England should edge home

  • By: Alex Payne
  • Last Updated: November 17 2012, 14:00 GMT

Sky Sports' Alex Payne looks ahead to the second round of autumn internationals - and thinks England will edge past Australia.

England v Australia

England's big win over Fiji last Saturday and Australia's thumping by France later in the day has seen the Wallabies' handicap gently climbing all week, but my gut feeling is heading in the other direction.

While England are settled, have Chris Ashton back and will fancy scrumtime I think their inexperience becomes more of a factor this weekend. If things go wrong, have they got the ability to find a way out?

Australia are hugely motivated and rarely have two bad games in a row. They have one of their most dangerous weapons back in Digby Ioane while Berrick Barnes and Kurtley Beale will swap in and out of 10 to enhance their attacking game.

Remember, too, that they recently drew with the All Blacks and won in Argentina with a patched-up outfit in the final round of the Rugby Championship.

The Wallabies' eight-point point start feels too big to me, but I'm sticking with England to win by 1-5 points at 5/1.

If you're looking for more of gamble, with rain likely I think England may keep it tight early on. With half of England's pack from Leicester a good old-fashioned catch and drive may well bring rewards for Thomas Waldrom at 20/1 or Tom Youngs at 33/1 as first try scorer.

Finally and for a bit of fun, in the last three games between these two we've had four double try scorers - Beale, Ioane and Adam Ashley-Cooper are all dangerous in that regard for Australia but I'm going to fan the hype and back England wing Ashton for a try double at 7/1. He's hungry, has a point to prove and loves scoring against the Wallabies.

But I think a +11 handicap for Samoa is too big, and I'm also going for the visitors to win at 7/2.

Ireland XV v Fiji

I don't think Ireland should have too many problems at Thomond Park - they've picked a pretty gnarly pack with plenty of potential in the backline, and there's always a heavyweight bench to call upon if needed.

Ireland should be fitter and more motivated after the loss to South Africa, a loss which had plenty of positives when you consider the number of big names missing.

Try scorers become a bit of a lucky dip in games like these, but two things interest me - playing the overs on the Fijian points and a red card at 12/1. I think it could get a little fiery and Fiji have already collected three yellows in their two tour games so far.

Scotland v South Africa

It is two wins each in the last four between the Scots and Boks at Murrayfield, with the last two decided by just four points.

The problem for Scotland is that those results often come down to Bok disinterest - they'd possibly rather be on the beaches of Cape Town and Durban at this time of year!

But having sleptwalked through the first half against Ireland, I think they'll be a lot more switched on this week.

While Scotland were chasing shadows at times against the All Blacks, South Africa's attack is easier to track but the challenge comes through brute force.

I'm going to stick with my back-row tryscorers for the Boks - all three are 9/2 anytime and Francois Louw in particular has been superb recently.

Tim Visser's double against New Zealand means there's not much value around him now as a 2/1 anytime try scorer, but David Denton at 15/2 for the Scots might be worth a nibble. I always like to find players who've got a little bit more to play for and Denton was born in Zimbabwe, so this will be a special afternoon for him.

Overall though, I think the Boks might find their groove this week and come through by more than their -10 handicap.

Alex's weekend accumulator

Finally the accumulator for England, Samoa, Ireland and South Africa is available at 7/1. Three favourites and an upset? Here's hoping!


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