The first full weekend of summer test matches proved to be a high scoring spectacle with tries aplenty. Overall our computer fared well accurately predicting eight from nine results, with only Argentina v Wales going against us.
A few thoughts about each game are below, along with the lead into this weekend. To jump a specific article click the links below:
New Zealand v France
Went largely as predicted. France showed promise in the first half before the Kiwis cut loose in the second, scoring 44 unanswered points. There was some controversy regarding the use, and lack of use, of cards but, in our opinion, it wouldn’t have affected the match. France had no answer to New Zealand when they turned it on.
This week it will be interesting to see if France can dust themselves off and recover from such a beating, or if that was their best chance to record a win. An interesting statistic that was uncovered this week by 1014 was that New Zealand haven’t lost the second test of the year since 1994, also against France, so depending on how you look at it, history is with or against them in this respect.
The computer doesn’t give the French much hope however, predicting another comfortable New Zealand win, by 28 points.
Australia v Ireland
Off the back of their Grand Slam triumph fans may have expected a stronger showing from Ireland against Australia. Joe Schmitt chose to keep much of his powder dry with Jonny Sexton amongst others starting on the bench. Overall the Australian team edged the tie throughout, but we expect the remaining matches to be close encounters too. Of slight concern might be the lack of tries for Ireland with Australia producing an excellent defensive effort and Israel Folau offering effective ‘bomb’ disposal, negating one of Ireland’s most dangerous offensive weapons.
This weekend, Joe Schmitt has opted to bring out his ‘A’ team, with Sexton and a host of other Leinster players starting. Ireland generally have had a better record in Melbourne than elsewhere in Australia, with their losses there being by 6 and 1 points respectively, compared to their average loss in Australia being by 11 points.
There is also some evidence to suggest that the Wallabies are stronger in Brisbane than elsewhere in Australia, so perhaps this weekend will be the best chance for the Irish. Neither this, nor team selection, currently feeds into our model, so it still suggests a tight Australian win. It is entirely possible however, that these qualitative factors may swing the balance in the Irish favour.
South Africa – England
A topsy turvy game that will increase the pressure from critics on Eddie Jones both in terms of team selection and playing structure. England looked to be in a commanding position amassing an early 3-24 lead but a lack of game control allowed the Springboks back into the game with the half time score 29-27. Credit must go to the enthusiasm of South Africa and ability to quickly address defensive alignment issues. By contrast England failed to adapt to changing threats from South Africa and only late tries from Itoje and May brought the wining margin back to a close 42-39.
Similar to Australia in Brisbane, there is some evidence to suggest South Africa are stronger in Ellis Park (which we all already know, but it is interesting to see it borne out in the data!), however South Africa have also recorded some good wins in Bloemfontein, and are strong there as well.
It was however, the location of the last English win in South Africa, back in 2000, so perhaps there is some history in there for the English. Our computer gives South Africa as favourites for this match, but not by much, so there is plenty of hope for English fans this weekend.
However, we do think that the best chance of an English win will come on the final weekend, in Cape Town, traditionally where South Africa are weakest.
Argentina v Wales
A good result for Wales on Argentinian soil and bucking their recent poor run of away performances. If you noted our comment on odds appearing mispriced pre match then well done on earning a some extra pocket money.
Argentina seemed out of sorts, and didn’t really offer much going forward. It will be interesting to see if they can reverse this on Saturday, but if they can’t, it is difficult to see anything but another Welsh win at the weekend.
The Welsh performance last weekend has flipped the predictions for this weekend, with the Welsh now favourites to take the series, 2-0.
Japan v Italy
The Japanese stormed to a greater than expected victory against the Italians, winning 34 – 17. The match was tight for much throughout, but the Japanese displayed great professionalism in controlling the game, taking their chances, and upping it where required to stretch their lead.
Japan have been on the rise recently, and our computer makes them strong favourites to defeat the Italians again this weekend.