England v South Africa: Jones' depleted side face tough test at Twickenham

Owen Farrell
Owen Farrell is co-captain alongside Dylan Hartley
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England start their autumn internationals with a home clash against South Africa and Simon Mail thinks Eddie Jones' side will not have it all their own way...

"England's record against South Africa does not inspire much confidence with only two wins in the last 16 meetings."

England v South Africa
Saturday, 15:00
Live on Sky Sports Action

Injuries leaving England in danger

England have been hit hard by injuries heading into this season's autumn internationals and Eddie Jones' team will be far from at full strength for their opener against South Africa. His entire back row has had to be rejigged with the loss of Saracens number eight Billy Vunipola a particular sore point. Mako Vunipola, Joe Launchbury, Sam Simmonds and Chris Robshaw are also missing meaning England have significant handicaps to overcome.

It hardly helps that England's form this year has been extremely disappointing and does not suggest this team will head into next year's World Cup as one of the main contenders. After such a brilliant start under Jones, it has all turned sour to the point where his position has been questioned over the summer after six defeats from the last seven matches.

Jones has opted to go with a co-captaincy as Dylan Hartley returns at hooker and he shares the responsibility with fly-half Owen Farrell. Exeter prop Alec Hepburn makes his first start and Mark Wilson is picked at number eight. Ben Te'o starts at inside centre despite only playing 28 minutes for Worcester this season after thigh surgery. It means Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi starts on the bench.

Springboks' revival gathering pace

England's 2-1 series defeat in South Africa adds an extra edge to this weekend's opening Test. New head coach Rassie Erasmus has started the rebuilding process for the Springboks and his decision to integrate younger players such as captain Siya Kolisi has paid off.

South Africa's progress was emphasised in their stunning 36-34 win against world champions New Zealand in Wellington in September. It was a remarkable result and the Springboks almost repeated the win shortly afterwards but the All Blacks fought back from 30-13 down to steal a 32-30 victory. Nevertheless, South Africa are gathering momentum and starting to contend again on the big stage.

The Springboks are not at full strength either with a number of influential players such as Faf de Klerk and Willie le Roux unavailable due to the match falling outside the international window. Duane Vermeulen and Warren Whiteley will start in the back row while Ivan van Zyl is preferred to Embrose Papier at scrum-half.

England's record against South Africa does not inspire much confidence with only two wins in the last 16 meetings. Admittedly these have both come in the last four clashes but the Springboks will have no fear ahead of this match. South Africa have beaten England in five of their last six visits to Twickenham.

The hosts are marginal favourites to win this game but there is no value in siding with England especially after such a poor run against dangerous opponents. It should be a tight contest with neither team expected to win comfortably but the match market looks worth swerving with a tryscorer bet offering the best chance of a return.

One of the main attacking threats for England will be Jonny May and the Leicester winger has a superb record against South Africa. May has scored in each of the last four games against the Springboks and will be relishing the chance to add to his tally this weekend. He has been in potent form for England and May looks worth backing to cross the line again at Twickenham.

Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster


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