Preview: Autumn Internationals, Week 3
Wales vs New Zealand, Millennium Stadium, 17:15, Saturday
For John Keats, autumn was the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness; thus far for Wales it has been the season of SHIT and raging timidness. Their forwards have been bullied by the packs of second/third-tier Southern Hemisphere nations, and the backs have been without guidance, sense or skill. Can they fix it this week? Doubtful in terms of result, but they must in terms of performance.
The team selection itself suggests a lack of direction with Rob Howley using a "one week on, one week off" policy with the 7 and 10 jerseys; a decision that seems unalloyed to any consideration of form or evidence. Priestland is back in this week, despite being awful both vs Argentina, when brought on against Samoa, apparently suffering from some kind of ball phobia that causes him to ship it on via a pass or aimless kick regardless of the game situation in front of him. Warburton is without any form at all, and if the plan is to let him play himself back to the level his class demands he perform at then why drop him in the first place?
Let's face it, not one European Team expects to win against the All Blacks, but Wales and Howley cannot afford another stinker. I fear a week is not long enough to fumigate their current form.
Spotter's Badge: Commentators wax about Jamie Roberts' barnstorming runs, 0.025 seconds later he's stopped dead on the tackle line.
England after the jump, and if you fancy a flutter on any of the matches this Autumn then you can find some great value and deals at FREEbets
England vs South Africa, Twickenham, 14:30, Saturday
England make six changes this week after a flaccid display against the Wallabies. If they achieve nothing else the new personnel up front are required to make them more competitive at ruck time, as a repeat of last week's flabby rucking disgrace is unacceptable. The likes of Morgan, Wood and Launchbury suggest more dynamism will be achieved, but my age and salary suggest I should have more money in the bank than I do, so that's where suggesting gets you.
Can England beat South Africa at home? Yes, but don't be too expectant. Given the last couple of performances England fans should be happy with better rucking and faster ball. Once that is achieved they can turn their attention to Barritt and Tuilagi doing sod all with it and coming up with solutions for that. And, of course, we have the 43rd coming of James Haskell, international rugby's equivalent of an unflushable turd, to look forward to.
Boks by 7 is the B&M call.
Spotter's Badge: Jean de Villiers and Brad Barritt vying to see who can get the edge in the stunning lack of creativity battle in midfield.Tweet
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