Rugby Internationals: England have strength in depth and lessons to learn

Danny Care had a good game on in the third Test

Richard O'Hagan reflects on a weekend when England and Wales went close and Ireland took one hell of a beating. Our man also selects Tri-Nations and early Six Nations 2013 bets...

Wales are now 2.89/5 favourites for the Six Nations.
England are 3.185/40 second favourites.

It was another disappointing weekend for northern hemisphere sides as the summer tours drew to a close. England at least took a small consolation from their trip to South Africa, but across the board it was another weekend of lessons not learned.

England's patched up side, missing both captain Chris Robshaw and last week's hero Ben Youngs, put in a creditable performance against a below par Springbok side. They managed to stifle the likes of Bryan Habana and Bismarck du Plessis, but were caught out by their inability to find a winger who could effectively mark JP Pietersen. He collected what looked to be another match winning try before a late English rally levelled the scores at 14-14.

On the plus side, Youngs' replacement Danny Care looked sharp on his return to the full team after his much publicised problems over the winter, scoring England's try from an inspired tap penalty. For almost certainly the first time in English colours, he also managed not to give away a stupid penalty. Alex Goode had an assured first start at full back and coped well when thrust into the role of emergency fly-half whilst Owen Farrell (himself an early replacement for the injured Toby Flood) was in the blood bin. This strength in depth augurs well for the 2013 Six Nations, for which England are now 3.185/40 second favourites.

In Sydney, Wales went down 20-19 to Australia to lose the battle of the hemisphere champions 3-0. It was a fighting performance from the Welsh but for the second time in the three matches their own indiscipline cost them, as they conceded two late penalties to lose a game they should have won. More culpably, the first of those penalties came from an infringement in the Australian 22, which they disputed and conceded a further ten yard punishment. A long kick, a simple lineout win and a further Welsh offence and the Wallabies were back in the game. This wasn't shades of last week, it was shades of Alun Wyn Jones' stupidity at Twickenham in 2010. Wales are now 2.89/5 favourites for the Six Nations.

The less said about Ireland's 60-0 record humiliation by an All Black side resting several first choice players the better. It had its roots in baffling selection: Paddy Wallace came straight into the side after a three day journey, while Fergus McFadden, who plays in the same position as Wallace, was out of position on the wing and winger Andrew Trimble sat on the bench. The team were all over the place in both defence and attack.

The problem was compounded by equally baffling decision-making on the pitch, most glaringly when they opted for a scrum rather than kicking an easy penalty, despite having been bested in every scrummage in the game and playing with an emergency number eight. As a side they were woeful and this was no way for Brian O'Driscoll to bid farewell to the land of the long white cloud. He's likely to opt for one last tilt at the Six Nations but on this performance, 5.24/1 looks justified and arguably a little generous.

The three Southern sides now go on to the revamped Tri-Nations, which also includes Argentina. New Zealand are favourites, but the better bet is definitely Australia, who have ground out three wins against worthy opponents. They appear a more consistent side than the other two and their odds of 4.84/1 look very tempting.

Get a Free £/€20 Exchange Bet

  • Join Now - Open account using promo code VAL225
  • Bet - Place a £/€20 Bet on the Exchange
  • Earn We'll Refund You £/€20 If the Bet Loses

T&Cs apply.

Discover the latest articles