England v South Africa Betting: The 'big green machine' is ready to click into gear

Stepping up the workrate - South Africa captain Jean de Villiers in training
Stepping up the workrate - South Africa captain Jean de Villiers in training

South Africa's shock defeat in Dublin has seen England installed as favourites for Saturday's International. Ralph Ellis believes the Springboks will be a far better side for the Twickenham game.

"It’s fair to assume South Africa will be kicking and putting points on the board rather than trying to show off their attacking prowess. Odds against at 2.3611/8 for a team that England have not beaten in the last 11 meetings seems astonishing value."


In racing they talk about a horse "needing a run". No matter how well it has been going on the gallops in the early morning with the trainer watching, it takes a race to give it the extra bit of puff needed to win the next one.

Humans aren't a lot different. It's why managers in all sports make sure they plan a good progression of pre-season games before the campaign kicks off for real - and why touring teams who turn up a few days before their first big Test often under-perform and get beaten.

That seems to be pretty much what happened to South Africa in Ireland last weekend. The Springboks looked to be potential World Cup winners after ending the 22-match unbeaten run of the All Blacks, but then didn't play again for five weeks before arriving for the Autumn internationals.

As if that wasn't bad enough, they were so sure they could simply click their turbo-charged rolling mauls into action that they ignored several easily kickable penalties in the opening phase at the Aviva Stadium. When that didn't work their discipline fell to bits, and with hooker Adriaan Strauss sin-binned for a reckless tackle, Ireland ended up recording a famous 29-15 victory.

It's worth bearing all that in mind before you start thinking about backing England against the South Africans at Twickenham this weekend at their odds-on price of 1.834/5. The Springboks side which Stuart Lancaster's men will face are going to be a very different proposition from the ones who played in Dublin.

First, they will have got the competitive legs back. Five weeks on the training field is all very well, but it doesn't add the edge of both fitness and mentality that a proper match does. Coach Heyneke Meyer didn't only agree not to have any friendly games in that period, he also insisted on all his contracted players being kept out of Currie Cup games with their clubs to give them a good rest period with next year's World Cup in mind.

The All Blacks, in contrast, had played twice in low-grade friendlies during the same period and that's why they could find a way to win - as they so often do - after going behind in the early stages against England.

Next, the Springboks know they fell below standard in Dublin and the word coming from their camp is that the first training sessions since have been full of extra edge and intensity as captain Jean de Villiers and his men seek to put faults right.

Give them a penalty within range of the posts in the first half this weekend, and it's fair to assume they'll be kicking and putting points on the board rather than trying to show off their attacking prowess. Odds-against at 2.3611/8 for a team that England have not beaten in the last 11 meetings seems astonishing value.

England's patched up team rose well to the challenge of the All Blacks, but there are more injury changes being forced by the news that new boy Semesa Rokoduguni has broken down with a thigh injury.

The South Africans are considered to have the most ferocious set of forwards in world rugby, and England's attacking skills coach Mike Catt referred to it as a "big green machine". That spells danger - especially as the machine will now be properly tuned and ready to go into top gear.

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