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LIAM DEL CARME (Sunday Times)
New Zealand v Ireland
The first test illustrated the gulf between the two sides.

If the All Blacks don't take complacency into the second test Ireland could be in trouble. The All Blacks played with much more cohesion most thought possible for their first match of the season and one can quite reasonably assume they'll play with even more in the second test. Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll will have a huge job rousing his troops this week.

Australia v Wales
After their shock defeat to Scotland the Wallabies were in determined mood against the Six Nations champions Wales. Their most influential players Will Genia and David Pocock delivered huge performances which rubbed off on teammates still shamed by the experience against Scotland. The Wallabies looked sharp when they got good front foot ball and will hope for a repeat, while Wales will be desperate to cut out their lapses in concentration. Both teams will have some injury concerns but expect both sides to be better still on Saturday.

South Africa v England
The Springboks failed to convince in the first half in Durban but they gave a snapshot of what they are capable of in the second. It is their second half performance on which punters should back them for a win and while they didn't take the game completely away from England, they displayed their superiority. England will have to re-organise their midfield with Brad Barritt ruled out due to an eye injury which means Toby Flood is likely to come in at flyhalf while Owen Farrell will switch to inside centre. That will weaken England's defence but they might derive some benefits in attack.

Argentina v France
The Pumas maintained their good home record over Italy last weekend but they weren't entirely convincing. Against France they may have to improve across the board. France, however struggle in Argentina, partly because they hardly ever take their best squad. As a result they haven't won a series in Argentina since 1998, which partly explains why the Pumas since then have won more than they've lost against the Tricolores. For this trip they've left behind amongst others captain Thierry Dusautoir, hooker William Servat, No8 Imanol Harinordoquy, Dimitri Yachvili and centre Aurelien Rougerie. France though still have a capable squad and the result could go either way.

Japan v Samoa
Samoa edged past Fiji 29-26 in their Pacific Nations Cup match last weekend. They are the tournament's remaining unbeaten side and will go into this weekend's away match as favourites. Tonga beat Japan, the defending champions 24-20 last weekend. Japan coach Eddie Jones lamented his side's propensity to concede points easily and they will be in for more agony if they don't tighten up their game against Samoa.


Date Posted: 6/12/2012
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