes to give them a more physical presence in the pack and regard the +4 at 10/11 with Ladbrokes as attractive. They simply should defend better too.
I am less convinced about the outright price of 6/4 (South Africa 8/13)