In the first round of this year’s November international we were treated with some fine and some less fine performances. At the current stage their is a bit of a stalemate between the Southern and Northern hemisphere teams. Here is what we can expect in Round 2:
Italy vs New Zealand
This past weekend the All Blacks reiterated why they are a force to be reckoned with. Even with a side showcasing 10 changes they managed to keep momentum and even though Scotland at times became threatening, the All Blacks kept their cool and managed to win the game quite comfortably in the end.
Italy on the other hand managed to scrape home narrowly against minnow team Tonga. I foresee that they will receive a major beating come Saturday. The All Blacks will most likely be without flanker Andrew Thompson due to suspension, but their squad isn’t lacking in depth and therefore it shouldn’t be a problem for them. Expect Dan Carter to once again be the center of attention as he masterfully controls the game from number 10 (once he comes on off the bench).
My Superbru prediction: All Blacks by at least 24.
England vs Australia
England managed to convincingly beat Fiji over the past weekend and even though Fiji is often considered as a ‘minnow’ team, England showed why Stuart Lancaster and they as team have some potential for the future. They come up against Australia, who in my opinion were lucky to only lose by 33-6 against France.
Robbie Deans’ bad run still continues and I don’t think that this team has the potential or the depth to turn this poor form around very soon. Pouring on to their misery is the suspension of Rob Simmons posing an even bigger challenge to the depth of this injury depleted squad. I personally feel that this game will largely be won or lost by the kickers or maybe if the weather holds up we will be treated by some running rugby. Still I don’t think that England is the best team that they will come up against and the result should be relatively close.
My Superbru prediction: England by 6.
France vs Argentina
Let me begin by admitting that Argentina has really surprised me this year. Getting the chance to play more international rugby, they’ve taken the challenge by the throat and showed some big guns (excuse me for getting poetically a little loose here!) Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe has really led the team well and this Argentine team will continue to upset some larger rugby playing nations in the future. For the upcoming round they’ve made a few changes to accommodate more experience against a France team who looked particularly dangerous against the Australians.
As I stated earlier, I think that the Aussies were lucky to only lose by 27 points. Freddy Michalak was extraordinary as pivot and combine with that Yannick Nyanga relishing his return to international rugby; all resulting in the Wallabies having their hands full. This will be the third time that France and Argentina play each other in 2012. Being equal on one win each. Although the Argentines are not to be underestimated I still feel that France should win this game. There is something different to the style and morale of France as team since coach Saint Andre took over from Marc Lievremont. In round two we will be treated with more of Les Bleus’ flair!
My Superbru prediction: France by 9.
South Africa vs Scotland
The Springboks overturned a halftime deficit to eventually beat Ireland by 4. It wasn’t a pretty game, but as they say: a win is a win. As Springbok supporters we are very loyal to the jersey but we are also very critical. So then the question: What was the problem? I’ll limit it to two elements: silly mistakes and bad discipline. Maybe we can blame referee Barnes? But all in all we have to agree that we were our own worst enemies. Coach Heyneke Meyer has made two changes to the starting lineup: Juan de Jongh at 13 and Gurthro Steenkamp coming in to replace the Beast.
The only changes I still think should be considered is Jaco Taute getting a run at 15, Lwazi Mvovo over Francois Hougaard and Elton Jantjies on the bench. I’m glad that Pat Lambie is getting an extended run and although he missed a few kicks I’m not too worried as the often wet and damp fields really pose challenges to the kicker in terms of getting power from their planting feet. I foresee that he will make a huge difference come Saturday.
The Springboks face a Scottish team who will be looking to make amends for the past weekend’s thrashing. And still imprinted in the mind of every Springbok fan would be the previous European tour where we managed to start with a win only to fall short against Scotland. On any given day this Scottish team shouldn’t be underestimated and with the likes of newcomer Tim Visser they should be watched carefully. Still I feel that Scotland isn’t as threatening (I’m stating this very carefully) as Ireland and the Boks should be able to win the game.
My Superbru prediction: Springboks by 8.
Wales vs Samoa = Wales by 8.
Last weekend I managed a success rate of 83%; let’s hope for full marks in round 2 and let’s hope the Bokke get off to a better start!