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Autumn Internationals: Week Five preview

After the thrills and spills of last weekend’s action, there’s one more Saturday of the autumn rugby union series to look forward to.

Response needed from Wales

What: Wales v Australia
Where: Principality Stadium, Cardiff
When: 15:15, Saturday 26th November
How to watch: Amazon Prime
Odds: Wales 8/11, Australia 11/10

The shockwaves are still rippling around Welsh rugby following the shock of a 13-12 defeat in Cardiff at the hands of Georgia.

That result, on the back of a home defeat to Italy in the Six Nations earlier this year, has left many asking big questions on Wales’ hopes ahead of a massive year of rugby in 2023.

Head coach Wayne Pivac has made six changes from the side that lost to the Georgians ahead of the arrival of Australia this weekend.

Ospreys centre Joe Hawkins is set to make his debut for his country in place of the injured Owen Watkins, while veteran lock Alun Wyn Jones has been brought back into the second row.

As for Australia, they will be looking to dust themselves down and go again after a drab 13-10 defeat at the hands of Ireland in Dublin last weekend.

It has been a tough tour of the northern hemisphere for Dave Rennie’s side, with a narrow 16-15 win over Scotland followed by defeats to France, Italy and the Irish.

Saturday sees a battle between two head coaches under extreme pressure less than a year out from the World Cup on French soil.

However, the Wallabies do have a good record against the Welsh, having won 13 of their 16 previous meetings.

Considering the turmoil in the Wales camp after a humbling defeat to Georgia, Australia look good value at 11/10 to finish their tour off on a positive note with a win.

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Which England will show up against the Boks?

What: England v South Africa
Where: Twickenham Stadium, London
When: 17:30, Saturday 26th November
How to watch: Amazon Prime
Odds: England 8/13, South Africa 11/8

It’s hard to know where England stand under Eddie Jones as the 2023 Six Nations and World Cup approach.

The Red Rose have been somewhat Jekyll and Hyde over the course of the autumn series and even in the midst of a single game.

Looking like they were in for a tough evening against New Zealand, England rallied to help secure a 25-25 draw at Twickenham last time out.

Added to that a defeat on home soil to Argentina and a convincing win over Japan, how good is this England team really?

Some of the answers should emerge after the full-time whistle on Saturday, as a Test match with South Africa will usually leave a team’s strengths and weaknesses laid bare.

Jones has made four changes from the side that drew with the All Blacks, with Northampton Saints’ Tommy Freeman taking Jack Nowell’s spot on the wing.

Meanwhile, Ellis Genge and Luke Cowan-Dickie have dropped to the bench, with Mako Vunipola and Jamie George coming into the front-row.

In the back-row Alex Coles comes in also to replace Sam Simmonds at flanker, while Jack van Poortvliet continues at scrum-half.

Van Poortvliet had a tough first half against the All Blacks, but Jones is sticking with the youngster ahead of the more experienced Ben Youngs.

It has been a somewhat underwhelming tour so far from South Africa, with the Boks being edged out by Ireland, before losing to France in a titanic tussle in Marseille.

A regulation win over Italy will have been little consolation for the first two defeats, but the Boks do have a chance to end their tour on a positive note.

Much like Australia, there does seem to be value in going for the away win with South Africa at 11/8, especially considering the Boks have won 14 of the last 19 meetings between the sides.

The physical Boks will look to pile the pressure on Van Poortvliet and the English pack and it could be the Springboks who are the ones smiling at the full-time whistle.

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