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Autumn Internationals – Schmidt’s First Real Test Awaits

rugby

Ireland v Australia

Ireland come into this game on the back of an easy win over Samoa, in a game that never really challenged them. Joe Schmidt will have been happy with his first game in charge as the Samoan defence had no answer to the force of his dominant Irish side.

Australia have shown they are still causing problems for many teams despite their poor performances during the Rugby Championship. Australia will remember how they lost to the Irish in the last World Cup and will want revenge for that defeat. This will be a big game for some of Ireland’s younger players and should they step up to the mark then Schmidt will certainly enjoy a blistering start to his Irish tenure.

Verdict: Ireland

Wales v Argentina

Wales are a growing power in world rugby and the reigning Six Nations champions have much more scoring prowess than that of their Argentine counterparts. Having said that Argentina have shown a lot of promise in the Rugby Championship despite failing to win a game. The Rugby Championship gives the Argentines more opportunities to play top class rugby more regularly and it will be interesting to see what they have learned when they tackle the Welsh. Wales need to keep a firm grip on the game as any loose play will benefit the South Americans.

Verdict: Wales

England V New Zealand

Humiliation. That’s the buzz word that will be floating around the heads of all 23 Kiwis taking part in this fixture. There was talk of stomach bugs etc but the fact is that New Zealand got royally thumped by England last time out and they’re out for blood.

England on the other hand made a bit if a meal out of Australia and their performance against Argentina can be read into as much as Ireland’s against Samoa. That being said there was quality on show from them in this fixture last year and players like Farrell and Youngs can cause trouble at the best of times, once the wayward boot of the former doesn’t return.

Until last year this was a pretty easy game to call, but excuses and such aside that anomaly remains, the majority of this English side has hammered the All Blacks. Calling it is a nightmare, but on the sheer fact that New Zealand are in the form of their lives with England only getting there.
New Zealand win

Scotland v South Africa

Scotland win the accolade of Worst November Warm Up with a so so performance against ultimate minnows Japan last week. On the other side of the coin South Africa ran arguably the biggest European powerhouse nation Wales, to the wire with a victory in Cardiff.

Fair enough, Wales were nowhere near their best form and sacrificed the most players to the Lions of any other nation, but even a half cooked Wales outranks the Scots unfortunately.

As much as it pains me to say it, expect this to quite possibly be a landslide and not in favour of the home side.

South Africa win

France v Tonga

France have improved immensely since the last time they played Tonga in the World Cup, where they lost to the Pacific Islanders before lady luck saw them qualify from their group. I don’t expect that Tonga will be able to reproduce that performance at the weekend, but you never really know what kind of surprise you could get from the Pacific Islanders. France showed a lot of urgency in their game with the All Blacks, but failed to capitalise on their mistakes.

Verdict: France

Italy v Fiji

Italy come into this game on the back of a hammering from the Australians, while Fiji have been growing stronger in preparation for the next year’s World Cup and have yet to qualify. Fiji who are Pacific Nations champions can exploit the Italians, if the Italian defence fails to tighten up at the back. Italy need a victory to restore confidence in their players and this is the best game for them to do that however they won’t have it all their own way.

Verdict: Draw

Image courtesy of rugbyticketnet.com

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  1. December 21st, 2013

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