England v New Zealand, Saturday 15:00
After some fairly diabolical form in 2018, there’s a suspicion that England are finding their feet again under Eddie Jones. They’ve beaten South Africa twice in quick succession, albeit aided by an ‘interesting’ decision not to penalise Owen Farrell for a high tackle last weekend – a refereeing choice that may have given the Springboks a chance to win the game.
Still, penalty or not, there’s no guarantee England would have lost had an offence been signalled, so the Sweet Chariot rolls on at Twickenham. Up next are New Zealand, a far more daunting proposition than South Africa.
Our traders have set the handicap at (+14) for England, meaning they reckon the All Blacks will win by just over a two-converted-try margin. But, given England’s recent upturn in fortunes, we think this will be tighter. Only a madman would suggest England might win, but a narrow 5-7 point loss is surely on the cards.
Wales v Australia, Saturday 17:20
Normally, match odds aren’t worth the time of day when it comes to betting on rugby.
In this case, however, we’re very interested: Wales are 4/6 to win, with Australia 11/10. Stranger things have happened, but we’re discounting the draw at 20/1.
Australia haven’t had a great time of it lately, going down to New Zealand away and twice at home to Ireland. Sure, those are the two current best teams in the world, but momentum is often key in rugby, and certainly far more so than in comparison to football, for example.
So we’re erring on the side of Wales here. They’re at home in Cardiff, where very few beat them – though funnily enough Australia did exactly that in this same fixture a year ago (and then went on to get thrashed by England and Scotland). Despite the Wallabies’ success at the Millennium Stadium in 2017, we don’t think lightning is going to strike twice, so we’re backing the Welsh to take this one after an impressive showing last week against Scotland.
With the handicap on Wales at (-2) – price: 10/11 – we’d suggest there’s better value in the straight match odds.
Pick: Wales to win – 4/5
Ireland v Argentina, Saturday 18:30
First things first on this match: we don’t fancy the handicap of (-18) on Ireland, particularly not as part of a treble.
Argentina are no mugs, and continuously cause trouble for Irish sides. In many ways, they’re Ireland’s biggest bogey side, and although not necessarily as strong as in previous years, they’re still a very tricky proposition. Ireland’s winning form shouldn’t get in the way of paying them due respect.
That said, we’re also not sure about the (+18) on Argentina, so we’ve turned our attention to the Alternative 2-way Handicaps.
As part of a treble, we’re pretty happy with 4/7 as a price, so Argentina (+21.5) seems attractive. It’s hard to see the Pumas losing by 22 points or more unless the home side really cuts loose in the final 15 minutes – which, to be fair, is a possibility. A tight, closely fought low-scoring game doesn’t seem unrealistic, despite Ireland’s free-scoring ways.
We’re putting our faith in Argentina to stay within touching distance.