The nights are drawing in and all rugby union fans know that can only mean the return of international action.
Seven matches featuring sides from opposing hemispheres take place on Saturday and Wales’ clash against Australia looks the highlight from a neutral standpoint.
The Welsh have famously struggled against teams from below the equator, at one stage enduring a six-year winless streak against the so-called ‘Big Three’ and they have lost their last 12 against the Aussies.
However, Warren Gatland showed just how canny an operator he is in guiding the British & Irish Lions to a draw against New Zealand in the summer and with home advantage on his side, plus this hardly being a vintage crop of Wallabies, 6/4 looks an excellent price.
Ireland also find themselves in an unfamiliar situation against a big southern hemisphere nation when South Africa visit Dublin. The Irish claimed a brilliant 29-12 triumph the last time the pair met on European soil and also won last year in Cape Town.
The Boks are currently ‘in transition’, to use a popular phrase, while despite the regular questions regarding Jonathan Sexton’s fitness, the hosts appear in pretty rude health. With the home side a bit short, Ireland to be winning Half-time/Full-time at 11/10 seems reasonable.
Earlier in the day, England and Scotland should also record wins against Argentina and Samoa respectively while Italy and Georgia will not be afraid of Fiji and Canada.
However, the final match is one that often throws up the odd surprise and features two of the great names of international rugby union: France and New Zealand.
Les Bleus remain one of the great enigmas of sport, not just rugby union. With questionable tactics and often puzzling selections seeing them fall short of their potential, they have often lacked the flair and joie de vivre that has characterised their history.
Things seem to be changing but whether or not they can match the All Blacks is another matter. The Kiwis are rightly the favourites, having won on the last 10 occasions the two countries have met.
Guy Noves has again picked an experimental squad although with his side seemingly on the up it is unlikely they will be beaten as badly as in the past.
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