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International Rugby Predictions – Tips For The Weekend’s Key Clashes

The drama and blunt-force trauma will continue when the world champion Springboks and Six Nations winners Ireland run it back at Kings Park on Saturday, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

Springboks

The drama and blunt-force trauma will continue when the world champion Springboks and Six Nations winners Ireland run it back at Kings Park on Saturday, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

South Africa, New Zealand and Australia started their respective two-match series against Ireland, England and Wales on a winning note to kick off the mid-year internationals last weekend, while France denied a Southern Hemisphere clean sweep with a victory over Argentina.

The rematches on Saturday promise to be as fiery as they are intriguing. Here’s how we see things playing out in Durban, Auckland, Melbourne and Buenos Aires:

New Zealand v England

Saturday, 13 July – 9:05

In Test rugby, windows of opportunity present themselves for underdogs to defy the odds and England missed their golden opportunity to claim their first win over the All Blacks on New Zealand soil in 21 years last weekend, going down 16-15. With the Kiwis returning to Eden Park, where they haven’t lost since 1994, this weekend, that window has now closed.   

The All Blacks weren’t commanding in their first Test under Scott Robinson, however, they were composed. The way they came back from trailing 15-10 early in the second half, chipping away to win the territory battle and slowly taking control to edge ahead through Damian McKenzie’s boot, spoke to the character and temperament of the group.

The key difference between the sides was at the breakdown and it’s here where the Kiwis would’ve gained confidence going into the rematch. They also won the scrum and aerial battles.   

From England’s point of view, their physicality and tenacity to stay in the fight, along with good lineout work and the effectiveness of their rush defence are pleasing aspects to build on, but with the Kiwis set to grow an extra arm and a leg at their fortress, it’ll be a different challenge altogether this time around.

England’s bench failed to make an impact and that should be the case again and lead to the hosts pulling away to clinch the series. 

Prediction: New Zealand by 12.

Suggested Bet: New Zealand -8.5 at 1.84.

Australia v Wales

Saturday, 13 July – 11:45

After the pressure was on Joe Schmidt in his first Test in charge of the Wallabies last weekend, it’s transferred onto Warren Gatland this week as the 25-16 defeat was the Dragons’ seventh straight. It’s Wales’ longest run without a win since 2012 and pushes Gatland closer to a possible axing.

For a new-look team, Australia impressed with their ascendency in the set pieces, dominating the scrums and disrupting the Welsh lineouts. Defensively stingy as well, it was a promising start for the Wallabies and one they’ll take a lot of confidence from.

Wales had success with their powerful driving maul, scoring their only try and having another chalked off via this weapon. Minor technical tweaks could make for even more potent rolling thunder, but they need to ask more questions in general play if they’re to stop the rot.

That starts with more accuracy as they made plenty of handling errors. They did finally establish some continuity in the last 10 minutes, but by then, it was too late. They also need to work on their ball protection.

Ultimately, as long as they stay disciplined, the Wallabies will make it two from two.

Prediction: Australia by 10.

Suggested Bet: Wales +10.5 at 1.83.

South Africa v Ireland

Saturday, 13 July – 17:00

Brace yourself for a barn-burning rematch after the ferocious affair of tight margins at Loftus Versfeld. Last weekend’s battle could’ve gone either way with fortune favouring the Boks.

Neither side were as clinical as they would’ve liked, but the hosts’ fundamentals were marginally better. Ultimately, two mistakes by James Lowe cost the Irish two tries and the game. The visitors will be hurting but at the same time, they’ll be confident that they can turn the tables and deny the Boks a series win in Durban.

The more expansive game plan the Boks unveiled was certainly a surprise and had mixed success. Tony Brown’s influence could clearly be seen, and South Africa did get the result they were after, but I’m not sold on the tweaked tactic. They played too much rugby at times and didn’t get enough reward for it.

The Boks had the physical edge and doubling down on that with more directness would serve them well. The Irish countered the back-to-back world champions’ power with intelligence and absolutely blew them away at the breakdown, winning nine turnovers.

The Six Nations champions picked up a number of injuries, though, which will make their task that much tougher this weekend. South Africa should be sharper as well, which should lead to a bit more convincing victory for the world’s number one ranked team.

Prediction: South Africa by 10.

Suggested Bet: South Africa -8.5 at 1.84.

Argentina v France

Saturday, 13 July – 21:00

A big response is needed from Argentina after the Felipe Contepomi era got off to the worst possible start last weekend.

Soundly beaten 28-13 by a young French side with six uncapped players in the starting XV, the Pumas were listless and ill-disciplined and lacked the cohesion one expects from a more settled side.

The French rookies simply wanted it more, bringing energy and effort in abundance. That hunger to make their mark, coupled with the scrum dominance they had and Antoine Hastoy’s accurate goal-kicking make Les Bleus high-value underdogs to win the series.

Prediction: France by 5.

Suggested Bet: France at 2.65.

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at SARugby.com and senior staff writer at Rugby365.com, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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