British and Irish Lions v Australia – Test Series Betting Preview

British and Irish Lions v Australia – Test Series Preview

It is the most special and unique event in world rugby, once every four years the British and Irish Lions travel to the other side of the world to take on the best the southern hemisphere has to offer. The class of 2013 are looking to deliver a first test series win in 16 years. Does rugby immortality await Warren Gatland and company or will it be more heartbreak for the home nations. Here is my betting preview for the first test.

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Even with injuries to key players the Lions enter the first test as odds on favourites and are as short as 4/7 (BetVictor), and their record in Brisbane is very difficult to ignore played seven, won seven. Warren Gatland and his players know that if they are to have any chance of winning the series then victory in the first test is essential. In contrast the Australians have been in traning camp for the past three weeks, and haven’t played a together since the Autumn Internationals. The hosts are very generously priced at 13/8 (Bet365), which may tempt a few punters. But its very hard to look past the Lions for victory in this first test, but the value may be in backing the winning margin at 6-10 points at 5/1 (William Hill).

George North passed a late fitness test and will start on the left wing opposite Australia’s latest sensation Israel Folau. The giant Welshman has been in outstanding form on the tour and looks fantastic value at 5/2 (SkyBet) to score a try at anytime. Will Genia is the heartbeat of this Wallabies team, and everything that is good about their play stems from him. His sniping play round the edge of the ruck is the best in world rugby and he is 25/1 (BetFred) to score the first try, and he is 11/2 (Ladbrokes) to score anytime.

The man of the match market is very interesting and provides some very good prices. Brian O’Driscoll has unfinished business with the Lions after coming so close to series wins in 2001 and 2009. Nobody will ever forget his wonderful try in the first test in 2001, and he is definitely a player for the big occasion. He is a best price of 16/1 (Paddy Power) to be named man of the match, and it would be no surprise if he is the catalyst for a Lions victory.

The game is sure to start at breakneck speed, and the Lions will be looking to take advantage of any rustiness in the Australian team. Given their record on this tour of scoring early tries, a Lions try to be the first scoring play is a great bet at a massive 6/1 (SportingBet). A safer option would be the Lions penalty at 8/5 (Paddy Power).

While many including myself expect the Lions to take a 1-0 lead into the second test, it would be no surprise to see Australia win the series 2-1 which is available at 3/1 (Bet365). But if you a very brave it could be worth waiting until after the first test, to back the Wallaby victory which could be a much bigger price if the Lions can win tomorrow.

Best Bets
Lions to win by 6-10 points – 5/1 (William Hill)

Lions try first score – 6/1 (SportingBet)

Brian O’Driscoll Man of the Match – 16/1 (Paddy Power)

Will Genia to score a try – 11/2 (Ladbrokes)

George North to score a try – 5/2 (SkyBet)

Australia to win the series 2-1 – 3/1 (Bet365)

    Heineken Cup Semi-Final Preview 2013

    Heineken Cup LogoThis weekend sees European rugby’s finest tournament has reach the business end, with four sides left fighting it out for a place in the final. Heavy favourites Clermont entertain Munster on Saturday, and on Sunday Saracens clash with Toulon in what is set to be a titanic battle in the forwards.

    Clermont v Munster – 5.00pm (Saturday)

    The first semi-final sees Paul O’Connell’s Munster side travel to the south of France to face a Clermont side who have been in sensational form throughout the tournament.  The Irish province have already shocked Europe when they eliminated Harlequins in the quarter-finals, and they enter this game as massive underdogs and are 7/1 (SportingBet) to overcome the French giants. As expected Clermont enter the game as heavy favourites and there price of 1/8 (Bet365) is fully justified given their performances so far.

    French centre Wesley Fofana has already provided us with a couple of decent wins this season on the first try market, and at 11/1 (Coral) he is fantastic value to open the scoring once again. Another Clermont back who has been firing on all cylinders this year is Sitevini Sivivatu, the former All Black winger scores tries for fun also looks a good price at 8/1 (Coral) to score the first try.

