England face off against the Wallabies, Springboks take on the Scots

Updated: November 16, 2012

Autumn International rugby continues this week as the might of the Southern Hemisphere continue to do battle with the best of the North, in week 2 of the International season. England take a step up in class this week when they host the Wallabies, South Africa move on to Murrayfield to take on the plucky Scots, World Champions New Zealand face Italy in Rome, Wales look to put their defeat to Argentina behind them when they host Samoa and France look to build on their superb win last week over Australia against the powerful Argentinians.

Australia will have a point to prove this week against England at Twickenham. After slumping to a 33-6 defeat against France in Paris last week, the pressure is mounting on Robbie Deans’ injury-hit squad and they face a confident England side who ran Fiji ragged. Chris Ashton makes his return for England, 2 years after scoring that spectacular try against the same opposition. This time round however the England winner hasn’t crossed the line for 9 Test matches and will be looking to find his scoring touch again. The explosive Manu Tuilagi is always good to watch at outside centre, but the backline will rely on busy scrumhalf Danny Care to get good quality ball. Up front experienced tighthead prop Dan Cole will anchor the England pack in order to give players like Thomas Waldrom the platform to impose themselves. Kurtley Beale has taken to his new role as flyhalf quite well but has perhaps lacked enough support on his outside, so he will relish linking up with the returning Digby Ioane who makes more line-breaks than anyone else in the team. Nathan Sharpe may be within sight of the end of his career, but he needs to produce a big preformance to inspire something in his team, one player who will give everything is Michael Hooper who will be desperate to show that Pocock’s absence is not such a huge blow.

South Africa will hope to follow up their win against Ireland last week when they take on the Scots at Murrayfield. They will however remember that only last year starting as favourites they were stunned by the Scots in driving rain. This year expect the Boks to come out fighting and with the stronger pack, the Scots will probably out of their depth for a second week running.

France host Argentina in what looks an exciting match up. Both sides registered wins last week, France in comprehensive fashion over Australia, and Argentina with a stunning win over 6 Nations Champions Wales. France have only made one change to their team from last week, the spotlight will automatically fall on lock Yoann Maestri, back from an injury that prevented him from fronting up to the Aussies last week. He has been around the French national team since 2010  a breakout year for him and his physicality will be vital against the Argentinians. Flyhalf Frederic Michalak will be a key player if the French hope to be consistent, as he could be sublime one week and utterly dismal the next. When he is on song, he is a joy to watch. For Argentina injuries will force the spotlight onto Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, who comes in for Juan Martin Hernandez at fullback and Marcelo Bosch has also been promoted to the starting XV after knee ligament damage ruled out veteran  centre Felipe Contepomi. Contepomi and Hernandez were key elements in the Puma game plan and Amorosino and Bosch will be under pressure to step up. There has been plenty of media attention on left wing Juan Imhoff, who will be keen to show he deserves a more regular starting spot than he got this year.

New Zealand take on Italy in what should be an even more one sided affair than last weeks victory over the Scots. A second string All Blacks shouldn’t have to many problems rattling up the points against an Italian team that will struggle.

In other games, Ireland host a poor Fiji, while Wales look to bounce back against a Samoan team that has every chance of causing an upset for the second week in a row at the Millennium Stadium.