The opening test between these two teams is going to be nothing but interesting as we are likely to see a lot of rust early on as combinations begin to form.
England came over to Australia with a squad of 36 with 8 of them uncapped, with 6 of them in the backline. They had a fair amount of players out due to injury and personal reasons, but the squad should be good enough to be competitive against Australia. There has been much debate over who will wear the coveted No.10 jersey, once made renowned by Jonny Wilkinson, but speculation suggests it will be the young livewire Marcus Smith with the experienced Owen Farrell likely to wear the 12 jersey to form a combination. This could pose a weakness in their defensive line depending on who Australia land with in the 10 and 12.
Australia will be optimistic following a pretty successful Super Rugby campaign but they still have a bit of inexperience in the group, mixed with the injury to Taniela Tupou, which severely hurts the pack. It is likely we will see Quade Cooper in the 10 jersey with the dynamite duo of Kerevu and Ikitau in the centres and Tom Banks will likely get the nod ahead of Jordan Petaia at fullback.
This game will be won in the trenches, and by that, I mean the forwards. Had Tupou have been healthy, the Wallabies would have backed themselves to dominate the English in the scrums but with his injury and a couple of others going down, they are once again on the back foot at the scrum base. Whichever team can get themselves into gear around the set pieces and the rucks, will go a long way to winning this game. Of course discipline is going to play a major factor, something that destroyed Australia last year.
Australia is going to love their chances with England coming off not only a poor campaign in the Six Nations but they were humiliated against a 14-man Barbarians team, in a game where they really should have won and won well. But which Australia is going to turn up? This game could really go either way depending on which side puts together the most amount of error-free rugby, which sounds too easy, but being the first game, I am expecting penalties and a lot of errors.
I think Australia will get the job done in a tight one, purely because I think they can cause England some grief in the backline. Australia will need to be on their toes in their own half because England will not hesitate to use the boot of Marcus Smith at any chance they can get.
Tip: Australia ($1.52)
Line: England +4.5 ($1.90)
Margin: Australia 1-12 ($2.70)
*Prices via NSW TAB as of 29/06/22
Bet: Being the first game of the test series, I am expecting to see some rust from both teams. Discipline is going to be key as both teams will happily take the three points if they are within range. I am going to be betting small and betting two ways. England with the 4.5 start and Australia 1-12. Hypothetically, the only way we can lose everything is if Australia blows England away, which can happen but I think it is unlikely. Betting this way ensures that if it’s a tight game, we are going to walk away with something and a hell of a lot of knowledge for game two. All going well, we can easily collect on both.
England +4.5 | 2u @ $1.90
Australia 1-12 | 1.5u @ $2.70