England can capitalise on Springbok injuries

ENGLAND vs SOUTH AFRICA
TOMORROW, 2.30PM, SKY SPORTS

ENGLAND have a final autumn Test to show the southern hemisphere sides that they can be real contenders for the 2011 World Cup. Martin Johnson set his team the target of winning three of their four matches and, judging by the selection, he will take no prisoners in achieving his aim.

The England coach has gone with the same starting XV that comprehensively beat Australia a fortnight ago, returning Mike Tindall to outside centre and Lewis Moody as captain. Should all 15 men collectively play to that level again, there is no question that England can beat the current World Champions by the five point handicap handed to them by Paddy Power.

Although their dominance was not quite so pronounced against Samoa last week, the Red Rose functioned more than adequately against the well-organised defence of the Pacific Islanders, and would have won by many more points if it wasn’t for a number of disallowed tries. In particular, Mark Cueto appears to be in the finest form of his international career, and it would not be a surprise to see the Sale Shark end his run of 16 international matches without a touchdown tomorrow. It’s certainly worth a small bet at 11/4 with Paddy Power.

While England field arguably their strongest team, South Africa will be hindered by the same injury problems that have dogged them throughout this series. The Springboks consequently only scraped past Ireland and Wales, winning by two and four points respectively, before losing to the Scots at Murrayfield last weekend. On the basis of their performances this month – none of the other home nations have looked outstanding – we must conclude that the ‘Boks will struggle against England and back the hosts with a five-point handicap at 10/11 with Paddy Power.

Although all of South Africa’s autumn Tests have seen at least 38 points, the cold weather will be against both sets of players and the Twickenham fans hoping for fireworks to take their minds off the freezing temperatures. Instead, spread bettors could do worse than buying England’s supremacy at 7. We’ve seen that South Africa have not won by more than four points this month, but don’t rule out a repeat of the Springboks’ visit to Twickenham immediately after they last lost at Murrayfield. On that occasion, England, captained by Johnson, recorded their largest ever win over South Africa, in a match that finished 53-3.

POINTERS...
England to win with 5pt handicap at 10/11 with Paddy Power
Mark Cueto to score anytime at 11/4 with Paddy Power
Buy Eng/SA supremacy at 7pts with Sporting Index