The busy November Test schedule continues this weekend, with Ireland’s re-match against the New Zealand the pick of the games.
Elsewhere the Premiership is back after two weeks off for the Anglo-Welsh Cup, while the Top 14 season in France also continues.
Let’s dive into this weekend’s games.
Ireland v New Zealand
Prediction: Despite home ground advantage, Ireland will not repeat their Chicago feat as the world champions will have too much firepower. New Zealand by eight.
France v Australia
Prediction: France played some wonderful attacking rugby last weekend but Australia should be able to weather it. Australia by eight.
Italy v South Africa
Prediction: Don’t be surprised if this is the closest Test of the weekend. Italy will give a good account of themselves but the Boks will sneak in by five points!
Scotland v Argentina
Prediction: Scotland weren’t quite able to contain Australia last weekend and Argentina should be a very similar expansive-attacking threat. Argentina by 5.
England v Fiji
Prediction: Don’t expect the streak to be brought to an end against a Fijian side who will threaten at times. England by 25 points.
Wales v Japan
Prediction: Japan, of course, will be no pushover but on paper we think the hosts have enough to win and with a bit to spare. Wales by 23.
Other International predictions:
Georgia v Samoa: Georgia by 5
Tonga v USA: USA by 8
Romania v Canada: Canada by 15
Bath v Bristol
More or less the first fixture everyone looked for when the season’s schedule was announced earlier this year, the West Country rivals will face off on Friday but without Bath’s internationals. That is deflating enough before checking on Bristol’s record thus far this season in the Premiership, no wins from seven games and seven points adrift. Still, this contest shouldn’t lack for spice. Bristol fly-half Billy Searle will come under plenty of pressure in his first Premiership start and the visitors will need as much stability as they can get from their new half-back combination. Also worth monitoring is the return to action of Taulupe Faletau, released by Wales to get some minutes under his belt, as he starts at number eight. We’re backing Bath to win by 14 points.
Other Premiership predictions:
Worcester Warriors v Northampton Saints: Saints by 5
Newcastle Falcons v Exeter Chiefs: Chiefs by 7
Gloucester v Wasps: Wasps by 6
Sale Sharks v Saracens: Sale by 3
Leicester Tigers v Harlequins: Tigers by 9
Castres v Toulon
Toulon might outmatch Castres for firepower across their starting XV but discipline is paramount on Saturday considering the recent kicking form of Argentine fly-half Benjamin Urdapilleta. The veteran scored 17 of his side’s points last weekend in their comfortable win over Brive, including five penalties, as the second-highest points scorer in the Top 14 continued to close down leader Gaëtan Germain. Toulon are coming off a good win themselves, running four tries past Stade Français, although one of those scores in Xavier Chiocci has since been called up by France to face Australia. Liam Gill’s outstanding form has continued, so look out for him at the breakdown. We’re backing Castres to hold on and win by five points.
Other Top 14 predictions:
Bordeaux-Bègles v La Rochelle: UBB by 8
Brive v Pau: Pau by 5
Clermont Auvergne v Lyon: Clermont by 9
Racing 92 v Grenoble: Racing by 12
Stade Français v Montpellier: Montpellier by 10
Bayonne v Toulouse: Bayonne by 3