Week 1 has been and gone. The results are in and form has been set. So what are the fixtures and predictions for week 2?
There’s a lot of tight fixtures predicted this weekend, and half of these could go either way. From a data perspective, we hope the favourites pull through, but from a fan perspective, well, everyone loves an underdog!
England and Australia is our pick for the match of the weekend, with the Australians looking to end a run of 4 straight defeats to the English. With a relatively poor selection of matches for the English this Autumn, this will be the match that they have targeted to make a statement about their intentions going forward for the World Cup. After a forgettable performance against the Argentinians in week 1, the English will need to up their game to compete with the Australians at the weekend.
Australia, according to England head coach Eddie Jones, are the form team in the world at the moment. Although known for his pre-match trash talk, he does have a point. With a run of 8 matches undefeated which, although it includes 2 draws against South Africa, also includes a rare win over the All Blacks, the Australians will no doubt have a confident air heading to Twickenham.
Our model has the match finishing 31-20 to the English, which clearly looks like a fairly one sided affair. This is due to England’s tremendous run over the past 2 years giving them a statistically very strong chance of winning. However, combined with their and Australia’s recent form (which won’t have had time to influence the model) we think that this game will be a little closer … but still an English win.
There are a few close games this weekend (close being a fairly arbitrary measure, but something we define as somewhere around 50-80%), but the biggest one is undoubtably France v South Africa.
France v South Africa is currently on a knife edge. Last week the match was slightly in South Africa’s favour, but this has subsequently become even closer after their respective performances in week 1. The latest projections give a 0.1 point victory to South Africa, which has been rounded to a draw. Both teams are quite unpredictable and we really don’t know how to call it, so we’ll stick to the projections and say nothing will separate them come full time. Needless to say, if this prediction comes off we’ll be renaming the model Nostradamus and shouting from the rooftops.
Romania, Japan and Namibia are also predicted to relatively close matches, however due to the lack of consistent data available for lower tiered matches compared to higher tiers, these are often more difficult to predict. If we had to pick a winner based on gut rather than data, we would actually pick Samoa, Tonga and Uruguay to win those games, so it will be interesting to see who emerges victorious.
There are 4 matches where one side has a greater than 80% of winning.
New Zealand are usually in this category, and this week is no exception, with the Kiwis expected to run out comfortable 18 point victors over the Scots in Murrayfield. Scotland have never beaten New Zealand, and although their recent form is good, they will have to perform significantly better than they did against Samoa to topple the All Blacks.
Ireland and Wales are both predicted to easily see off their opponents, Fiji and Georgia, by 26 and 21 points respectively. Although both occasionally delight in traumatising their fans in these banana skin games, we foresee no problems for either of them.
Argentina have a slightly lower than 80% chance of seeing off Italy this weekend with the latest projections giving them a 9 point victory over the Azurri. However, given their lacklustre performance against England, they will have to put in a stronger effort to see off an Italian side who put in a spirited performance to beat Fiji last weekend.
That’s the brief summary for now, please share and follow to see the head to heads later on in the week!