    Other markets that also catch my eye are Clermont to win by 11-15 points 11/2 (Paddy Power) and a Clermont penalty as the first scoring play 6/4 (BetVictor).

    It is really hard to look past Clermont for this match, Munster have been here before but this isn’t the same team of yesteryear and there is almost no chance of them being able to hold the hosts for 80 minutes.

    Saracens v Toulon – 3.00pm (Sunday)

    Unlike the first semi-final this contest is set to be a lot closer and there really is nothing to choose between these two sides. Saracens are top of the Aviva Premiership, while Toulon are second in the Top 14 a point behind Clermont. The bookies really can’t split these two and the prices reflect that, Saracens are a best price of 11/10 (Stan James), while Toulon are slight favourites and generally 4/5 they can be backed at 1/1 (Bet365).

    An interesting bet for the match could be No Try in the match which is 12/1 (Ladbrokes), this game is set to be a tight and tense affair and it would be no surprise to see the game come down to a duel between the kickers. For those looking to back tryscorers David Strettle is a decent price at 14/1 (Paddy Power) to score first. Toulon’s bulldozing centre Matthieu Bastareaud has been in great form and provides good value at 6/1 (Ladbrokes) to score at anytime.

    On the points market Toulon by 1-5 is an attractive price at 5/1 (BetFred) and Toulon penalty as the first scoring play is also a good bet at 17/10 (Paddy Power). On the HT/FT market I like the look of Saracens/Toulon which is 7/1 (SkyBet).

    Toulon were my ante-post selection and I can’t back against them now, they have all the talent in the world and may just prove too powerful for a very game Saracens side.

     

    Weekend Best Bets

    Toulon to win – evens (Bet365)

    Toulon by 1-5 points – 5/1 (BetFred)

    Wesley Fofana 1st try – 11/1 (Coral)

    Clermont by 11-15 points – 11/2 (Paddy Power)

      Six Nations Round Four Preview 2013

      Six Nations Round Four Preview

      The 2013 Six Nations enters its penultimate round of action this weekend, and once again there are fascinating matches at both ends of the table. Wales travel to Scotland who are enjoying resurgence under Scott Johnson and are looking to take second spot in the table. The surprise strugglers France face Ireland in Dublin, with Les Bleus still searching for their first victory. While England should have no problems dispatching Italy to keep hopes of a first Grand Slam in ten years well and truly alive.

      Scotland v Wales – Saturday (2.30pm)
      Scotland have been the surprise package of the 2013 Six Nations, they entered the tournament low on confidence and on the back of an embarrassing defeat to Tonga. But interim-coach Scott Johnson has managed to get the best out his squad, and they sit third in the table after their miraculous win over Ireland last time out. Wales started the tournament with defeat at home to Ireland but have since picked up wins against Italy and France; there are signs that Rob Howley’s side are starting to find their form again.

      Wales enter the match as odds on favourites and are priced at 1/2 (Ladbrokes), but are as short as 4/9 Bet365. Scotland are a best price of 9/4 (SportingBet) and this looks a very attractive bet in what should be a tight affair, and if the hosts can still be within touch going into the final 20 minutes they could snatch the win just as they did against Ireland. Scotland are also well handicapped with a +5 start priced at evens (Bet365).

      Another attractive bet is on the half time/full time market with Wales/Scotland a massive 10/1 (SkyBet). On the try-scorer markets there are plenty of options on both sides, Stuart Hogg has served us well so far this year and is again worth backing to score anytime at 11/2 (SkyBet). Welsh full-back Leigh Halfpenny scored in this fixture last season and provides good value 14/1 (Stan James) to score the first try.

      Ireland v France – Saturday (5.00pm)
      France have been the biggest disappointment of this year’s Six Nations and have failed to register a win in their first three matches, but they do have a fantastic record against Ireland and showed signs of promise in defeat to England. Ireland are probably still in a state of shock after their defeat to Scotland, they dominated every facet of the match but were unable to finish off the chances they created.

