This weekend marks the last of the Autumn Internationals, and the one of the last chances for coaches to shuffle their deck before World Cup preparation starts in earnest.
Last week saw Wales finally dismiss their Australia hoodoo, Scotland run South Africa close, England eventually dispatch Japan and Ireland announce themselves as arguably world number one by beating the All Blacks in Dublin.
This week sees Scotland take on Argentina, England entertain Australia and Wales face off against more difficult competition, taking on the Boks at the Millennium Stadium. Our Rugby Union expert takes you through the best bets from the upcoming weekend of Test rugby.
Scotland v Argentina
Scotland suffered an agonising defeat to the Springboks last weekend, proving that despite all the attacking flair, they are still a work in progress.
It should be a good litmus test going into 2019 for them against an inconsistent Argentina then, who boast an incredibly creative and electrifying attack from broken play, but struggle to break down structured, disciplined sides.
Expect plenty of tries, but it takes more than the occasional moment of magic to beat Scotland at Murrayfield these days. Scotland, with a handicap of -8.5, are 10/11 with grosvenorsport.com, and I think that offers excellent value.
England v Australia
Fifteen years ago this month this was a World Cup Final fixture, now Australia are reeling and England still don’t feel quite right, so we are unlikely to see a repeat next year in Japan.
England enter as comfortable favourites, having only lost once all Autumn, by a point to New Zealand, whereas Australia have won only four of their last 14 games.
This awful stat is representative of the state of Australian rugby, where despite having some of the most dominant players in the world in Israel Folau, David Pocock and Michael Hooper, they rarely win games. Australia are 9/4 to cause a significant upset at Twickenham, whereas England are 1/3.
Manu Tuilagi is set to make his first start for England in four years, and a dynamic England backline could tear holes in the Aussie defence if they don’t turn up. I expect England to win comfortably, and put Michael Cheika under even more pressure. England to win by 13 or more is 6/4.
Wales v South Africa
Arguably the fixture of the weekend, this should be a thumping, ultra-physical encounter between two similarly-matched teams. Wales will miss Leigh Halfpenny, whilst South Africa have found a way to grind out wins this autumn despite not necessarily being at their best, and were desperately unlucky against England.
Equally adept at both a kicking game or free flowing rugby, the Boks enter as slight underdogs. However, I think South Africa, growing in stature every game under Rassie Erasmus, will dispatch the Welsh quite comfortably, and back them to win both halves at 3/1.
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