Simon Mail previews a busy weekend of international rugby including Wales v Australia and Ireland's game with Argentina...
"Wales have won the last two contests against the Wallabies and this looks a strong opportunity to extend their winning run."
Wales v Australia
Live on Amazon Prime Sport
Wales aiming to add to Wallabies' run of defeats
Wales round off their November internationals with a home game against Australia and this looks a big opportunity to claim a victory over the Wallabies. Wayne Pivac's side have had to cope without key players such as Alun Wyn Jones but competed fiercely in a 23-18 defeat to world champions South Africa. Wales made hard work of beating 14-man Fiji 38-23 last Sunday, with four tries in the last quarter of the game ending their opponents' resistance.
Australia headed to Europe with confidence after back-to-back victories over the Springboks.
But the tour has not gone to plan with the Wallabies suffering defeats to Scotland and England.
After being edged out by Scotland at Murrayfield, Australia's lacklustre performance at Twickenham resulted in a 32-15 loss.
Wales have won the last two contests against the Wallabies and this looks a strong opportunity to extend their winning run. Both of these victories were by no more than four points and their meetings have invariably been settled by fine margins. Wales will sense this is a big chance to claim another win over Australia and the hosts can sign off the year with a victory by no more than 12 points at 8/5.
Ireland v Argentina
Live on Channel 4
Ireland soaring after All Blacks win
Ireland are expected to end the year on a high against Japan after a hugely impressive victory over New Zealand. The hosts overturned a 10-5 half-time deficit as tries from Ronan Kelleher and Caelan Doris completed a 29-20 win over the All Blacks. Andy Farrell's side clinched their seventh successive victory and are building strong momentum heading into next year's Six Nations.
Farrell will have to manage without Johnny Sexton after the fly-half twisted his ankle and knee during the win over New Zealand. Ireland will also be without Jamison Gibson-Park, with the scrum-half sidelined by a thigh injury. Opponents Argentina were beaten 29-20 by France earlier this month before a 37-16 win in Italy last weekend.
Ireland are strong favourites for this match with the hosts expected to clinch an eighth consecutive win. Even with their absentees, Ireland ought to prevail and they are given a 15-point handicap to cover. Confident Ireland can make a fast start in Dublin and are fancied to cover a seven-point first-half handicap on their way to a winning end to 2021.
Scotland v Japan
Live on Amazon Prime Sport
Scotland unable to hold off Springboks
Scotland will look to round off the year with a confident victory over Japan at Murrayfield. There has been plenty of progress from Gregor Townsend's team in 2021 with the 15-13 win over Australia continuing to underline their development. Stuart Hogg scored twice to become the country's joint top try scorer but South Africa were too strong for them in a 30-15 win last weekend.
A match against Japan will bring back plenty of vivid memories for Scotland after their crushing 28-21 defeat to them at the World Cup in 2019. But while Scotland have responded strongly since this setback, Japan have struggled to push on since their World Cup heroics. Japan were thrashed 60-5 in Ireland earlier in November before a 38-25 win over Portugal in their last match.
Scotland are virtually unbackable in the win market with the hosts needing to cover a 20-point handicap. Whether they can score enough points to achieve this is questionable although Towensend's side should win comfortably enough. Scotland captain Hogg is fresh from his double against the world champions and the full-back is a tempting price at 7/5 to score again in a win over Japan.
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