Straight Match betting: Ireland 2/7; Draw 28/1; Samoa 3/1.
Samoa have it tough. The eternal travellers of the top-tier rugby world have played precisely one home test match against another IRB top 10 side in the last decade (a 16-17 loss to Scotland in 2012) and have had a 20 per cent win rate against Six Nations teams in that time.
Playing against the French Barbarians and Georgia in the two weeks after their visit to Dublin, their Autumn schedule is hardly one befitting a team ranked seventh in the world. The Samoans are large and talented men and this is their biggest match of the tour by some distance.
Nine point handicap aside, a focused and fired-up Samoa would in many ways fancy themselves to take victory against an Ireland team whose last Six Nations outing saw them lose against Italy, a team disposed of handily by Samoa in their last test match in June.
All the sweeter if such a win were to come in Dublin, home of test rugby’s administrative overseers.
Ireland, one place behind Samoa in the world rankings, are 2/7 favourites for the win but without Jonathan Sexton at the helm those nine points are somewhat enticing.
Quite apart from his play-making, Sexton has kicked 83 per cent this season while Paddy Jackson has kicked just 64 per cent of his goals in Pro 12 and Heineken Cup play. Ireland have named a bench full of impact talent.
But for anyone who reckons that Samoa can hold their own in the set piece versus a green Jack McGrath and cause some controlled chaos at the breakdown with flanker Jack Lam – that handicap could be worth a punt.
SPECIAL: 4/1 for Samoa to cover the half-time handicap (+4) and Ireland (-9) to use their strong bench and beat the handicap by full time.
RefWatch: The true highlight of this match will be the man in the middle, Steve Walsh, a man whose hair is so lustrous he now referees under an Australian flag because New Zealand just wasn’t big enough.
Straight Match betting: Wales 6/4, Draw 25/1, South Africa 4/7.
In the last 106 years Wales have played 26 tests against South Africa, winning just once in 1999.
However you dress that up, it’s a pig of a run. But things might be looking up for the men of the valleys against the men of the high veld. Since 2008 Wales have played South Africa six times. That they lost all six of those games is not interesting, but it’s worth noting that their margin of defeat has been declining.
Wales are evens (+4) with South Africa at evens (-4). The draw (4) is 20/1.
South Africa had an excellent Rugby Championship, beaten only by an outstanding New Zealand side in Ellis Park in one of the greatest games of rugby seen in a long time. Wales are a team full of Lions playing their first test together again for their country since beating the Australians on tour.
RefWatch: Alain Rolland. The former international scrum half who sent off Sam Warburton in the 2001 Rugby World Cup semi-final takes charge of his final Autumn test before retiring at the end of the season. A 5.30pmkick-off is an interesting decision, introducing the probability of a well-lubricated Millennium Stadium crowd offering regular opinion of Mr. Rolland’s decisions with both volume and feeling.
A gut call says Wales cover the handicap (+4) evens but the fun bet will be a few quid on a cheeky draw at 25/1 on the handicap (+4). Th draw is 25/1 on the straight match-betting with Paddy Power.