Italy v Australia, Saturday 14:00
We’ve said if before and we’ll say it again: Italy are crap.
Australia, despite losing to Wales last week, are not totally crap. Therefore, the Wallabies should win. The only question is by how much.
Against the Welsh, Oz failed to register a try (as did Wales), so you’d be tempted to imagine this might be a low-scoring match. But then you remember just how bad Italy are, and you begin to laugh. ‘Oh dear, what was I thinking,’ you ask yourself with a smile.
Australia will batter Italy. Everyone seems to batter Italy these days. It’s just how things go. So, we’re looking at either the Winning Margin of Aus 13+ at 4/9 or the Team B Points market of Aus Over 35.5 points (4/5).
Since we’re backing a treble, the Winning Margin is a possibility – take that if you want to play things a bit safer. But for a little bit of added value, we’re going for the Over 35.5. In their last six matches against Tier 1 nations, Italy have conceded 36 or more on four occasions (in those other two matches, they shipped 34 and 29).
Pick: Australia to score Over 35.5 points in the match – 4/5
Scotland v South Africa, Saturday 17:20
Scotland are very hard to predict. One minute they’re beating England and France, the next they’re losing to the USA or scraping past Italy. The general thread in 2018 has been that they’re very good at home, and poor enough on the road.
This week, South Africa pitch up at Murrayfield aiming build on last Saturday’s victory over France in Paris. The Springboks beat the French 29-26, which followed narrow losses to England (one point) and New Zealand (two points). Six of their 11 matches this year have been decided either way by five points or less.
That, along with Scotland’s strength at home, puts the spread at 3. But we’re not sure we can rely on either team to do our bidding, in light of what we’ve mentioned above. So we’re looking to individuals instead, and the best value in that regard looks to be on Stuart Hogg to score a try in 80 mins.
The Scotland fullback has 18 tries in 63 internationals, and is one of the most elusive runners in world rugby. South Africa have been shipping tries with a fairly alarming regularity – that England match aside – while Scotland have been scoring them for fun at Murrayfield. Who better to take advantage of both than Hogg?
Pick: Stuart Hogg to score a try in 80 mins – 2/1
Ireland v New Zealand, Saturday 19:00
This has been billed as a battle to be named the best team in the world, but in reality, New Zealand are streets ahead of everyone else, including Ireland.
The All Blacks were poor against England last time out, but conditions were atrocious and England played well. It would be too much for the Irish to hope for a repeat of that level of performance from Steve Hansen’s team.
The fact remains that Ireland have only ever beaten New Zealand once, so it’s no surprise to see the points spread set at 7 by our traders. The forecast looks mild and dry for Saturday in Dublin, which negates any possible hampering of the ABs by unfriendly weather. So on the face of it there’s not a whole lot to suggest Ireland will win.
Hence why we’re not going to back them to do so. The straight (-7) on New Zealand is a tempter, so anyone who thinks the visitors will take it by eight or more probably won’t be going too far wrong if they were to back it. But we’re on a treble here, so we’re going for caution. We don’t think there’s much chance of an upset, but to keep things safe, we’re taking New Zealand on the 2 way Handicap of (-2.5) at 1/2.
Pick: New Zealand on the 2-way Handicap of (-2.5) – 1/2Agree/Disagree? Find the latest rugby odds over on paddypower.com