Predictions: Rugby Championship

Date published: August 16 2013

It is time for us to put our heads on the block and give you Planet Rugby's calls for this weekend's global action.

It is time for us to put our heads on the block and give you Planet Rugby's calls for this weekend's global action.

Domestic and International rugby return this weekend with the beginning of The Rugby Championship and Top 14. Therefore, your betting possiblities and options have certainly increased.

Let's get started.

The Rugby Championship

Australia v New Zealand:

New Zealand come in as heavy favourites after a mixed run of results against the Wallabies in recent times, the latest of which was an 18-18 draw in October after a 22-0 pasting last August. For that reason the All Blacks are 21/10 to win by 13 points or more.

Australia's underdog status sees them at odds of 8/1 to win by 13 points themselves.

Writing them off early however at home seems naive, so a half-time draw at 10/1 should be considered. New Zealand are 6/1 to be behind at half-time before coming through to take victory.

Following his antics in the British and Irish Lions series, when he scored two tries on debut in the first Test, Israel Folau offers promising odds at first tryscorer of 10/1, with Julian Savea (9/1) and Ben Smith (10/1) the best options for New Zealand. More outrageous are the hat-trick odds on Savea (40/1) and Folau (50/1).

Lastly, Bledisloe matches have a rightful reputation for plenty of niggle, so a red card at 25/1? Stranger things have happened.

South Africa v Argentina:

Surely Argentina couldn't draw with South Africa again. Could they? At 33/1 it's certainly an intriguing possibility, but truth be told South Africa are a different proposition in 2013 than the young group Heyneke Meyer inherited last year.

For that reason, your best odds will come from backing the Pumas, who are straight on for the match at 7/1.

25/1 for Argentina to win by more than 13 points, something they last did against Wales in Cardiff last November, seems fanciful; a half-time lead for Argentina between 1-7 points at 5/1 seems a sensible bet. The unlikelihood of a half-time South African lead followed by an Argentinian victory at 17/1 is also attractive.

If the Pumas are your tip, then a winning margin between 6-10 points will also be hard to ignore at 19/1.

Juan Imhoff, a favourite of the staff at Planet Rugby, feels like a shoe-in as first tryscorer at 14/1, whilst Willie Le Roux at 9/1 for the Boks has what it takes. An Argentinian try to be the first score of the game at 14/1 could make it a handsome double.

Top 14

Montpellier v Toulon:

The grand opener to the new Top 14 season will feature plenty of famous faces, with a certain Mr Wilkinson leading the cast in what could be his final season. Jonny's last time out ended in agony in the Top 14 Final, but he is 10/1 on to open Friday's scoring with a trademark drop goal.

Generally speaking there is very little to separate Fabien Galthié and Bernard Laporte's side, with Montpellier down at 4/1 to win by 13 points or more and Toulon at 8/1.

A Montpellier comeback after being down at half-time, feasible given their home record last season, is one of the better bets at 6/1.

Biarritz v Clermont:

Surprisingly equal for Saturday's match in the Basque territory, Clermont here are a certain banker and should definitely be backed to win by more than 13 points at 7/1 and by a winning margin of 11-15 at 9/1.

The depth of Clermont's squad in comparison to the losses experienced by Biarritz also make a Clermont win by 16-20 points at 13/1 a viable option.

What's more, a Clermont try as the first score of the match is a must-bet, available at 7/1.

Best of the rest:

Looking elsewhere in the Top 14 for this weekend, champions Castres are at 10/1 to defeat Perpignan by 13 points or more and 12/1 for a winning margin of 11-15 points.

Few will give Brive any chance against Racing Métro, but a shock win by 1-5 points is available at 12/1 and by 6-10 points at 20/1.

Toulouse should be expected to win away at Bordeaux-Bègles but may struggle early on, making them 6/1 to come from behind to win after trailing at half-time.

Good luck!