Autumn Internationals: Scotland to keep it close against Springboks

Stuart Hogg
Stuart Hogg attacks during Scotland's win over Australia

Simon Mail previews a busy weekend of international rugby including Scotland's game with South Africa and Ireland's clash against the All Blacks...

"Scotland are clearly improving but South Africa's experience and ability to manage games should give them the edge."

Scotland v South Africa
Saturday, 13:00
Live on Amazon Prime Sport

Scotland buoyed by win over Wallabies

Scotland pulled off a significant scalp with victory over Australia last week but Gregor Townsend's side will need to raise their level again to topple world champions South Africa on Saturday. Debutant Ewan Ashman and Hamish Watson scored for the hosts, with Finn Russell's penalty edging them to a 15-13 victory at Murrayfield.

South Africa were pushed all the way by Wales but found a way to clinch a 23-18 victory. The Springboks have been short of their best recently but are still formidable opponents. Full-back Willie le Roux, fly-half Elton Jantjies and lock Franco Mostert come in as three changes for South Africa. Scotland hand wing Rufus McLean his second start but Watson is surprisingly dropped to the bench.

The Springboks have to cover a six-point handicap as favourites which underlines this Murrayfield clash is expected to be close.

Scotland are clearly improving but South Africa's experience and ability to manage games should give them the edge. The world champions eventually ground out a win in Cardiff and the most likely outcome is for them to secure another narrow success. A bet on a win by no more than 12 points appeals at 7/4.

Ireland v New Zealand
Saturday, 15:15
Live on Channel 4

Ireland ready for ultimate challenge

Ireland produced a dominant attacking performance against Japan and they will have to be ruthless on Saturday when they host New Zealand. The All Blacks provide the ultimate test in rugby but Ireland warmed up with an impressive 60-5 victory over Japan. Johnny Sexton marked his 100th cap with a try and the fly-half's experience will be relied upon against New Zealand.

sexton japan.jpg

The All Blacks were far from their best as a second string team defeated Italy 47-9 last weekend. New Zealand are back at full strength to face Ireland with Beauden Barrett at fly-half and his brother Jordie returning at full-back. Farrell has opted to make only one change with lock Iain Henderson replacing Tadhg Beirne.

New Zealand dismantled Ireland 46-14 in their World Cup quarter-final two years ago but it should be much closer in Dublin. Ireland have won two of the last four meetings suggesting the hosts cannot be discounted at 4.67/2. But the All Blacks are favoured to prevail with a narrow victory appealing at 21/10. Four of their last five clashes between them have been settled by under 12 points and New Zealand can hold off Ireland in another tight contest.

Wales v Fiji
Saturday, 15:15
Live on Amazon Prime Sport

Wales push world champions all the way

Wales gave world champions South Africa a scare last weekend and Wayne Pivac's side will be expected to win convincingly in their home game against Fiji. A try from Malcolm Marx in the last ten minutes edged the Springboks to victory in Cardiff. Wales were left frustrated after a potential opening for Liam Williams was controversially scuppered by a pitch invader in the second half.

Wing Alex Cuthbert has been handed his first start for Wales for four years as he lines up in the hosts' backline. Wasps flanker Thomas Young returns in the sole change to the pack as Pivac faces the team he coached for three years earlier in his career. Wales are 14-point favourites for this match although their last three wins over Fiji have been by no more than 12 points.

A better bet is to back Josh Adams to score for Wales. Pivac has decided to move the wing into the centre position but he should still have plenty of attacking opportunities for the hosts.

Adams scored a hat-trick in Wales' 29-17 win over Fiji in the 2019 World Cup, the last match between the teams.

Wales should be too strong for their opponents and Adams can adapt to his new role by crossing the line at 7/5 in a home win.

Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster

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