Autumn Internationals Preview – England vs South Africa, Wales vs New Zealand and Scotland vs Tonga

20/11/2012 no comments »
Autumn Internationals Preview – England vs South Africa, Wales vs New Zealand and Scotland vs Tonga

England vs South Africa

England last time out came up short and suffered a setback to Stuart Lancaster’s rebuild as they lost 14-20 to Australia. England will be disappointed by the defeat, but will be hoping for bigger and better performances against the Springboks on Saturday. Lancaster will have selection headaches for the upcoming match. Chris Ashtons place is a talking point, with him not registering a try in his last 9 test matches, as well as having Ugo Monye breathing down his neck for the place on the wing. Also, under pressure is Toby Flood who seems to have his kicking boots in order, however with Owen Farrell in close contention, Lancaster could field a hugely changed side to the one that faced Australia.
South Africa are a completely different team to Australia.

The Springboks ran out winners against Scotland 14-10 and notched their wins in this tour to 2 out of 2. They will bring a more physical, direct approach to England’s defence. They bullied Scotland from the off and despite not scoring in the second half they always looked favourites to win the game, and this will be no different against England on Saturday. Adriaan Strauss scored 2 tries at the weekend and will be brimming full of confidence heading into the game against England. With the likes of Jean de Villiers and Juan de Jongh at centre, the Springboks boast a very successful defence as well as attack and will cause England problems all over the place. England has their worries and concerns ahead of the match against South Africa and will need to play their best in order to stand a chance. South Africa will be looking to continue the good form they have showed recently, and will be hoping for another victory on British soil.

Wales vs New Zealand

Wales face an uphill struggle to end their terrible form of recent times. Losing to Samoa at the weekend made that their 5th successive straight loss, and New Zealand won’t be an easy team to play against to turn around this losing streak. Wales seem to be suffering without the guidance of Warren Gatland who was appointed the British and Irish Lions head coach. He will be back in charge for the New Zealand game and his Captain Sam Warburton firmly believes there could be a big upset on the cards at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday. Their defence was shaky from the first whistle, and if New Zealand sniff a single ounce of fear in the Welsh eyes they will post a significant score on the board.

New Zealand started this tour of the Northern Hemisphere with two massive victories. Firstly against Scotland and then last weekend against Italy. They are proving that they are worthy World Champions. They are also proving to be quite the attacking team with the likes of Ma’aa Nonu running the show from centre, in attack and defence. Leading points scorer Dan Carter started on the bench against Italy, proving the depth and class throughout the squad that New Zealand possess at their mercy. The All-Blacks are undefeated in their last 20 test matches. New Zealand will be confident of a win against a winless Welsh side in 5 matches, however, over confidence could spoil their evening as Wales look to end a 24 series losing streak against New Zealand.

Ireland vs Argentina

Ireland played a young side in their last match against Fiji and ran out convincing winners 53-0. The display from the youngsters has given head coach Declan Kidney something to think about when his side meets Argentina at the weekend. Needing to win to probably stay in the top 8 world rankings, Kidney will have to choose whether to include influential young wingers Craig Gilroy and Fergus McFadden after impressing in the game at the weekend. Kidney admitted that regulars Tommy Bowe and Andrew Trimble will have to step up their game in order to keep their place in the side.

Argentina has become a greater opposition in recent times, and will certainly be a test for Ireland on Saturday. Two weeks ago they toppled Wales at the Millennium Stadium in a convincing display, and last weekend came close to beating France, but came up marginally short. Argentina have Sanchez with his kicking boots firmly on, kicking penalties, drop goals and conversions in both matches. With Argentina only one place above Ireland in the world rankings, Ireland will be spurred on to beat the Argentineans to secure a top 8 ranking, however Ireland shouldn’t under estimate the power and speed possessed in the Argentina side.

Scotland vs Tonga

Scotland could be without Ritchie Gray for their match against Tonga at the weekend after he suffered concussion in the defeat against South Africa. Scotland will look to turn around a dismal Autumn series and will be hopeful of a win on Saturday. Expected to drop out of the top 8 in the world, they will be hoping to prove they are no push overs. They lacked a certain edge to their attacking play, which will be something to improve on for the next test.

Tonga didn’t play last weekend but the weekend before pushed Italy all the way in a 28-23 loss. They will want to end on a high in the Northern Hemisphere and will prove to be a contest for the Scots. They have the scoring attributes to cause problems for Scotland’s flapping defence. This could be a close fought game, with both teams looking to secure a win. A win won’t help the rankings for Scotland, although will boost morale of the team.

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