England can warm up for All Blacks clash by thrashing poor Pumas side


ENGLAND will be looking to build on last weekend’s 20-13 defeat of Australia when they line-up against Argentina at Twickenham tomorrow.

For the opening half England were sloppy against the Wallabies and subsequently went into the break facing a 13-6 deficit. It was a scrappy affair, but Stuart Lancaster was pleased with the heart shown in a second period shut out that included two tries of their own.

Performances must vastly improve if they are to have any chance of defeating New Zealand next weekend. A win is a win though, and another against the Pumas will give the Red Rose momentum ahead of the big one.

Lancaster has confirmed that Alex Corbisiero returns as prop in place of Mako Vunipola after he picked up a knee injury. He’s also given Billy Twelvetrees the vote of confidence at centre to give England a familiar feel.

Argentina, 5/1 underdogs, are not so fortunate and arrive in London with new coach Daniel Hourcade. Santiago Phelan lost his job after a disappointing Rugby Championship where they were rock-bottom following a second winless tournament.

There are rumours that the squad influenced the managerial change which suggests they are an unsettled group. The Pumas rely on their combative style of rugby and will look to replicate their effort when they shocked Wales with a 26-12 triumph this time last year.

This clash will have a very different feel to the two-match series over the summer which England won to nil. Lancaster took the opportunity to field a young squad to give them experience for Test series like these.

Argentina have performed well enough in England, winning here in 2006 and narrowly losing by seven points in their previous clash four years ago.

A better yardstick for comparisons is the last Pumas outing that saw them concede 54 points to a struggling Wallaby outfit. Defensively they were all over the place and England can take advantage of the holes in midfield to overcome the 13-point handicap at 10/11 with Coral.

Spread bettors could also consider buying England’s supremacy at 16 with Sporting Index.

Owen Farrell kicked England into the lead against Australia to extend that trend to 11 successive home internationals and I’d back the same again at 6/4 with Coral.

Over in Cardiff, reigning Six Nations champions Wales take on South Africa. The Springboks are the second best side in the world and it’s the first time they have met Wales since beating them 17-16 in the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

Coach Heyneke Meyer’s Springboks have played nine Test matches this year, and have won seven of them. Two defeats came against the All Blacks and the last was a tight 27–38 loss in Johannesburg.

They have lost only once in 26 meetings with Wales over a 107-year period and I’d back them to win another with a three-point handicap at 10/11 with Coral.

■ Pointers…
England with -13 handicap at 10/11 with Coral
England penalty to be first scoring play at 6/4 with Coral
Buy England supremacy at 16 with Sporting Index
South Africa with -3 handicap at 10/11 with Coral