International Rugby: Week 2

The international rugby schedule rolls into its second weekend, with the Wallabies and All Blacks aiming to seal their series against Northern Hemisphere opposition after highly impressive first-up victories. The Wolf has made an Australia WIN his best of the weekend.

Japan vs Italy (3:00pm Saturday 16th June)
Japan solidified their standing as a rising rugby force with a 34-17 victory over Italy in the first Test at Oita, though it took two tries in the final quarter to seal what had been a close-fought match. The result extended Italy’s losing streak to eight Tests, with all but one of those defeats coming by margins of 16 or more. Japan are unbeaten in their last three – including a historic draw against France late last year – and will be eager to complete an authoritative series win over the Azzurri in Kobe. The Wolf is tipping another high-scorer, with the Cherry Blossoms chalking up a similarly convincing success at home.
Best Bet: Japan minus
Value Bet: Japan 16-20

New Zealand vs France (5:35pm Saturday 16th June)
Down 11-8 at halftime of the series opener in Auckland, the All Blacks looked to have a major fight on their hands in the form of the plucky young French side. Punters that backed France with the hefty 24.5 start were confident. But a contentious yellow card against the visitors changed the complexion of the match and New Zealand’s breath-taking attacking firepower came to the fore, piling on seven unanswered tries in the last 29 minutes to run out 52-11 winners. The ABs have named an unchanged line-up for the second Test in Wellington and they should be better across the 80 minutes for that continuity. The weather in the capital looks good so there should be plenty of tries; the Wolf is keen to take the hosts against the 28.5 points line.
Best Bet: New Zealand -28.5 ($1.90)
Value Bet: New Zealand 36-40 ($8.00)

Australia vs Ireland (8:00pm Saturday 16th June)
The Wallabies began 2018 with renewed grit and vigour, holding Ireland try-less and overcoming a late deficit to grind out an 18-9 first-Test win in Brisbane. The effect David Pocock – who scored the match-sealing try – had on the team was palpable, but stalwarts Michael Hooper, Will Genia, Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau were also superb. The series now moves to Melbourne, where Australia are 11-2 from their last 13 Tests and Ireland is 0-2. Ireland’s winless streak against Australia away now stretches to eight matches, with their last victory coming way back in 1979. Of the nations’ last eight clashes, just one has been decided by more than nine points and another 1-12 thriller looms here. But the Wolf likes what he saw from Cheika’s charges in the first Test and is confident in the value the Wallabies provide as narrow favourites head-to-head.
Best Bet: Australia WIN ($1.82)
Value Bet: HT/NT – Australia/Australia ($2.75)

South Africa vs England (1:05am Sunday 17th June)
Eddie Jones is majorly under the pump on the back of England’s fifth straight loss, a 42-39 defeat in Johannesburg against a Springboks side that had hardly set the world on fire in the lead-up. England raced out of the blocks with three tries in the first 16 minutes but fell away badly to trail by halftime. Joe Launchbury is set to return from injury in a huge boost to the England pack. South Africa have lost just once in their last 14 Tests against England and are unbeaten in the last six matches at home, with England’s last victory in the Republic coming back in 2000. The last encounter in Bloemfontein, in 2007, finished 58-10 in favour of the Boks. But seven of the last eight clashes between the rivals were decided by 10 points or less and England are tempting here with the start.
Best Bet: England +4 ($1.90)
Value Bet: England 1-12 ($3.30)

Argentina vs Wales (5:40am Sunday 17th June)
It’s back to the drawing board for Argentina, who went into the first Test against Wales as warm favourites but had their pants pulled down in San Juan 23-10. The tourists led 20-3 soon after halftime and sat on their advantage in a dour second stanza, with the Pumas finally scoring their first try three minutes from fulltime. Perhaps overconfidence at the Jaguares’ amazing Super Rugby run played into the psyche of Argentina, but they’ll certainly need big improvement across the board to square the series against the gritty Welsh in Santa Fe. Wales boast a 12-5 record in Tests against the Pumas – including wins in six of the last seven – and are 4-3 on Argentine soil. Only one of the last six Tests was decided by less than 13 points but this should be a tighter contest. The Wolf is finding it hard to overlook a repeat win for Wales, who are narrow outsiders to go 2-0 up.
Best Bet: Wales plus
Value Bet: Wales 1-12

United States vs Scotland (10:00am Sunday 17th June)
An experimental Scotland side put Canada to the sword 48-10 in Edmonton last weekend, scoring seven tries to one – including a hat-trick to hooker George Turner. Scotland lack consistency – beating France and England in the Six Nations while crashing heavily to Wales and Ireland – but overall there have been encouraging signs for Gregor Townsend’s side. United States warmed up for this showdown in Houston with a 62-13 drubbing of Russia, running in nine tries. Scotland are 5-0 against USA with an average winning margin of 31 points. Their most recent meeting saw Scotland prevail 39-16 in Leeds at the 2015 World Cup. Scotland will get the win but the Americans are an improving outfit and could be a good option at home with the start.
Best Bet: United States plus
Value Bet: Scotland 16-20