The dust has settled on week 2. The final week (for most teams) is nearly upon us – so what’s the schedule and what’s going to happen this Saturday?
THE RUN DOWN
This week sees a few more one sided affairs than the last, with 5 of the 6 matches involving Tier 1 nations having a greater than 80% chance of victory for one side. In theory at least, it should be good week for predictions. Famous last words …
THE ONE TO WATCH
Scotland and Australia is our pick for the match of the weekend, with the Scots looking to record their second victory over the Aussies this year having already beaten them away in Australia over the summer. The Scots ran world champions New Zealand close last weekend, and will be looking to show that that performance was not a one off with a strong showing this weekend.
Australia have been in our ‘One to Watch’ every week so far, a testament perhaps to their exciting brand of rugby, but also perhaps due to the closing of the gap between northern and southern hemisphere rugby in the past few years.
Our model has this match finishing 24 – 22 to the Australians but, when the predictions get this close, the scoreline becomes irrelevant – all that is really worth saying is that this is a match to watch. The Scots will fancy their chances given their results this year, but the Aussies will be looking to make amends for last week’s heavy defeat to England. All to play for.
There are a few close games this weekend (close being a fairly arbitrary measure, but something we define as somewhere around 50-80%), mainly in the Tier 2 matches.
Georgia are predicted to see off the USA in Tbilisi 29 – 16. Having already beaten the US away this year, the Georgians should be looking to back up their strong performance against Wales last weekend and strengthen their case for joining the 6 Nations. Their increase in the world rankings recently shows the improvement they have made in the last few years.
Romania are predicted to have a close match with the Tongans in Bucharest, and win 23 – 21. This should be an evenly matched contest between two similarly ranked teams so it will be interesting to see how it turns out.
Namibia take on Uruguay for the second time in as many weeks in Windhoek, and are predicted to win 32 – 29. Having lost 26 – 52 last weekend, this is the prediction that we feel could go against us, as the model won’t update for recent form in the space of only a week. Upon reading the match report, it would appear the Nambians got off to a bad start and the game was almost over within 20 minutes. We are hopeful therefore, that the Namibians tighten their defence early doors for this week.
ONE SIDED AFFAIRS
There are 5 matches where one side has a greater than 80% of winning.
New Zealand are rarely not the favourites, and indeed are predicted to easily see off Wales this weekend in Cardiff by a margin of 26 points. The Kiwis have had a mixed year by their standards (with 2 losses) so will be looking to finish strong and go into the off season on a high.
Ireland have a chance to avenge their painful 2015 World Cup defeat to Argentina this Saturday when the Pumas visit Dublin. In theory they should win relatively easily but, given last weeks close run encounter against Fiji, perhaps there will be a few nerves in the camp and the Argentines might fancy their chances.
South Africa will also be looking to avenge a previous defeat, that being their first ever to the Azurri last year in Rome. They are predicted to win 22-10, but given their recent ‘hit and miss’ nature, the Italians might sense another opportunity for a win.
France are predicted to easily dispatch of Japan in what should be a very high scoring contest (46 – 30). The Japanese have played well recently however, and usually score a lot of points, so we think this one could perhaps be a little closer than forecasted.
That’s the brief summary for now, please share and follow to see the head to heads later tomorrow.