      France are rightly favourites for the match at a best price of 10/11 (BlueSq) their pack I monstrous and should win the arm wrestle at the breakdown. Ireland aren’t too far behind in the market and are priced at 11/10 (Paddy Power), but with an inexperienced fly-half and key players missing it is tough to see them overcoming Les Bleus.

      The half time/full time market has thrown up another good priced bet with the Draw/France priced at 25/1 (SkyBet). Irish centre Luke Marshall may be lacking in experience but showed some flashes of quality against Scotland, and looks a nice price at 20/1 (Ladbrokes) to score the first try. Wesley Fofana showed just how good he is with an outstanding solo try against England, and provides tremendous value at 4/1 (SkyBet) to score anytime.

      England v Italy – Sunday (3.00pm)
      England suffered a difficult opening 40 minutes against France two weeks ago, but the power of their bench made the difference in the second half and they ended up as comfortable winners. Italy started the tournament with a historic victory over France, but have failed to match that level of performance since and will be dreading facing an England side full of confidence.

      As expected England are overwhelming favourites and are as short as 1/250 (SkyBet). Italy are a massive 40/1 (SportingBet) and there is little chance they can cause the biggest of upsets on Sunday.

      Given England’s current form and their past form at Twickenham against the Azzuri, over 5.5 tries at 5/4 (BlueSq) looks a solid bet. On the try scoring markets it is difficult to look past Manu Tuilagi for first scorer at 8/1 (Coral) and is also worth backing to score anytime at evens (Coral). Elsewhere for England scrum-half Danny Care is 7/4 (Paddy Power) to score anytime, and an interesting selection is Tom Croft to score anytime which is a massive 11/1 (Coral). The Leicester flanker returns to squad for the first time in 11 months, and entering the final quarter his pace and power could be utilized against a tiring defence and his try scoring record makes him an attractive bet.

      Weekend Best Bets
      Scotland to win – 9/4 (SportingBet)

      Stuart Hogg anytime scorer – 11/2 (SkyBet)

      Wesley Fofana anytime scorer – 4/1 (SkyBet)

      Draw/France – 25/1 (SkyBet)

      Manu Tuilagi 1st try – 8/1 (Coral)

      Tom Croft anytime scorer – 11/1 (Coral)

        Six Nations 2013 Round Two Betting Preview

        Six Nations
        Six Nations Round Two Preview

        The opening round of action in the 2013 Six Nations was one of the most exciting in the tournaments history with each game providing plenty of tries and drama. We are set for more of the same in round two, here is my preview and best bets.

        Scotland v Italy – 2.30pm
        Italy produced the result of round one with a stunning 23-18 upset of favourites France in Rome, and now they have their sights set on a second victory as they travel to Murrayfield to face Scotland. The hosts were completely outplayed by a confident England side at Twickenham and they know they must up the physicality of their game to avoid another defeat.

        Despite the contrasting performances of the sides the bookies are still siding with Scotland making them odds on favourites, at a best price of 8/13 (Coral), while Italy are a best price of 15/8 (SportingBet). On the handicap market I really like Italy +5 at evens (Paddy Power), this game is going to be a tight affair and I just cannot see Scotland winning by 6 points.

        Before the tournament started I tipped this game as the lowest scoring of the tournament and I am sticking by that call. Under 36 total points is priced at evens (William Hill) but the bet I really like is total points between 36-38 at 15/2 (William Hill).

        On the try markets last weekend’s anytime scorer tip Sergio Parisse is again a good contender at 11/2 (Paddy Power) to score anytime and is 20/1 (Coral) to score first. For Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg is a good price at 14/1 (Ladbrokes) to score first, and is 10/3 (Paddy Power) to score anytime.

        This is set to be a tight affair mainly due to the fact Scotland won’t want to start the tournament with back to back defeats, but the confidence Italy gained in beating France last week should give them enough to make it two wins from two matches.

