ENGLAND fell to their fifth straight loss when South Africa continued their recent dominance over them, winning 31-28 at Twickenham last Saturday. The Springboks had been thrashed by Ireland seven days before, so it was frustrating that England couldn’t end a 12 game winless run against these opponents.
Although both Autumn International defeats have been by three-point margins, England haven’t been unlucky. New Zealand were dominant a fortnight ago and it was only when South Africa were down a man that they took some measure of control.
Stuart Lancaster’s men need to improve and tomorrow’s game versus Samoa provides the perfect opportunity to regain the winning thread. The Samoans have lost their last three, including drubbings at the hands of Ireland and South Africa.
Fly-half George Ford will make his first international start as Lancaster shuffles his pack. Owen Farrell moves to inside centre, Ben Youngs comes in at scrum-half, Rob Webber replaces Dylan Hartley, and Ben Morgan and James Haskell both start.
England have won all six meetings with Samoa by at least 13 points and Sporting Index have pitched their supremacy at 16-19 – that looks right.
Samoa lost by 11 points to Italy most recently and it would be disappointing if the Red Rose didn’t send out a signal of intent ahead of the Australia game and with the World Cup on the horizon.
A repeat of the penultimate game at Twickenham between these rivals in 2005, when England won 40-3, would be welcome for supremacy buyers. But a better bet is to sell total Samoa points at 14. The home backline should be able to contain the visiting attack.
Matt Parish’s side will be in damage limitation mode which could make for a frustrating 80 minutes for their rivals. But Samoa will be vulnerable to the pace and speed of England’s forwards. In their last three matches the first scoring play has been an opposition penalty.
With that in mind it’s worth backing the first scoring play to be an England penalty at 17/10.
Sell Samoa’s total points at 14 with Sporting Index
First scoring play to be an England penalty at 17/10