Autumn Internationals: England could struggle against wounded South Africa

England were beaten at Twickenham last weekend by the All Blacks
England were beaten at Twickenham last weekend by the All Blacks

Simon Mail previews England's next match as they look to end their four-match losing run with a win over the hungry Springboks...

"South Africa have won ten of the last 11 meetings against England with the other match finishing in a draw two years ago." 

England v South Africa
Saturday November 15, 14:30
Live on Sky Sports 1

The stakes are high at Twickenham this weekend with two teams beaten last weekend and with points to prove. England against South Africa is always eagerly anticipated but after their recent disappointments the importance of getting a result is only enhanced. The sides are considered second and third favourites respectively for next year's World Cup so expectations are understandably high in both camps.

The hosts come into this match off the back of their 24-21 defeat to New Zealand. There is no disgrace in losing to the best side in the world but it was a performance which again raised question marks over their status as closest challengers to the All Blacks. Stuart Lancaster's side impressed in the first half, building a slender lead, but were dominated after the break and the scoreline arguably flattered them.

This loss was their fourth consecutive defeat and underlined the side have frequently come off second best against the elite southern hemisphere nations. Two wins in 12 meetings against New Zealand, South Africa and Australia for Lancaster demonstrates this team still have some way to go before they should be considered genuine World Cup winners.

England have only made one change to the side beaten by New Zealand. Anthony Watson comes in on the wing to replace injured Bath team-mate Semesa Rokodunguni. Second row Courtney Lawes has overcome concussion to keep his place in the pack. Lancaster has decided to keep faith with his players, rather than make significant changes, as he looks to claim a significant victory over the Springboks.

South Africa slipped to a shock 29-15 defeat in Ireland last Saturday. The visitors looked rusty as they made careless mistakes which were ruthlessly punished by the Six Nations champions. Few predicted this setback but it could certainly go against England with Heyneke Meyer's fired-up team determined to make amends for a rare defeat in Europe. 

Meyer has not been afraid to alter the side with five changes for their latest Test match. Wing JP Pietersen is rewarded for scoring against Ireland by starting in the backline while World Cup winner Schalk Burger is also selected. Half-back pair Cobus Reinach and Pat Lambie are brought in ahead of Francois Hougaard and Handre Pollard as the Springboks look for a positive response at Twickenham. 

Lancaster is yet to claim a win over them in a continuation of a strong recent record for the Springboks in their clashes. South Africa have won ten of the last 11 meetings against England with the other match finishing in a draw two years ago. The last five games have been pretty tight though with ten points the biggest margin of victory.

England start this match as slight favourites but it is very difficult to understand why on the basis of recent history. South Africa have dominated their meetings since their last defeat in 2006 and too much emphasis has been placed on the Irish defeat. The Springboks should be much better for the run-out and are undoubtedly better value than the home side. Pietersen has a decent record against England with four tries in seven games so the wing also looks worth a bet to add to this tally. 

Recommended Bets:
Back South Africa to win by under 12.5 points at 2.767/4Back JP Pietersen to score in the Sportsbook at 3.55/2

Wales v Fiji
Saturday November 15, 14:30
Live on BBC One

Wales suffered more misery last weekend against Australia after falling to a tenth consecutive defeat against the Wallabies. It was another near miss for Warren Gatland's side as the lead switched hands numerous times before Australia won 33-28. The hosts' attacking threat was encouraging as they scored four tries even though the overriding emotion was disappointment yet again.

The hosts are prohibitive short-priced favourites to brush aside Fiji this weekend and Gatland has already said he wants his team to win well. There are eight changes to the side with Mike Phillips and Rhys Priestland returning as half-backs after injuries to Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar. Centre Scott Williams returns to the side which means George North reverts back to the wing. 

Fiji were beaten 40-15 in France last weekend as they warmed up for their trip to Wales. This clash is a precursor to next year's meeting at the Millennium Stadium in the World Cup so there is plenty of significance attached to this game. Ospreys centre Josh Matavesi will be a familiar name in the Fiji team along with Leicester's Vereniki Goneva.

In their last match, Wales demolished Fiji 66-0 in the 2011 World Cup. This went some way to avenging the 38-34 defeat four years earlier which knocked them out of the tournament in France. Both these matches were high scoring and it could be a case of more of the same this weekend. This should be another entertaining encounter with both sides' attack better than their defence so backing more than 57 points is the best bet with Wales far too short in the match market. 

Recommended Bet:
Back total points over 57.5 in the Sportsbook at 1.9110/11

Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster

2014/15 Rugby P/L

Staked: 40pts
Returned: 45.2pts

P/L: +5.2pts

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