        France v Wales – 5pm
        Both France and Wales made the worst possible starts to their campaigns with defeats to Italy and Ireland respectively. Wales have now suffered nine defeats on the bounce since winning the grand slam last year, while France never really got going against a pumped up Italian side.

        France enter the game as heavy favourites and are as short as 1/4 (Paddy Power) and this price reflects just how strong Les Bleus are at home, with outsiders Wales a best price of 3/1 (Boylesports). On the handicap France are generally given a -8 start at evens (Ladbrokes), this looks a solid bet as France will be coming out all guns blazing after last weekend and the Welsh pack doesn’t seem to have to power to stop them.

        French number eight Louis Picamoles has a good record of finding the line for both club and country and is good value at 4/1 (Bet365) to score anytime. Centre Mathieu Basteraud looks a good price at 10/3 (Ladbrokes) to score anytime, the Toulon man has adds considerable size to the French midfield and is 14/1 (Ladbrokes) to score the first try.

        For Wales Alex Cuthbert is always a danger, and he scored in the fixture between the two sides last year, he is 14/1 (Paddy Power) to score first and 11/4 (Ladbrokes) to score anytime. Leigh Halfpenny is another who scored in last week’s defeat to Ireland and the Cardiff full-back is worth backing at 4/1 (Stan James) to score anytime.
        France have picked a forward pack to bully the Welsh and have also looked for power in the back-line, they have classy players all over the park and will be hurting after last week. Wales look more vulnerable than ever after their first round defeat and I can see them sitting bottom of the table with Scotland after Saturdays matches.

        Best Bets
        Italy to win – 15/8 (SportingBet)

        Italy +5 – evens (Paddy Power)

        Stuart Hogg anytime scorer – 10/3 (Paddy Power)

        Mathieu Basteraud anytime scorer – 10/3 (Ladbrokes)

        Leigh Halfpenny anytime scorer – 4/1 (Stan James)

        France/Italy double – (look for best price to double up)

        Hogg/Basteraud anytime scorer double – (look for best prices to double up)

          Six Nations 2013 Preview

          Six Nations

          Next Saturday see’s the start of the 2013 Six Nations Championships, the tournament provides some of the most traditional and intense rivalries in rugby and it promises to be a cracker. England enter the tournament as slight favourites, but the outright markets reflect just how difficult this year’s tournament is to call. So here is a team by team guide, along with some best bets for the tournament.

           

          England

          Head Coach – Stuart Lancaster

          Tournament Odds – 2/1 (Ladbrokes)

          England head into the 2013 Six Nations on a massive high after beating the World Champions New Zealand in the final game of the autumn internationals in December. That victory has lifted the expectation of the nation and the bookies also reacted by making England favourites for the title, and they are as sort as 15/8 with Bet365.

          The goal-kicking of Owen Farrell is key to England’s hopes, the young fly-half has already showed incredible maturity at test level and he is 11/10 favourite with Betfair to be the tournament’s top point scorer. While winger Chris Ashton is favourite for the top try scorer crown at a best price of 9/1 with Paddy Power.

          With three home games, there is no doubt that England have a very realistic chance of claiming the title, but the week two matchup away to Ireland will be a crucial clash, and will give us a good indication of what we can expect from Lancaster’s side.

          Predicted finish – Champions

           

          France

          Head Coach – Phillipe Saint-Andre

          Tournament Odds – 9/4 (BetFred)

          Like England, France enter this year’s Six Nations full of confidence after a superb series of results in November with three victories against Australia, Argentina and Samoa.  These results did not go unnoticed by the bookies who made Les Bleus early favourites, but England’s performances have pushed them to joint/2nd favourite with most firms.

          Morgan Parra has been in outstanding form for Clermont this season, and the scrum-half’s wonderful goal-kicking has already won many games for both club and country and he is priced at 37/19 with Betfair. Wesley Fofana burst onto the scene last year and scored some crucial tries, and looks a good bet for top try scorer at 10/1 with Bet365.

          As always though the nagging doubt about the French is their ability to win on the road. They face England, Ireland and Italy away from the Stade de France, but there is no doubt they have the talent to win the competition.

