This weekend's predictions!

Date published: August 16 2014

It's that time of week where we put our heads on the chopping block with Planet Rugby's weekend predictions for the scheduled action.

It is that time of week where we put our head on the chopping block with Planet Rugby's weekend predictions.

Are you ready for the Rugby Championship and Top 14 season? One is more of a sprint than the marathon poised to start in France but both are equally intriguing, with New Zealand and Toulon the favourites for their respective silverware.

Here we look at the best bets on offer from Paddy Power as our team of writers pick out the solid punts and also outside shots in an attempt to make you some extra pocket money. Let's go.

Rugby Championship

So here we are then for another six rounds of quality rugby, with the All Blacks looking to claim three straight Rugby Championship titles over their three southern hemisphere rivals.

New Zealand are 1/2 favourites and that is probably a fair call as we feel they will prevail on the road at least twice, which will be critical in the destination of the title.

For top try-scorer Israel Folau looks a decent shout at 4/1 while we also like the look of Cornal Hendricks being South Africa's top finisher at 7/2, which we feel are good odds.

Australia v New Zealand

The Wallabies have been given a five point start by the bookies for this one and the fact they have been switching from that to four points shows just how in the balance this result is.

Several of Australia's personnel will be buoyed by the recent Super Rugby events and we therefore think that (+5) on the hosts is worth taking, with parity up front of course critical.

On the scoring front we like the look of centre duo Matt Toomua and Adam Ashley-Cooper at 18/1 for the first try while Malakai Fekitoa might be worth a look for New Zealand's first at 13/2 after replacing Conrad Smith at 13, who has returned home for the birth of his child.

South Africa v Argentina

South Africa will be looking to get off to a fast start in Pretoria when they take on los Pumas on Saturday, with last year's 73-13 thrashing in the same fixture providing a yardstick.

It's highly unlikely that winning margin will be repeated, but South Africa are still priced at 1/100 to clinch this one which tells you everything you need to know. Argentina keeping the scoreline tighter than expected, between 1-12 points, looks to be priced nicely at 4/1.

We expect the Boks to win by around 16-20 points, which is 6/1, with Hendricks priced at the same odds to be the first try scorer. Last year they had nine different scorers but a double here for someone like Willie le Roux (10/3) or Hendricks (3/1) feels like a smart bet.

Top 14

As we start a new season it's a great opportunity to delve into the top try-scorer market, and a look at last year shows that Montpellier, Clermont and Bordeaux were the leading outfits.

There isn't much value in Metuisela Talebula at 6/1, even if he looks the most likely man to finish top of the charts. A more interesting option is Clermont finisher Noa Nakaitaci, who should get more game time after Sitiveni Sivivatu's departure, and will also fill in at centre with Wesley Fofana's international restrictions. At 25/1, Nakaitaci is definitely worth a look, as is Timoci Nagusa, who is fit to start the season after a slow start last campaign and is at the same price. If you want to go for someone a little more unlikely, Toulon's Matt Giteau has shown a nose for the line in recent seasons, and looks a steal at 66/1 for an each-way bet, especially given he will be playing virtually every game at either fly-half or inside centre.

In terms of more immediate returns this weekend, the handicap market offers a couple of possibilities. It's brave to ever bet against Clermont at home, but Grenoble look to be in pretty good form, and you'd fancy them to stay within 14 points with Paddy Power. Similarly Oyonnax should be good enough to stay within 15 against Toulouse, who rarely start the season in flying fashion and are without a number of top players due to injury.