Thursday, November 29, 2012

I'm going New Zealand, Wales, and Leinster to scrape by Zebre

Starting off with the internationals –one game is going to brought to me by the wonders of Sky+, one last chance for the heavyweights of the south to bully the North :)

England New Zealand is the match I’m going to watch. I’d love to see England give the AB’s a good game, and it could be a lot closer than people think. I reckon the NZ front row is going to be under pressure, and as England haven’t lived up to their potential this Autumn, the AB’s are going to be taking this pretty lightly.  England’s success or failure to me is going to depend on their loose trio – probably to be Morgan, Robshaw and Wood. Theway they carry the ball up, make a nuisance of themselves at the breakdown, and provide covering tackles for the English backline is going to determine the gap between the teams. With Flood out – I don’t really think Farrell or Burns are ready yet for the big time, hard to see an England win. But if England can get in New Zealand’s faces, disrupt their fast ball, smash them in the tackle, make a mess of the scrums, they could pull off a shocker. The awesome England women’s team play the Black Ferns after the men’s match, having already wrapped up the series 2-0.

Wales Australia is also a great match to look forward to. Wales have kind of sleep walked into this Autumn series, thinking their reputation and talent was going to see them through. A good warm up against Argentina and Samoa to test a few weaknesses, before the big boys arrived. O-3 doesn’t make pretty reading, and it won’t get any easier against the Aussies, probably the most astute of the SH teams at playing the right game for the right team. My reading of Wales is that they need to up their physicality big big time, and get their forwards to make some space until they even think about giving the ball to their backs. And their backs needs to stop trying to run over people, and look for offloads, running angles, chip kicks to make ground. Australia are there for the taking, France showed that, and with Welsh desperation at record levels, I’m going with a home victory.

In the Rabo Pro 12, Leinster take on Zebre in what should be an easy win. SOB continues his comeback, and add in all the returning internationals (including Michael Bent and Heinke VDM) and it could be some more festival rugby. Connacht have a touch encounter with Edinburgh – sure Dan Parks will  want to make his mark there, Munster have Glasgow, and should bounce back well, with their internationals, from a shock defeat to the Scarlets. Finally, Ulster travel to the Scarlets where I fancy they will keep their 100% record.
Saturday , December 1
Wales vs Australia 14:30
England vs New Zealand 14:30
RaboDirect PRO12
Friday , November 30
Ospreys vs Cardiff Blues 19:05
Saturday , December 1
Benetton Treviso vs Newport Gwent D'gons 14:00
Connacht vs Edinburgh 17:00
Leinster vs Zebre 18:00
Munster vs Glasgow 19:45
Sunday , December 2
Scarlets vs Ulster 16:00

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