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Clean sweep on the cards for home nations

Clean sweep on the cards for home nations

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All the home nations are in action for the final round of autumn internationals and there is no reason to suggest why Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland can’t all emerge victorious on Saturday.

Scotland -7.5 handicap FT @ 20/23

The Scots kick-off the action for the home nations this weekend, as they look to bounce back from a 26-20 defeat to South Africa against Argentina at Murrayfield.

Head coach Gregor Townsend undoubtedly will be wondering about what might have been against the Boks last time out but once again the Scots have shown they can mix it with the best in the business.

It’s more of an experimental line-up this week for the clash against the Pumas and there has been a fair bit of anticipation around the Scotland backline.

Finn Russell has been moved to inside centre, giving Adam Hastings a start in the number 10 jersey.

Much like the Craig Chalmers-Gregor Townsend combination in the 90s, Scotland will be hoping the creative pair can produced some magic, while in the back-three, Sean Maitland, Blair Kinghorn and Stuart Hogg will be looking for opportunities in open ground.

The Scots thumped Argentina in South America over the summer but the Pumas will be a different animal after impressing in patches through the Rugby Championship.

It has been a long, old season for Argentina and they might just not have the steam to cause an upset and their nine-year wait for a win at Murrayfield looks set to continue.

England -8.5 handicap FT @ 10/13

England have a rare opportunity to really dig the knife into the Australians this weekend and Eddie Jones will want his side to be as ruthless as ever against the Wallabies.

All is not well in the Australia camp and it’s not just their form in the Rugby Championship that’s a concern for head coach Michael Cheika.

A stomach bug is thought to have plagued the Aussie squad this week and England will be looking to take full advantage of any weakness in the opposition ranks.

There is much anticipation about seeing Leicester Tigers centre Manu Tuilagi back in an England jersey after so many injury setbacks.

The powerful runner has been named on the bench and should make an impact when called upon in the second-half.

England have had injury problems on the wings, with Chris Ashton and Jack Nowell ruled out but they should have the grunt upfront and the influence of star man Owen Farrell to secure a comfortable win at HQ.

Wales to win @ 4/5

Wales have enjoyed an impressive autumn series and will be full of confidence against South Africa in Cardiff.

It’s head coach Warren Gatland’s last season at the helm of Welsh rugby and the Kiwi is clearly determined to go out on a high following the World Cup.

On the back of a win against Scotland, the Welsh went to finally end their hoodoo against Australia in a dogged Test match, before breezing past the Tongans with a record victory.

After a couple of seasons out in the mire, Wales really look like they could be a force to contend with in the upcoming Six Nations championship.

The Welsh have home games against two fellow contenders in the form of England and Ireland this season and if they can get wins in Cardiff, then Gatland’s boys will take some stopping in the race for the title.

This weekend should provide a good acid test against a Springboks’ side who look like they could really shine at the World Cup in Japan next year.

The Boks have been a mixed bag this month as they were unlucky not to beat England, brilliant to comeback against the French and somewhat fortunate to come away from Murrayfield with a win.

It really does depend on which Boks side show up this weekend as to how this match is going to play out at the Principality Stadium.

However, Wales in recent years have nurtured plenty of strength in depth due to injuries to key players and this is starting to reap its rewards.

The Boks will come at the Welsh with everything they have left in the tank, but this Wales side has a new-found resilience about them and they should just be able to edge this one to leave them on a real high going into the Six Nations.

Elsewhere, the Irish are also in action as they prepare to host the USA at the Aviva Stadium.

After a summer series win over Australia Down Under, off the back of a Six Nations Grand Slam, Ireland secured their first-ever win over the All Blacks on Irish soil last weekend.

That 16-9 victory over New Zealand last week is a game that will be replayed over and over in Ireland and by neutrals for many years to come.

It was a gutsy performance which still had moments of flair, with Jacob Stockdale’s try certainly the highlight.

Of course, head coach Joe Schmidt will give players a much-needed rest after that bruising encounter against the reigning world champions, so the fringe players will be given an opportunity to impress this weekend.

There was much talk about the US coming on leaps and bounds a few years ago and there are signs of improvement.

The Americans did manage to claim a scalp against a much-changed Scotland side over the summer and they will be hoping they can stay in the game as long as possible in Dublin.

However, riding that wave of excitement following that win over the All Blacks, expect the Irish to come out of the traps fast and have the game wrapped up by the half-time whistle.

It really could be a long evening under the lights at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday for the Americans and expect the men in green to put in another dominant display as they build towards what is set to be a thrilling 2019 Six Nations.

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Alex Jack As a regular at Murrayfield and Headingley, Alex's knowledge of both Rugby Union and Rugby League is undoubted. He also takes in plenty of Football League action and particularly specialises in Championship betting.