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International Rugby: Home nations aim to hit back

After some nail-biting encounters last weekend, all four home nations return to Test action on a jam-packed Saturday of international rugby union.

England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales all suffered defeats in the opening Tests of their respective series and will be looking for a strong response this weekend.

Another tough evening in store for Irish

What

New Zealand v Ireland

Where

Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin

When

08:05, Saturday 9th July 2022

How to watch

Sky Sports Action

OddsNew Zealand 1/7, Ireland 9/2

After a 42-19 drubbing in their first meeting of the series, Andy Farrell's Ireland are going to have to pull off something special to get a result in Dunedin this weekend.

Despite coming off second best by some distance in Auckland, Farrell has made just one change to his starting XV for the second Test, with Mack Hansen coming in for Keith Earls on the wing.

Farrell has given largely the same group of players the chance to put right what went wrong in Auckland, against an All Blacks side who also make just one change, with Dalton Papalii replacing the injured Sam Whitelock.

Ireland will be relieved fly-half Jonathan Sexton passed his return to play protocols after suffering a head injust midway through the first Test.

This will be an intriguing game to see how the Irish respond to last week, especially as they are considered the current fifth favourites to win the World Cup on French soil next year.

After some recent defeat to the men in green, New Zealand have really gone into this series looking to prove a point and it does not look like they will be taking their foot off the gas anytime soon.

Jones eager to exploit opportunities

What

Australia v England

Where

Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

When

10:55, Saturday 9th July 2022

How to watch

Sky Sports Action

OddsAustralia 8/13, England 11/8

England head coach Eddie Jones has tinkered with his backline ahead of the second Test in Brisbane on Saturday.

After a 30-28 defeat to a 14-man Wallabies outfit in Perth last time out, Jones has given debuts to centre Guy Porter and wing Tommy Freeman for the second Test.

Meanwhile Jack van Poortvliet comes in for his first England start at scrum-half and Sam Underhill comes in at openside for the injured Tom Curry.

On his selections, Jones said: "We have decided to make changes in our backline, they were tough calls but we feel they will strengthen the team. There are opportunities to attack against Australia which we can take."

It's hard to see how this encounter will play out in Brisbane after a game in Perth in which neither side showed the best of their abilities.

The sending-off of Darcy Swain in the first half changed the complexion of the game and England will have to raise their game to overcome the Wallabies with all their players on the field this weekend.

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Boks surprise with widespread changes

What

South Africa v Wales

Where

Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein

When

16:05, Saturday 9th July 2022

How to watch

Sky Sports Action

OddsSouth Africa 2/9, Wales 10/3 

There were more than a few eyebrows raised when South Africa made 14 changes to their side for the second Test against Wales, having only won the first 32-29.

Seen by some as disrespectful and by others as giving players a chance to impress ahead of next year's World Cup, the Springboks have never been afraid to ruffle feathers.

Wales make just the one change from their starting line-up, with experienced winger Alex Cuthbert replacing Josh Adams.

The Welsh gave an inspired performance to push South Africa to the last minute last time out, but again it's hard to know what to expect this weekend with the hosts changing all but one of their starters.

Scots handed Watson boost

What

Argentina v Scotland

Where

Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena, Salta

When

20:10, Saturday 9th July 2022

How to watch

Sky Sports Action

OddsArgentina 4/9, Scotland 2/1 

After what was a disappointing 26-18 defeat to Argentina last time out, Scotland will be glad to see Hamish Watson back in blue for the second Test in Salta.

The British & Irish Lions flanker missed the first Test due to injury, but returns to make his 50th appearance for his country.

Fellow flanker Rory Darge, hooker Dave Cherry and second row Sam Skinner also come into the pack, while London Irish scrum-half Ben White has been given a chance to impress from the off.

It was a concerning performance in the first Test from a Scottish perspective and highlighted once again an overreliance on the likes of the absent stars Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg to produce special moments.

Head coach Gregor Townsend will hope the incoming players, along with less errors at restarts and improved discipline, will see his side over the line in this one.

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