This week’s predictions

Date published: October 16 2015

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

This weekend the serious action gets underway as we reach the knockout stages of the World Cup, with two huge games on Saturday, and two more on Sunday.

We've scoured the best odds at Paddy Power to offer you the best value as we look to make the weekend profitable. 

Rugby World Cup Quarter-finals

South Africa v Wales

Probably the two most battle-hardened teams in the competition face off at Twickenham as Wales aim to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup for the second tournament running.

To do so they will have to beat the Springboks, who've been playing knockout rugby throughout this tournament after their shock opening loss to Japan.

Recent clashes between the teams have been very close, with Wales winning 12-6 in Cardiff last time out, while South Africa pipped them in Nelspruit earlier in the year thanks to a last-gasp penalty try.

Still, the Welsh are dealing with a string of injuries, and while they have some depth, their backline is missing a lot of experience.

The Boks have plumped for youth as well, especially in their three-quarters where Handre Pollard, Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel will line up together.

Their pack looks to be firing though, and with ball carriers like Duane Vermeulen, Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager, Wales will have to be strong defensively.

Under Shaun Edwards that hasn't been a problem, so expect this one to be an attritional battle, we like the under of 39.5 points for the game, with both teams like to cancel each other out.

In terms of try-scorers, Wales have conceded both of their tries to backs in this tournament, and while it's a small sample size, it makes sense that tries will come from breakaways and counter-attacks, rather than long periods of possession. With that in mind, De Allende and Kriel look good value at 14/1 for the first try.

France v New Zealand

Traditionally a game to stay away from in betting circles, but the stereotype of the unpredictable French no longer seems to be true.

Les Bleus have shocked us all before, so we won't say it's impossible, but this New Zealand team look too good all over the park, and more importantly, France have shown virtually nothing in the last four years under Philippe Saint-André.

Their defence was strong in the first half against Ireland, so there may be some value in France to lead at half-time before New Zealand come back to win it, at 6/1.

In terms of try-scorers, Nehe Milner-Skudder looks like an obvious choice at 15/2 to cross first, with the French unlikely to be familiar with his quick feet.

On the French side, Thierry Dusautoir is a longer shot, but has scored in each of the two previous World Cup meetings between the sides, and could be worth a punt at 40/1.

Australia v Scotland

Australia are expected to take this one comfortably, but with a couple of players out injured, it might not be quite as comfortable as predicted.

With that in mind, we think it's worth taking Scotland to cover the 16-point handicap which seems very high for a knockout game. When you consider that Greig Laidlaw has generally been very good from the kicking tee, Scotland should be able to stay in it.

Alternatively, Australia by 1-12 is available at 11/5 and seems like it's worth a look if you think they won't run away with it.

In terms of slightly more obscure bets, Scotland have been much stronger in the second half of all their games in the World Cup, so the 8.5-point handicap they are being given in the second half also looks to be good value.

Argentina v Ireland

Perhaps the toughest game to call of the weekend, a wounded Ireland take on the tournament's dark horses Argentina in Cardiff.

While the Irish are the bookies' favourites, we think the 5-point handicap is a little generous and would advise to take Argentina and the points.

Irish injuries have certainly tested their depth, and they may still be feeling the effects of last week's bruising encounter with France.

With that in mind, Argentina might finish the stronger, so we quite like them to score the final try, with value from the likes of Agustin Creevy at 33/1, with the skipper unlikely to go off except for injury.

Premiership Rugby

Elsewhere the Premiership gets back underway this weekend with a few thrilling encounters, not least Friday's match-up between Harlequins and Wasps at the Stoop.

The following day Bath take on Exeter in probably the pick of the Saturday games which could see George Ford and Henry Slade up against each other in the second half.

Premiership predictions:
Harlequins v Wasps – Quins by 4
Worcester v Northampton – Saints by 10
Newcastle v Gloucester – Newcastle by 7
Bath v Exeter – Bath by 9
Saracens v Sale – Sarries by 15
London Irish v Leicester – Irish by 2

Pro 12

The Pro 12 continues with Scarlets, Edinburgh and Munster looking to continue their unbeaten starts to the season.

All three are at home, but none will have it easy, while Connacht will expect to join them near the top with their home game against Zebre.

Pro 12 predictions:
Connacht v Zebre – Connacht by 20
Glasgow v Dragons – Glasgow by 10
Scarlets v Leinster – Scarlets by 5
Edinburgh v Ulster – Edinburgh by 3
Munster v Cardiff Blues – Munster by 10
Treviso v Ospreys – Ospreys by 4

Top 14

This weekend also marks the return of the Top 14, with six games on Friday evening, the most important featuring the 2015 champions Stade Français at home to 2013 champs Castres.

Stade are currently rooted to the bottom of the table, and desperately need a win, while nearer the top, Clermont, Montpellier and Toulouse can all build on strong starts to the campaign.

Top 14 predictions:
Clermont v Pau – Clermont by 18
Agen v Bordeaux-Bègles – Agen by 4
Grenoble v Montpellier – Montpellier by 3
Oyonnax v Racing 92 – Oyonnax by 4
Stade Français v Castres – Stade by 3
Toulouse v La Rochelle – Toulouse by 9
Brive v Toulon – Brive by 3