There is already lots to talk about after the first two rounds of the Autumn Nations series and we begin by delving into the exploits of Scotland, who are two from two after victories over Tonga and Australia.
Scots Building Momentum
After a disappointing 2021 Six Nations in which so much was expected from Scotland, Gregor Townsend’s men have gone away, reassessed and come back with a fighting spirit that has seen them enjoy a 100 per cent start to the Autumn Nations series.
The 60-14 thumping of Tonga may not have come as a huge surprise, given the lack of strength in the Pacific Islanders’ side, but Scotland really showed their quality in the narrow 15-13 triumph over Australia – the third straight victory for the Scots against the Wallabies.
Hamish Watson was in particularly good form, crossing for his side’s first try, while 21-year-old debutant Ewan Ashman also went over to give the partisan home crowd lots to cheer about.
It has been a solid start for Scotland but their credentials will be tested once more on Saturday when they welcome reigning world champions South Africa to Edinburgh for what promises to be an enthralling clash.
The Springboks kicked off their autumn with a 23-18 victory against Wales at the Principality Stadium and although this is another win chalked up for the southern hemisphere side, the performance wasn’t the greatest.
Jacques Nienaber’s men were playing against an injury-hit opposition, and the fact the visitors left it so late to claim the victory suggests they are not clicking right now and can be got at by 2/1 Scotland.
Wales Struggling to Cope
Wales have been hit hard by injuries ahead of the Autumn Nations series, with George North, Leigh Halfpenny, Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, Dan Lydiate, captain Alun Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, and back-row pair Ross Moriarty and Taulupe Faletau all out for the series.
Wayne Pivac’s men were valiant in defeat against South Africa last time out, leading for 73 minutes of the match, but that is now two defeats from two after the 54-16 thrashing at the hands of New Zealand.
Up next for the Welsh side is a home clash against Fiji on Saturday and although injury problems are still an issue, the hosts should be able to squeeze out a victory against an opposition that likes to throw the ball around, with them 25/27 carrying a 14.5 handicap.
England Out of the Blocks Quickly
After finishing fifth in the 2021 Six Nations, England are hoping to get themselves back on track and they started their series in dominant fashion, racking up a 69-3 victory over Tonga at Twickenham.
Eddie Jones has incorporated new faces into his squad while keeping some of the more experienced players around. Although there are stiffer challenges to come, the victory last weekend will provide a big confidence boost.
Up next is Saturday’s home clash against Australia and this promises to be a rip-roaring affair between two rivals. On paper, the Red Rose look to have a good mix of pace and power in their squad, making them a threat in both the forwards and backs.
If Jones allows his side to play, this should make for an enthralling encounter and a high-scoring affair could be on the cards against Australia, who have scored 184 points in their last seven outings.
Ireland Set for All Blacks Test
Ireland also started their series last weekend, defeating Japan 60-5, but they now face arguably their toughest test when they welcome New Zealand to the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
The All Blacks have been dominant in both of their wins, thrashing Wales 54-16 and then Italy 47-9, and they will be looking to press ahead when they head to Dublin this weekend.
Although the Irish will be positive ahead of the contest, they may fall short in this one, and backing the All Blacks to win by 13-plus points at 20/23 looks like a solid betting route to go down.
*All odds correct at time of writing.