International Rugby: Week 3

The last weekend of the midyear international rugby schedule is headlined by a mouth-watering series decider between Australia and Ireland, but there’s also a Pacific blockbuster and chances for France and England to restore pride in their overseas campaigns. The Wolf has made either team by under 7.5 or draw in the Wallabies/Ireland clash his best.

Fiji vs Tonga (1:00pm Saturday 23rd June)
Pacific rivals Fiji and Tonga lock horns on Saturday to get another hectic weekend of international rugby underway. Fiji took out the recently-completed, Suva-hosted Pacific Nations Cup after winning both of their games against Samoa (24-22) and Georgia (37-15). The latter, highly-impressive victory was most notable for former NRL superstar Semi Radradra’s Test debut for Fiji, marking it with a late try. Tonga bounced back from a 16-15 loss to Georgia by putting away Samoa 28-18 in the second round. Fiji have won their last six Tests against Tonga, with the last three decided by eight points or less. But with Radradra and Nemani Nadolo lurking out wide, the Wolf believes the home side should have too much firepower for Tonga.
Best Bet: Fiji minus
Value Bet: Fiji 13+

Japan vs Georgia (3:45pm Saturday 23rd June)
Japan undid much of their good work from a resounding 34-17 win over Italy in the first Test by going down 25-22 to the Azzurri in the second clash last weekend. The Cherry Blossoms conceded the first three tries to trail 19-3 before staging a late fight-back. Georgia are coming off a mixed Pacific Nations Cup campaign in Fiji, edging out Tonga 16-15 before being the wrong end of a 37-15 lesson from the host team. But Georgia have established themselves as a rising force, easily winning every match of the Six Nations B tournament earlier this year and coming within seven points of Wales in late-2017. Another upset could be in the offing in Toyota this weekend if the tourists can shut down Japan’s daring backline.
Best Bet: Georgia plus
Value Bet: Georgia 1-12

New Zealand vs France (5:35pm Saturday 23rd June)
The All Blacks already have their series against France won but they’ll be looking to inject some life into the contest after a dour 26-13 result in the second clash that was marred by a controversial red card to French fullback Benjamin Fall after just 11 minutes. New Zealand finished four-tries-to-one victors but scored just once against a 14-man outfit in the second half. The All Blacks have made a stack of changes for the dead-rubber, including starts for Damian McKenzie, Waisake Naholo, Sonny Bill Williams, Jack Goodhue and Ardie Savea. It’s a line-up that screams all-out attack – and the Wolf is expecting plenty of points to be scored under the roof in Dunedin. New Zealand are unbeaten in their last seven Tests in the South Island city, with six of those matches producing over 50 points. France, however, were the last overseas side to beat the All Blacks in Dunedin, prevailing 27-22 in 2009.
Best Bet: New Zealand -24.5 ($1.90)
Value Bet: New Zealand 26-30 ($6.00)

Australia vs Ireland (8:00pm Saturday 23rd June)
The scene is set for a pulsating third Test decider in Sydney after Ireland’s series-levelling 26-21 win last weekend. The Wallabies drew first blood with a gritty 18-9 victory in the first Test, but the tourists showed excellent poise to get the job done in the second encounter. Jonny Sexton’s return at flyhalf proved crucial, booting 16 points for Ireland. The Six Nations champs’ ability to shut down fullback danger-man Israel Folau was crucial to their success and Australia need to work out how to free him up again on Saturday – as well as improving their work at the breakdown. Ireland have the monkey of a 39-year Test win drought in Australia off their back now, but eight of the nations’ last nine clashes have been decided by nine points or less and this shapes as yet another cliff-hanger.
Best Bet: Triple Margin 1 – Any Other Result (either team by under 7.5 or draw) ($2.25)
Value Bet: Australia 1-12 ($3.20)

South Africa vs England (1:05am Sunday 24th June)
England have now lost six matches in a row and their series against South Africa is gone, but there’s still plenty for Eddie Jones’ under-fire squad to play for in Cape Town this weekend. After holding on for a 42-39 win in the opener, the Springboks sealed the series with an impressive 23-12 win in the second Test. As they did in the first Test, England raced out of the blocks with the first two tries. But South Africa scored 23 unanswered points to clinch their seventh straight win over England on home soil. England have now won just one of their last 15 Tests against South Africa, while they lost both of their previous matches at Newlands by 18-point margins. While it is only a matter of time before England shake off their 2018 malaise, the Wolf can’t go past the Boks at home given what both teams have put up in the first two encounters.
Best Bet: South Africa 1-12 ($2.70)
Value Bet: HT/NT – England/South Africa ($6.50)

Argentina vs Scotland (5:40am Sunday 24th June)
Two teams with big points to prove square off in Resistencia this weekend to close out the month of international rugby. Argentina went down 2-0 in their home series against Wales, losing 23-10 and 30-12 in performances that belied the Pumas-stacked Jaguares’ recent Super Rugby heroics. Meanwhile, after thrashing Canada 48-10 a fortnight ago, Scotland suffered a historic 30-29 defeat to the United States in Houston – the Eagles’ first win over Tier 1 nation in 94 years. Argentina hold a 9-7 all-time record over Scotland, though ironically Scotland have won four of seven Tests staged in Argentina. The Scots have also won five of the last six meetings, including their last three in Argentina and the last three in a row overall. Of the last 15 encounters, 14 have been decided by 1-12 margins – but the Wolf likes the chastened Pumas’ chances against the line in this one.
Best Bet: Argentina -4.5 ($1.90)
Value Bet: Argentina 1-12 ($2.70)