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Autumn Nations Cup: Round 1 Preview


Darry Worthington previews the four Round 1 Autumn Nations Cup fixtures, which will get underway on Friday the 13th of November. 

Image copyright – Steve Haag Sports

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

The Six Nations sides and Georgia and Fiji go head-to-head in the Nations Cup, with the tournament’s opening round starting this Friday. 

The tournament has two pools with Pool A consisting of England, Wales, Georgia and Ireland while Pool B features Scotland, Italy, France and Fiji. 

The opening weekend has thrown up a number of intriguing fixtures with the pick of the bunch seeing France take on Fiji in the final game of the weekend. 

Ireland v Wales
Friday 13 November

Aviva Stadium

To Win (80 Mins)

Ireland 1/4
Draw 25/1 

Wales 3/1

Ireland (-9.5)
Wales (+9.5)

We open the Autumn Nations Cup up with a clash between old Six Nations rivals Ireland and Wales. The two sides were below par in this year’s Six Nations with Ireland finishing third and Wales finishing fifth. The Dragons only won one of their five games while Ireland managed to win three of theirs with their defeats coming at the hands of England and France. 

When the two sides met earlier this year Ireland ran out 24-14 victors at the Aviva Stadium. The two sides both head into this one off the back of defeat with Ireland going down 35-27 to France a fortnight ago and Wales losing 10-14 to Scotland. 

Verdict: Ireland 9/10 (-9.5)
I reckon Wales will struggle here. They seem at six and sevens with Wayne Pivac at the helm and are far from the dogged side that used to outmuscle teams while Warren Gatland was steering the ship. I’m confident the hosts will clear the ‘cap here. 

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Italy v Scotland

Saturday 14 November
Stade Artemio Franchi
To Win (80 Mins)
Italy 33/10

Draw 25/1 
Scotland 2/9

Italy (+10.5)
Scotland (-10.5)

We kick Saturday’s action off with another all Six Nations fixture that will see the Italians play host to the ‘Scots. The hosts endured a dire Six Nations campaign and yet again failed to win a game. They finished the tournament with a horrific points differential of -134. 

The ‘Scots fared slightly better in the recently concluded Six Nations finishing fourth on the log with three wins from their five fixtures. One of the aforementioned victories saw them beat the Italians 0-17 in Rome. 

The ‘Scots have some real injury concerns headed into Saturday with both Finn Russel and Adam Hastings injured. With the two pivots out, we’re likely to see Duncan Weir don the number 10 jumper.  

Verdict: Italy 9/10 (+10.5)
I reckon Italy will give the visitors a run with the two Scottish incumbent pivots out of action. 

England v Georgia 
Saturday 14 November


To Win (80 Mins)

Draw 35/1
Georgia 30/1

England 9/10 (- 37.5)

Georgia 9/10 (+37.5)

Next up we have the reigning Six Nations champions England taking on the grizzled Georgians at Twickenham. The visitors haven’t played much rugby this term while the English will have knocked off a lot of ring rust having played Italy just a fortnight ago. The Georgians did play a warm-up fixture two weeks prior to that. That game saw them go down 48-7 to Scotland. 

Games between these sides tend to be attritional affairs with the Georgian forwards often giving their English counterparts a tough time at the setpiece and breakdown. The two sides have only met twice with England winning the first fixture 41-10 and the second 84-6. 

Verdict: England 9/10 (-37.5)
I expect a very hard-fought opening 20 minutes and then for England to run away with it. 

France v Fiji

Sunday 15 November
Stade de la Rabine

To Win (80 Mins)


The final fixture of the weekend should be an absolute cracker with a strong Fijian squad take on the talented French. The hosts enjoyed a great Six Nations campaign which saw them finish in second and register wins over Ireland and England. 

The Fijians, have played little rugby this year with the national side only linking up recently. They do have a number of players who ply their trade in the Gallagher Premiership and the French Top 14 so they won’t be entirely ring rusty headed into this one. 

Verdict: France (-)
While Fiji did win the last game between these sides in France, I fancy the hosts to take the honors by a comfortable margin here. 

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