          Predicted finish – Runners up

           

          Ireland

          Head Coach – Declan Kidney

          Tournament Odds – 9/2 (William Hill)

          Inconsistent is probably the word that best sums up Ireland’s effort in the 2012 Six Nations, some good performances (away in France) and some bad performances (away to England). But coming into this tournament it feels as though there is a quiet optimism around the team, and the 9/2 price is good value.

          Declan Kidney is without his best winger Tommy Bowe, but the man who has filled his shoes Craig Gilroy certainly knows where the try line is. The Ulster flyer scored on his debut against Argentina and is a good price at 22/1 with Paddy Power to finish top scorer.

          Ireland travel to Wales in the first round, but with Wales struggling for form a win isn’t completely out of the question. From there anything could happen with England and France visiting the Aviva Stadium, Ireland may just be dark horses.

          Predicted Finish – 3rd

           

          Wales

          Head Coach – Rob Howley (interim)

          Tournament Odds – 9/2 (Paddy Power)

          The 2012 Grand Slam winners have endured a miserable time since lifting the title 12 months ago, and have failed to win their last seven test matches. This run of defeats has left many asking what has happened to the side that swept all before them last season, and their position as co-third favourites at 9/2 reflects the dip in form.

          Injuries have definitely hampered this Welsh side, but some key players (particularly in the backs) seem to be returning just at the right time. Jonathan Davies is one of the most exciting centres in the northern hemisphere and is a massively priced at 40/1 with SkyBet to be the top try scorer, which is definitely worth a punt.

          Rob Howley’s men are low on confidence going into this tournament, and face tricky trips to France, Scotland and Italy. They have the talent, and while the title may be beyond them a Triple Crown at 10/3 with Ladbrokes could be a good bet.

          Predicted Finish – 4th

           

          Italy

          Coach – Jacques Brunel

          Tournament Odds – 500/1 (Stan James)

          Italy have been making steady progress since Jacques Brunel took the reins from Nick Mallet last season. During the autumn series they beat Tonga, before losing to New Zealand and Australia. But the defeat at the hands of the Wallabies was only by a three point margin, and they could cause an upset or two this year.

          While the Azzuri are usually involved in the fight for the wooden spoon with Scotland, the odds on price 2/7 with SkyBet to finish bottom of the pile is well worth opposing. With Ireland, Wales and France travelling to Rome it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Italy turning over one of the big guns, as they did with France two years ago.

          Predicted Finish – 5th

           

          Scotland

          Coach – Scott Johnson

          Tournament Odds – 33/1

          Scotland are a team in turmoil, after a horrendous autumn series which culminated in a loss to Tonga and the Andy Robinson stepping down from his role as head coach. Scott Johnson has stepped to try and rebuild this side’s confidence, and 33/1 to win the tournament is a short price.

          Scotland do possess a pair of fine wingers in Tim Visser and Sean Maitland, and the pair could provide a spark for this side. Visser has been one of the best finishers in the Rabo Pro12 for the past three years and is 20/1 with Boylesports to finish as top try scorer. While Maitland qualifies for Scotland through his family, having been born in New Zealand, he is 40/1 with SportingBet to be top scorer.

          Scotland appear to be really up against it this year, with difficult trips to England and France. But with Ireland, Wales and Italy visiting Murrayfield, Johnson will be hoping the home crowd can help roar his side to a couple of victories.

           

          Tournament Best Bets

          No Grand Slam – 4/6 Ladbrokes

          Scotland to finish bottom – 10/3 Bet Victor

          Lowest Scoring Game (Scotland v Italy) – 6/1 Paddy Power

          Owen Farrell Top Point Scorer – 11/10 Betfair

          Wesley Fofana Top Try Scorer – 10/1 Bet365

          Craig Gilroy Top Try Scorer – 22/1 (e/w) Paddy Power

            Heineken Cup Round Six Preview Leicester v Toulouse

            Leicester v ToulouseAs the Heineken Cup reaches its final round of matches many teams are already sure of their fate, but that is not the case for Leicester and Toulouse. Both teams are still fighting for top spot in pool six in what promises to be a mouth-watering encounter.

