Apologies that there isn’t a fuller piece here this week on, oh I don’t know, England’s courageous showing in Auckland last Saturday or the Welsh attempt to notch up a win against the Springboks for the first time since 1999. It’s been a busy seven days, what with new European Cup draws, the WRU’s looming Emergency General Meeting (which takes place this Sunday) or the mysterious and sudden disappearance of a certain D Moffett. It certainly has been one of ‘those’ weeks. So what better way to round it off than with a full card of international fixtures. Shall we take a look at the Week Two predictions? Yes, lets:
June 14, 03:00 – Samoa v Italy – Samoa by 10
June 14, 08:35 – New Zealand v England – New Zealand by 10
June 14, 11:00 – Australia v France – Australia by 14
June 14, 16:00 – South Africa v Wales – South Africa by 3
June 14, 19:00 – Canada v Scotland – Canada by 3
June 14, 19:40 – Argentina v Ireland – Ireland by 10
Italy were well and truly humbled last Saturday in losing to Fiji (congrats to them by the way) and will be glad of the opportunity to redeem themselves just one week on. But a game against Samoa is not what you would describe as an ‘easy win’. In all honesty, Italy are a rugby nation on the slide at the moment (just look at the world rankings) and Samoa may well take advantage…just like the Fijians last week.
A lot’s been written about how close England were against New Zealand in Auckland. Surprisingly close in fact. So close that a lot of fans immediately took to Twitter to declaim Nigel Owens’ decision-making during the 80. Owens didn’t have the best game by his high standards but England’s loss has more to do with an inability to take try-scoring chances when they materialise (something that the All Blacks do with relative ease). The Red Rose will be bolstered with the return of many of their stars but New Zealand won’t be half as a complacent or rusty as they were at Eden Park. Many English fans fear their best chance for an away victory has already passed them by. That’s how Red Rugby sees it too. New Zealand by 10.
France were laughable against the Wallabies last week. Absolutely laughable. They too will be welcoming some stars back to the side but this will only soften the blow, not reverse the outcome. Another easy Australia win.
The Springboks v Wales game is an interesting one. If you’d asked for these predictions a few weeks ago, we would have said an easy South Africa win. But Heyneke Meyer’s side have lost an astonishing five centres in that time. Wales, conversely, are very strong in that area, with the likes of Davies, Roberts, Allen and Hook. The game could (and probably will) be won and lost at the breakdown though and here Wales are looking lightweight without Warburton and Tipuric. Warren Gatland will be hoping that Gethin Jenkins fills that role of ‘jackal’. But it may be asking too much. This one will be close, but we fancy the Springboks (who had a good run-out against the World XV last Saturday) to sneak it.
Scotland continue their epic journey round the planet by playing Canada. The Scots were a little rusty last week but ended up comfortable winners against the US Eagles. Canada are a stronger team though. Has Vern Cotter had enough time to bed-in his new look Scotland. Possibly not. Canada by a penalty score.
Finally, the Irish, who were good value for the victory against Argentina last weekend. Expect more of the same here as Joe Schmidt brings in some equally-strong players. Of all the Rugby Championship sides Argentina would seem to be the most prone to the dreaded rustiness at the start of the season. An Ireland win it is.