Five Tests will test the rugby expert’s knowledge
This weekend’s Rugby 5 pool features five internationals.
First up is the clash between Scotland and Fiji.
Although Scotland have won five of their seven clashes against Fiji, they received a rude awakening the last time they met. When they met in June last year, Fiji triumphed 27-22 in Suva. Scottish rugby, however, has been on the up since under coach Gregor Townsend. In their last 10 tests Scotland boast six wins including the scalps of Australia, France, England and Argentina.
In their last test in June, Fiji lost at home to Tonga, which does not bode well for their assignment in Edinburgh.
Scotland look likely winners, but the margin is unpredictable.
After their contentious victory over the Boks, England square up against the All Blacks in Match 2.
The last time England beat New Zealand, they defeated them comprehensively 38-21 at Twickenham in 2012. It feels a long time ago because it is. That was their only win over the Kiwis in their last 15 clashes.
The All Blacks go into this fixture having won their last five matches against England, but amazingly the teams haven’t met since 2014.
While England this week will take time to soothe aches and pains from their encounter last weekend with the Springboks, the All Blacks will feel refreshed. The bulk of them have been in London since last week, while their second-string side walloped Japan.
England pose very little threat from structured play, but their tactical and goal kicking can again prove vital.
Wales, on a high after beating Scotland last weekend, face Australia in Match 3.
Wales perennially go into this matchup with much hope, but have flattered to deceive in most of them. The fact is when the Wallabies play Wales, irrespective their form going into a game, they find a way of winning.
To be fair, Wales all too often are the architects of their own demise. Wales have beaten Australia only once in their last 17 clashes. That was a 21-18 win in Cardiff in 2008. Australia has won eight times since against Wales at that venue. Wales, however, are on a good run with seven wins from their nine tests this year and they’ve won their last six straight. Australia have won just three of their 10 tests this season, but until proved otherwise, they remain Wales’ bogey side.
In Match 4 Ireland host Argentina. Ireland have won six of their last seven tests against Argentina. Perhaps more ominously for the Los Pumas, however, is that Ireland have lost just once in their last 16 tests. That defeat came in the first test against the Wallabies this year, but Ireland went on to win that series. Of course Argentina has also had success on Australian soil this year and they have looked a more cohesive unit since Mario Ledesma took over the reins in July. They will provide Ireland with stern opposition, but the momentum remains with the team in emerald green.
In closing, France face a wounded Bok-team. The Springboks are on a winning run of six tests against France and won in Paris last year in a game that could have gone either way.
Much has happened since and both teams have moved on to new coaching staff, but both remain inconsistent. The Springboks have won just five of their 11 tests this year and France two of eight under Jacques Brunel, but that includes three away matches in New Zealand where they gave a decent account of themselves. If the Springboks, who will be without injured Eben Etzebeth, can remove the high error rate that contributed to their demise against England, they’ll win. France though will go into this match fresh and should not be discounted.