            Leicester v Toulouse – Sunday 3pm

            This winner takes all clash in Pool 2 is set to be the tie of the round, as two giants of European rugby go head-to-head at Welford Road on Sunday.

            Leicester’s hopes of reaching the knock-out stages are still alive thanks to the 15-15 draw they picked up against the Ospreys in Swansea last weekend. While Toulouse recovered from a shaky start to sweep past Italian side Treviso 35-14.

            Neither side has really found their best form during the competition with stuttering performances stopping either side from establishing any dominance in the group. As you would expect the Tigers are odds on favourites with home advantage and are 8/11 (BetFred) to claim the win. Toulouse have struggled on the road this season (as was expected) and are best priced at 11/8 (Paddy Power) to leave the East Midlands with the victory, while the draw is priced at 20/1 (Paddy Power).

            On the handicap markets Leicester are generally given -2 at evens (Bet Victor). Given that this is a must win match for the Tigers I like this handicap and think they should cover this. Alternatively Leicester to win by a margin of 1-5 points is 9/2 (Coral) and provides more value for punters worrying about the handicap.

            Manu Tuilagi is certainly a player for the big occasion, as he showed when England destroyed the All Blacks in the Autumn Internationals, and I expect him to play a big role on Sunday. The bulldozing centre is a match winner on his day and is well priced at 11/1 (Paddy Power) to score the first try of the match.

            Another match winner in the Leicester ranks is full-back Matt Tait. The one time golden boy of English rugby has had a horrendous run of injuries in the last two years, but he now looks to be coming back to form and fitness and at 5/1 (Ladbrokes) to score anytime.

            On the Toulouse side French all-time top try scorer Vincent Clerc is 10/1 (Sky Bet) to cross the line first. On the anytime scorer market I like the look of Louis Picamoles looks a brilliant price at 15/2 (Ladbrokes). The destructive number eight has a great eye for the try-line and if he gets into open space he will be extremely difficult to stop.

            Best Bets
            Leicester -2 – Evens (Bet Victor)
            Leicester by 1-5 points – 9/2 (Coral)
            Draw HT/Leicester FT – 20/1 (Coral)
            Manu Tuilagi 1st Try – 11/1 (Paddy Power)
            Louis Picamoles Anytime Scorer – 15/2 (Ladbrokes)

              Heineken Cup Round Four Preview 2012

              Heineken Cup Logo
              As the Heineken Cup enters its fourth round of action the six pools are starting to take shape, with some teams fate already sealed and others hanging in the balance. Here is my preview of the weekends best match, featuring reigning champions Leinster and the French powerhouse Clermont Auvergne.

              Leinster v Clermont – Saturday 3.40pm

              Champions Leinster will be looking to avenge last weeks three point loss to Clermont when they welcome the French giants to Dublin on Saturday. The Irish side have struggled to hit the heights of last season and now find themselves second in Pool 5, five points adrift of Clermont.

              By contrast the French side have been in brilliant form this season, winning their first three matches and are now in pole position for a home quarter-final. SportingBet are offering 3/1 for a Clermont win, while Leinster are odds on favourites at 4/11 with Ladbrokes.

              While tries were at a premium in the south of France, I expect a far more open game this weekend. French centre Wesley Fofana is well priced at 14/1 with Paddy Power to score the first try. Leinster’s Fijian star Isa Necewa looks a good bet at 9/1 for the first try and has a good record in this competition.

              On the anytime scorer markets Irish hooker Richardt Strauss is well priced at 13/2 with Paddy Power. Strauss has made a rapid rise in the past two seasons, and is one of the most mobile front-row players in Europe, he knows where the try-line is and looks a good bet.

              On the handicap market a +6 start for Clermont with BetVictor at 10/11 looks very generous indeed given the amount of close games these teams have played.

