The Autumn Nations Cup made a decent debut last weekend and promises to ramp up this weekend, with the headliner undoubtedly England’s match against Ireland on Saturday afternoon.
Confident England Can Put Ireland to the Sword
Fresh from winning the Six Nations, the feel-good factor surrounding the England camp continued to grow last weekend, courtesy of the 40-0 win over Georgia.
Hooker Jamie George was the hero, touching down for a hat-trick as the Red Rose pack dismantled the usually fearsome Lelos forwards.
Ireland’s 32-9 win over Wales also bodes well for a successful campaign in the inaugural edition of the Autumn Nations Cup but their injuries are mounting up.
Both Jonathan Sexton and Robbie Henshaw are out here and while the inclusions of Keith Earls and Bundee Aki add both experience and direction to the back-line, much will depend on how Sexton’s replacement Ross Byrne handles things at Twickenham.
England dominated the Irish in this year’s Six Nations and were perhaps unlucky not to come away with more than a 24-12 win.
Win All That Matters for Wales
Last Friday’s reverse in Dublin means Wayne Pivac has won only one of his six games in charge of Wales, beating Italy 42-0 on the opening weekend of the Six Nations and the knives are already out for the Kiwi.
Pivac deserves time to put his plans in place, especially having been tasked with introducing a more attacking gameplan after 12 successful, yet pragmatic, years under Warren Gatland.
However, a defeat on Saturday against Georgia would be unforgivable and his forwards will need to improve, having been hit hard at scrum time by Ireland.
Georgia will surely target the set-piece and will hope to play with more fluency after a spirited, yet disjointed, showing at Twickenham.
Promotion to this type of tournament has been the Lelos’ reward for years of consistency against second-tier opponents and this could be a tighter game than the
50/57 being offered on their +23.5 handicap.
Wales should win, with a margin of 16-20 at
23/4 holding value, but it probably won’t be a stroll in Llanelli.
France Out for Revenge
After previously carrying all before them in the Six Nations, France’s trip to Murrayfield in the penultimate round turned out to be a disaster.
Mercurial fly-half Romain Ntamack lasted only eight minutes, while a moment of madness just before the break by Mohamed Haouas led to a red card and the end of his team’s Grand Slam dreams.
Les Bleus’ opening game with Fiji was cancelled due to the pandemic and they will be aiming to hit the ground running against an improving Scotland side fresh from a 28-17 win in Italy.
While a touch fortunate at times, Gregor Townsend’s men were good value for that victory in the spring and France will feel they have point to prove in Edinburgh.
Fabien Galthie’s side were brilliant at times in dispatching Ireland 35-27 in their final Six Nations match at the end of last month and will be ready to hit the ground running.
A winning margin of 1-12 points in France’s favour requires interest at
6/4 and with captain Charles Ollivon leading from the front, they will be tough to stop.
*All odds correct at time of writing