How will the home nations fare during the Autumn Internationals?
The Autumn Internationals are well-underway with many of the home nations in action at the end of November and beginning of December.
Wales have two remaining games with back to back fixtures at the Principality Stadium as they take on New Zealand and South Africa. Warren Gatland’s men face the world champions and will aim to end their unwanted winless streak against the All-Blacks. The Welsh haven’t been victorious against these opponents in 29 attempts and are priced up at 10/1 by the majority of bookmakers to end that run at the Principality Stadium. 1953 was the last time they upset the side from the Southern Hemisphere and despite a narrow victory over Georgia here recently, very few fans are confident of success.
New Zealand are priced at 1/7 for success in Wales yet again and they’ve won 15 times here since their dominance in this fixture began. The hosts will not be helped by the absence of some key figures including Liam Williams, Jonathon Davies and Sam Warburton. Five of the six absentees toured New Zealand with the Lions during the summer and coach Gatland has expressed his concern at the physical toll the game has on his players at the top level.
The visitors aren’t at full strength either and have a number of players on the sidelines. Brodie Retalick has been rested for this tie but Israel Dagg, Owen Franks and Dane Coles won’t play any part. New Zealand’s biggest absentee is Kieran Read and his absence should give Wales hope of breaking that unwanted record. They still remain frustratingly tough to break down and battled back to win 22-17 at Murrayfield on the 18th November.
If Wales aren’t successful against NZ, they have the chance to bounce back against South Africa on December 2nd. The visitors were hammered at the Aviva Stadium on the 11th of November but bounced back with a narrow success over France. The performances of Dan Biggar and Owen Williams have given Welsh fans plenty of reason for optimism and they will go into this game believing they give the world champions a run for their money.
Ireland will kick off at 5:30pm against Argentina at the AVIVA Stadium and will fancy their chances of beating the South American outfit. Despite beating Italy on their own patch, they were roundly defeated at Twickenham in front of 81,000 and a similarly hostile atmosphere awaits them on Saturday evening. Adam Byrne looks set to make his debut for Ireland and it’s a terrific chance for the Leinster man to stake a claim for a regular starting spot. James Ryan could also start this test but they will be without Robbie Henshaw who has picked up an injury and won’t feature here.
These sides haven’t met since 2015 when the Pumas defeated Ireland 20-43 at the Quarter Final Stage of the World Cup and this is a decent chance for the hosts to exact revenge. The squad is much changed from that bitterly disappointing outcome and this is a fresh side who are determined to impress head coach Joe Schmidt. The Kiwi, who has led his side to two Six Nations triumphs will be hoping a number of his young side can add competition for places by impressing in this fixture. They have been made the 2/13 favourites for this tie with Argentina priced up as 67/10 favourites with a number of betting sites. They named a more experimental team against Fiji for the narrow success but Cain Healey and Rory Best will be at the heart of this side as they line up against the Pumas.
Twickenham will host England’s final Autumn International as the hosts welcome Samoa to West London. Eddie Jones has revolutionised the team since his arrival and he is hoping to continue his unbeaten home record on November 25th. The head coach has won 12 out of 12 at Twickenham so far and he will be expected to name a strong side for this fixture.
England are as short as 1/40 to seal another victory here with their opponents priced at an ambitious 40/1 to spoil the party and ruin Jones’ perfect record here.
They were dominant throughout against Australia and Argentina and a similar performance is expected here. Twickenham will be roaring on the home side and hoping they can make eight wins from eight against Samoa. Jones’ will be without Dylan Hartley who will be a big loss for England but a number of players will be given the chance to shine in this fixture. Jamie George impressed against Australia and looks set to continue his run in the side whilst George Ford and Chris Robshaw will co-captain the side here. Henry Slade and Ellis Genge will be given the chance to impress. Eddie Jones is likely to hold onto his imperious record here but bigger tests await in the future.
Scotland face a stern test a Murrayfield as they host Australia on November 25th. After beating Samoa, the Scots battled admirably against the world champions New Zealand but eventually came up short. They didn’t let their opponents see much of the ball and it worked for the majority of the contest and a similar approach may work effectively against the Aussies.
Scotland have been priced up as outsiders at 24/13 with the visitors as short as 8/13 for successful north of the border.
Another stern test is expected with the Australians hurting from their defeat at Twickenham just seven days ago. The game is unlikely to be as cagey as the contest with the Kiwis and an entertaining 80 minutes awaits fans who have been lucky enough to secure a ticket for the game.
Scotland beat a weakened Wallabies in Sydney back in June but they have a number of key players back for this tie and it may not be quite so straightforward for the Scots. Alex Dunbar has been ruled out of this tie after failing to recover from a blow to the head against New Zealand and will be replaced by Peter Horne for this tie. Other than that, Gregor Townsend is likely to name an unchanged side from the narrowly defeat to New Zealand with Zander Fagerson being passed fit for this encounter.
Stuart Hogg was superb against NZ last weekend as he bamboozled the world champions and the home fans will be hoping that performance wasn’t a one-off from the full-back. His opposite number Israel Folau caused problems for Townsend’s men when they met in June and will be one man to keep an eye on.