              Best Bets

              Clermont – to win 3/1 (SportingBet)
              Clermont +6 – 10/11 (Bet Victor)
              Wesley Fofana – 1st Try 14/1 (Paddy Power)
              Richardt Strauss – anytime scorer 13/2 (Paddy Power)

                England v South Africa Rugby Preview 24 November 2012

                Autumn Internationals – Week Three Preview
                 
                The opening two weeks of the Autumn Internationals have not been kind to the home nations. Wales and Scotland are yet to register any wins, while England and Ireland have one victory against Fiji to their names. As we enter the third week of matches things are only getting harder with New Zealand visiting Wales, Argentina travelling to Ireland and South Africa heading to Twickenham to tackle England.
                 
                England v South Africa – 2.30pm Kick Off
                 
                England entered last week’s game with Australia full of optimism; this was supposed to be the game when Stuart Lancaster’s young guns struck their first blow against one of the southern hemisphere heavyweights.
                 
                But at the final whistle the players, coaches and fans were left with the same frustrations that have plagued English rugby for the last six years. Execution and decision making at the highest level is the essence of test rugby, and England were well below par in both departments. The decision to turn down three very kickable penalties ultimately cost the home side any chance of victory.
                 
                Chris Robshaw’s men now welcome the Springboks to Twickenham, a side they haven’t beaten in 10 games. In the summer tour of South Africa, the hosts overpowered England in the first two tests, before a spirited English effort earned them a draw in the final match of the series.
                 
                South Africa’s recent record against England is excellent, and the fact they enter this game on the back of two wins, even money (Paddy Power) looks a fantastic bet. There is no doubt the Boks have an advantage at the breakdown, and if they control this facet of the game as well as Australia did they should win the game.  England are generally priced at 4/5 and this is definitely worth opposing.
                 
                Given the weather forecast for Saturday (heavy rain and high winds) the handicap of South Africa +1 at 10/11 (Sky Bet) also looks a worth wile bet. The Boks are world’s best side when it comes to battles in the tight, and you wouldn’t back against them with that in mind.
                 
                Manu Tuilagi scored England’s only try in the defeat to Australia at is well priced at 4/1 (Ladbrokes) to score at anytime. The centre had a brilliant series against South Africa in the summer, and is one of the players who can break the solid Bok defence. Ben Youngs also has a good scoring record against the Springboks and is priced at 5/1 (Ladbrokes) to score anytime.
                 
                On the South African side a couple of the powerful ball carrying forwards catch the eye. Francois Louw has been in sensational form in the opening matches of the tour and the Bath flanker is 13/2 (Ladbrokes) to score at anytime.
                 
                 
                Best Bets
                 
                South Africa (to win) – Evens (Paddy Power)
                 
                South Africa +1 – 10/11 (Sky Bet)
                 
                Manu Tuilagi (anytime scorer) – 4/1 (Ladbrokes)
                 
                Francois Louw (anytime scorer) – 13/2 (Ladbrokes)
                 
                Drop Goal (anytime during the game) – 9/4 (Ladbrokes)
                 
                Bet of the Weekend
                 
                Double Up
                Argentina to beat Ireland 15/8 (Paddy Power)
                South Africa to beat England evens (Paddy Power)
                 
                Pays around 5/1 and looks a fantastic bet
                 
                 

                  England v Fiji Rugby Preview Autumn International 2012

                  Autumn Internationals – Week One Preview

                  November is a special month in the rugby calendar for a couple of reasons; firstly we see some of the world’s best player sporting moustaches in the aid of Movember and international rugby returns to the northern hemisphere as the likes of New Zealand, Australia and South Africa head up to Europe for their end of season tours.

                  England v Fiji – 2.30pm

                  Stuart Lancaster has selected one of the most inexperienced teams in recent English history for the opening game of the QBE Autumn Internationals, with the starting XV averaging around 14 caps and the replacements just eight-and-a-half caps.

