Thu, Jun 7, 11:46am by Staff Writer
Super Rugby takes a hiatus for a month as the June international test matches takes place across the globe.
Australia hosts Ireland for a three-match test series, while New Zealand welcome France and South Africa take on England.
New Zealand versus France
Saturday, 9 June 2018 at 5.35pm AEST at Eden Park, Auckland
The best side in world rugby, New Zealand, should have no trouble brushing aside Les Bleus on Saturday evening and are $1.04 favourites to defeat the French.
France are traditionally poor in the June test series, with New Zealand not having played a June test against them since 2009.
These two sides last met in 2017 at the Stade de France, where New Zealand were 38-18 winners. A first-half barrage saw the Kiwis holding a commanding half-time lead as they retained the Dave Gallaher trophy.
The last time France beat New Zealand was in 2009 at Carisbrook in Dunedin, with the most high-profile match between the two taking place at the 2011 World Cup which New Zealand hosted, where they narrowly defeated the French 8-7.
Steve Hansen has named a very strong side, albeit without Brodie Retallick and Kieran Read up front. The Hurricanes’ Ben Lam is unfortunate to miss out on a spot on in the backline, which is full of talented players.
The Kiwi bench is strong and full of threatening game breakers such as the Chiefs’ Damien McKenzie and France will have their hands full.
Despite New Zealand traditionally being slow starters in these internationals, it hasn’t been a great year for France, winning only two matches in the Six Nations, although one was against England.
They are 25.5-point underdogs in this match at $1.90, but given New Zealand’s slow starts, we are keener on the second-half handicap.
Best bet- New Zealand to cover -13.5-point second half handicap at $1.87
Australia versus Ireland
Saturday, 9 June 2018 at 8pm AEST at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
The Wallabies will face a stern test when they welcome reigning Six Nations champions Ireland to Australia for a three-match test series.
The Wallabies have struggled in June tests in recent years, but have played opposition poorer than the Irish, with wins against Fiji and Italy last season, before a shock loss to Scotland.
Ireland are $1.73 favourites to claim victory in Brisbane, with Australia $2.12 outsiders.
It has been a changing of the guard since the 2015 World Cup final for Australia as they look towards next years tournament in Japan.
There are a number of young and inexperienced players at test level, particularly in the forwards which will have to impress coach Michael Cheika if they are to maintain their position.
The battle for the starting hooker role will be interesting, with the Reds’ Taniela Tupou sure to provide headaches for the Irish defence.
Ireland secured their first Grand Slam since 2009, but have often struggled to translate exceptional form in the Six Nations to the Southern Hemisphere.
Ireland last claimed victory in a series in Australia in 1979, winning 2-0.
Despite Australia’s improvement in Super Rugby this season, bookmakers are still favouring the Irish to continue their Six Nations form.
They will be without Rory Best, with the hooker and captain out for the series with a hamstring injury.
Suncorp Stadium has proven a tough venue for oppositions to earn victory at in the past, and the Wallabies should make life difficult for the travelling Emerald and sneak home in game one.
Best bet- Australia to win at $2.12
South Africa versus England
Sunday, 10 June 2018 at 1.05am AEST at Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Eddie Jones’ English side travel to South Africa as $2.15 underdogs at Sportsbet to upset the hosts who are $1.70 for the first Test in Johannesburg.
England were superb in the November internationals in 2017, but struggled in the Six Nations, finishing fifth out of six teams and only winning two games in all.
South Africa have a new coach in Rassie Erasmus, but they fell to Wales last weekend in Washington D.C. 22-20, albeit with a vastly different side to that which will line up against England on Sunday morning.
England have had an awful 2018, not only in the Six Nations, but they lost to the Barbarians at Twickenham a fortnight ago 63-45, in a result that surely shows that confidence within the England ranks is lacking.
The Red Rose have had good results in recent Southern Hemisphere tours, beating Australia 3-0 and Argentina 2-0 in recent times, but they will have their work cut out for them against a hungry Springboks side.
Best bet- South Africa to win at $1.70
Rugby Internationals Sportsbet Odds
New Zealand $1.04 v France $11.50
Australia $2.12 v Ireland $1.73
South Africa $1.70 v England $2.15
Argentina $1.57 v Wales $2.41
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