Opinion: Rating every northern hemisphere side’s chances of a series win on Saturday

Adam Kyriacou

Ahead of what promises to be a blockbuster final weekend of July international action, we look at the chances of northern hemisphere sides in the south.

England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales bounced back last Saturday in their respective second Tests which has created deciding games across all four series.

That makes for a mouth-watering final round of action in Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa as the south looks to halt a northern sweep.

Here we discuss the chances of the tourists making it back-to-back wins in seven days and which team has the best chance of picking up a 2-1 triumph.

Ireland in New Zealand

Confidence is a funny thing and right now it is Ireland who are at the top end of the scale after their impressive and comprehensive victory in Dunedin. Following that up with a midweek win over the Maori All Blacks, the mood in the Irish camp must be sky high right now which is in stark contrast to New Zealand‘s. All Blacks great Wayne Shelford has been critical of their form and skill-sets as the pressure is clearly mounting on head coach Ian Foster.

For Andy Farrell, his preparations for Saturday will prove a much simpler task as more of the same is required from the Irish in Wellington, as his team suffocated the All Blacks last week with the likes of Tadhg Beirne and Caelan Doris impressing at the breakdown. Unlike New Zealand, it’s clear that the tourists boast outstanding leaders on the field in veterans Peter O’Mahony and Johnny Sexton.

If they replicate their imperious second Test form while continuing to eat away at the All Blacks’ current fragile state and lack of ideas, an historic series win on New Zealand soil is very much in the offing. However, the hosts must not be discounted and at home, alongside the individual talent they always have, the All Blacks are always dangerous.

PR’s chance of Irish success: 55%

England in Australia

They weren’t exactly contrasting performances from England in terms of intent and style over the previous couple of matches, but the difference has been the execution. The Red Rose started the second Test impressively, putting Australia under significant pressure and laying the platform for their 25-17 victory. The challenge for Eddie Jones’ men is to repeat that intensity and physicality, and hope an injury-hit Wallabies side can’t live with them.

You feel that if it is close going into the final 40 minutes the hosts will be favourites, given how well Australia have performed in the second halves and the fact that England’s players are at the end of a long season.

Jones will once again need a big performance from their pack and scrum-half Jack van Poortvliet, who kicked beautifully in Brisbane. It is also another chance for Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell to improve their understanding. They certainly developed as a partnership last weekend but there is still much to be done if the duo are to become England’s focal point in attack.

PR’s chance of English success: 60%

Wales in South Africa

It will be a markedly different proposition for Wales this weekend in Cape Town as the Springboks have rolled out their big guns following that loss in Bloemfontein. It is for that reason we feel this is the least likely chance of a northern hemisphere series success as South Africa will be wounded and determined to right the wrongs in front of a packed stadium against a Welsh side that will no doubt be banged up after their exploits of seven days ago.

Tommy Reffell has been truly outstanding for Wales while Louis Rees-Zammit, Will Rowlands and Dan Biggar have also been shining lights, but with doubts surrounding the fitness of the fly-half, his possible absence would be a significant blow, even with Gareth Anscombe looking in top form after his cameo. Furthermore, there is no hiding from this fully-loaded and refreshed Bok line-up, with the odds stacked against Wales backing up their Bloemfontein win.

PR’s chance of Welsh success: 20%

Scotland in Argentina

The final game of the day takes place in Santiago del Estero as Scotland look to build on last week’s much-improved showing that saw them level matters. Crossing the whitewash four times to Argentina’s zero will have pleased head coach Gregor Townsend no end but it is time to now reset as they attempt to replicate that performance. The Pumas were hugely disappointing compared to the first Test so the pressure is on Michael Cheika to find answers and quick.

Scotland had great success around the fringes of the ruck and scrum-half Ben White’s sniping was crucial in that facet, with the forwards also dominating. Flanker Hamish Watson and number eight Matt Fagerson both powered over from close range which will give the tourists confidence going into this deciding Test. Argentina simply must be tighter and more connected in defence but, with confidence high in the Scotland camp, the visitors can turn the screw and finish the job.

PR’s chance of Scottish success: 65%

READ MORE: Courtney Lawes: England captain ready for a break after ‘tough year’


Australia v England preview

Planet Rugby previews the series deciding third Test between Australia and England at the Sydney Cricket Ground.