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LIAM DEL CARME (Sunday Times)
Samoa v Scotland
Samoa are fresh from their triumph in the Pacific Nations Cup when they beat Japan in their last match.

They have a good home record having lost just five matches since 1986 and just one since 2003. Rugby's elite however rarely travel to the idyllic islands. Samoa are yet to beat Scotland. They've clashed seven times with Scotland winning six and one match ending in a draw. Their last two meetings took place in Scotland with both matches resulting in hard fought wins for the Scots.
Scotland beat the Wallabies and Fiji in the last two weeks but this should be close one.

Australia v Wales
Wales did everything but win the second test and now have to lift themselves to avert a series white wash. Captain Sam Warburton has vowed to do just that but it must be of grave concern that even when a precious win in Australia, the first since 1969, was in their grasp they failed to hold on. The challenge for the Wallabies of course will be to dig as deep as they did in the first two tests knowing that the series is won. All five options are a prospect in this match.

New Zealand v Ireland
Ireland too threw everything into battle last week without winning. The All Blacks, perhaps a tad complacent after a resounding win in the first test were well off their best in Christchurch. They will be immeasurably better this week and Ireland can expect a backlash. The All Blacks will however be without Ali Williams and they may also be without impeccable No8 Kieran Read. His loss, should he be ruled out will be huge. The rangy No8 brings a wide range of influence to the playing surface, not least his ability to get his team over the gainline.

South Africa v England
The Springboks were knocked out of kilter after a superb start to the second test. Injuries disrupted their flow and it looks likely to influence their selections this week with Juandre Kruger, Pat Lambie and Willem Alberts injured. They will also be without Frans Steyn who is getting married on the weekend. England will also make some changes with scrumhalf Ben Youngs set to miss out because of a shoulder injury but his loss will be offset by the possible return of centre Brad Barritt who had stitches inserted into his left eyeball following the first test.

Argentina v France
The Pumas maintained their impressive record against France on home soil with a close victory in the first test. France, without several of their most experienced campaigners, still have a competitive squad but they were made to pay by a side playing with robust intensity in the set phases. That trend is likely to continue in the second test but France's prospects cannot entirely be dismissed.


Date Posted: 6/19/2012
Number of Views: -1
 


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