                  Tom Youngs makes his debut at hooker, despite only starting nine Premiership games for Leicester. While Joe Launchbury and Mako Vunipola are also set to make their international bows from the bench, after impressing for Wasps and Saracens respectively.

                  Nevertheless England are expected to win comfortably against a weakened Fijian side, with handicaps as high as -34 being offered by Stan James, however England -32 is evens (Bet Victor) and looks a very tempting prospect.

                  England have plenty of firepower in their backline with the likes of Manu Tuilagi, Charlie Sharples and Ugo Moyne all priced at 8/1 and 9/1 (Sky Bet) to score the first try, while full-back Alex Goode is priced at 12/1 (Sporting Bet).

                  But for me Danny Care offers great value at 14/1 (Sky Bet) the Quins scrum-half has been in electric form this season and has scored some very important tries for the English champions. If there are weaknesses in the Fijian defence around the ruck, Care will be the man to make them pay.

                  Mike Brown can consider himself very unlucky not to be starting at full-back, but he looks certain to come off the bench either on the wing or at 15. I think at 9/1 (William Hill) he is a very good bet to score the last try of the game, when the Fijian defence is tiring.

                  The anytime scorer markets offer some terrific prices for the Fijian players who are definitely worth considering. Leicester Tigers centre Vereniki Goneva has been one of the stars of the Premiership season so far and is a massive 9/1 (Blue Square) to cross the line during the match. I also like Akapusi Qera at 9/1 (Blue Square) the Gloucester flanker is a tremendous defender, but also has an eye for the try line and it would be no surprise to see him get his name on the score sheet.

                  Best Bets
                  Danny Care (First Try) – 14/1 (Sky Bet)

                  Mike Brown (Last Try) – 9/1 (William Hill)

                  Vereniki Goneva (Anytime Scorer) – 9/1 (Blue Square)

                  Akapusi Qera (Anytime Scorer) – 9/1 (Blue Square)

                  England by 31-35 – 6/1 (Sporting Bet)

                    Sale Sharks v London Irish Preview 2012

                    Aviva Premiership Round 8 Preview By Danny Till

                    Sale Sharks v London Irish – Friday 8pm
                    Sale are without a win in their opening seven games in the Aviva Premiership, and sit eight points adrift at the bottom of the table. In response to this disastrous start to the season Steve Diamond has taken charge of first team affairs, with former New Zealand coach John Mitchell joining in an advisory role.
                    The change of coach may be the perfect tonic to inspire the Sharks, who have conceded 20+ points in every game this season. In recent weeks performances have improved, and they will feel a win isn’t far away. Australian international Cameron Shepherd starts his first game for the club, and Diamond will be hoping he can provide the spark the home side have been desperately lacking. Shepherd is priced at 10/1(Paddy Power) to score the first try, this looks a good bet as Irish have conceded 10 tries against wingers this season.

                    London Irish currently sit one place above Sale after an inconsistent start to the season. Brian Smith’s men were denied a victory over champions Harlequins by a controversial Tom Casson try. They arrive in Salford having claimed 9 victories in their last 11 meetings with Sale, but the Exiles have one just once in their last 11 away outings.
                    Fly-half Ian Humphreys kicked seven goals in the defeat to Quins, and Irish are well priced at 15/8 (Sporting Bet) to open the scoring with a penalty against the ill-disciplined Sharks. Given that both sides have really struggled defence this season, former England winger Topsy Ojo looks good value at 5/2 (Paddy Power) to score anytime.

                    This is a must win game for the Sharks and they know the pressure is really on, there is no doubting the talent in their squad but they have struggled to click as unit this season. Irish are a team who can be brilliant one minute and appalling the next, and they can’t afford to give this desperate Sale side a chance to get on top. Here are my four best bets for the game:

                    Sale -2 (handicap) – 10/11 (Boyle Sports)
                    Draw/Sale (HT/FT) – 20/1 (Ladbrokes)
                    Cameron Shepherd 1st try – 10/1 (Paddy Power)
                    London Irish penalty (first scoring play) – 15/8 (Sporting Bet)