Simon Mail previews the second weekend of World Cup warm-ups including Six Nations Grand Slam champions Wales' home game against England...
"Wales defeated England 21-13 at the Principality Stadium in February and the hosts will relish the chance to claim another victory over their rivals."
Wales v England
Live on Sky Sports Action
Wales aiming to respond after Twickenham defeat
Wales were on the brink of climbing to the top of the world rankings but were denied as their 14-match winning run came to an end at Twickenham last Sunday. Warren Gatland's side were slow to get going and despite improving in the second half could not prevent a 33-19 defeat to England. It was a wake up call for the Six Nations champions but no cause for major concern.
A bigger worry for Wales will be several key injuries which have depleted their team heading towards Japan. Fly-half Gareth Anscombe was ruled out of the World Cup after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury during the defeat. This follows on from forward Taulupe Faletau's collarbone injury which has also prevented him from featuring next month.
England building momentum for Japan
England's victory against Wales certainly provided the boost needed heading towards the World Cup, with a team missing plenty of first-choice players overcoming strong opposition. Eddie Jones' side dominated early on at Twickenham with Billy Vunipola underlining his influential role with a try. Luke Cowan-Dickie also scored his first try for England as they put down a marker ahead of Japan.
Jones has already named his 31-man World Cup squad and has not shied away from making some big decisions. Danny Cipriani's absence was always widely expected but Ben Te'o's omission is a surprise, with the centre appearing to pay the price of an altercation with Mike Brown during the training camp in Italy. Northampton flanker Lewis Ludlam has been picked with just one cap while wing Ruaridh McConnochie is selected despite not even playing for England.
Wales defeated England 21-13 at the Principality Stadium in February and the hosts will relish the chance to claim another victory over their rivals. There is very little to separate the teams in the betting although this appears to be an overreaction to last weekend's result. The form of Wales over the last year should not be dismissed off the back of a sluggish performance last week.
Wales should certainly be sharper for last weekend's run-out and the largely settled side have won 14 of their last 15 matches. Their defence is the biggest strength and Gatland will know the importance of claiming a win over another World Cup contender. Wales are generously priced with home advantage and the Grand Slam champions can return to form by defeating England in their second warm-up clash.
France v Scotland
Live on Premier Sports
Scotland likely to fall short in France
France appear no closer to finding a long-term solution to their problems with the side finishing fourth in this year's Six Nations after three defeats. Coach Jacques Brunel still does not appear to know his best team and there are uncertainties particularly in the backline. France cannot afford to start slowly in the World Cup with England and Argentina competing in their pool.
Scotland were another frustrating team in this year's Six Nations with Gregor Townsend's side finishing fifth. Scotland showed their attacking ability, with a mesmerising fightback in their 38-38 draw, against England at Twickenham in the final game but their lack of ruthlessness in narrow home defeats to Ireland and Wales highlighted their limitations.
France can be difficult to trust although Scotland's miserable away record suggests the hosts can win this weekend. Scotland were beaten 27-10 in France back in February and this was their 11th successive defeat in Paris. This weekend's game takes place in Nice but France should still edge to victory by up to 12 points.
Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster
P/L 2019-20 season
Back Wales at [2.04]
Back France to win by 1-12 points @ 15/8 (Sportsbook)