Sky Bet's rugby tipster Jordan Fiddes looks at where the smart money will be heading this weekend.
By Jordan Fiddes
Last Updated: 30/11/12 11:08am
Disappointing results against Australia and South Africa should mean only the most patriotic of punters will be left backing England to avoid a South Hemisphere whitewash on Saturday, even at a long price.
I'm all for patriotism and nothing would please me more than seeing Stuart Lancaster's men get one over the current world champions, but the form of both sides in recent weeks means that will be a long shot - a 6/1 long shot to be precise.
Toby Flood will be a huge loss for England, yet Owen Farrell may have the 'X-Factor' needed to match (or, dare I say it, beat) the men from New Zealand.
Nominated for the IRB Player of the Year Award this week, 21-year-old should be brimming with confidence.
Against South Africa last week, he threw more passes than Toby Flood with less game time. If he can continue to offer that much-needed creative edge, I'd expect the England wingers to see more of the ball. Chris Ashton is a massive 10/1 to score first.
In such a tough match, England will look to get on board at the first possible opportunity so I like the look of the 'first scoring play' to be an England penalty at 2/1.
However, as Farrell comes in for England, Dan Carter returns for the All Blacks. I probably don't need to elaborate on this, his name alone oozes class, but I will...
New Zealand have won 88.7 per cent of their games with Carter in their side since his debut in 2003, kicking 1,381 points in the process. For him to kick a penalty as the 'first scoring play' is 13/8. If you fancy the bigger odds, he's 25/1 to score a drop goal in the same market.
The visitors will be without hooker Andrew Hore for the game at Twickenham. He's been banned for five games after striking Welsh lock Bradley Davies last week, paving way for the experienced Kevin Mealamu in the front row.
With England's pack arguably their biggest asset, this might well prove a blessing in disguise. New Zealand had a scrum success rate of over 93 per cent last week, whereas England managed a perfect 100 per cent.
If England are to win this game, they will need to keep that up against the All Blacks and, even better, win some against the head.
Where is the value?
There is no value in the 1/12 outright price for New Zealand but alternative handicaps could see some good returns. They are 15/8 to win by more than 22 points and, once on a roll, the Kiwis are hard to stop. However, I'm backing England with the +18 handicap this week in the belief that Lancaster's men will be desperate to prove a point and keep it competitive amid a raucous atmosphere at Twickenham.
As I've already mentioned, Ashton to be first tryscorer is a good bet at 10/1 but if you are feeling a little bit adventurous, why not try Conrad Smith to score first at 14/1?
The outside-centre has scored 23 tries for New Zealand and with Carter back in the side, he is likely to have the chance to run at the defence a lot more. If those odds look a bit intimidating, go each way, that way if he scores the second or third try, you'll still get a good return.
Word from the Sky Bet trading room...
"When the market was first formed on Monday, we initially traded at England +17. The hosts currently trade at +16 and could easily be 15-point underdogs come kick-off on Saturday.
"Chris Ashton is as popular as ever for first tryscorer and has shortened from his opening quote of 14/1 to current odds of 10/1."
Saturday's other autumn international sees Wales take on Australia. I have mixed feelings about this game. My heart says the Welsh but my head backs the men from Down Under.
Both these sides have underwhelmed this year but in their most recent games, have improved slightly.
Although Wales were defeated comfortably by New Zealand last week, they can take pride from the way they finished the game. You can get odds of 4/5 on the second half being the one with the most points, which I see as the banker of the weekend.
Unfortunately, the game against the Kiwis came at a cost for Wales with tight-head prop Aaron Jarvis headlining a list of a possible nine injured players. Jarvis suffered a knee injury in the opening minutes of the game against the All Blacks and faces a lengthy lay-off.
Australia seem to be improving every week and now have backs who can finish off the strong work made by the forwards. In winger Nick Cummins they have a potential superstar and he is 10/1 to score the first try. Similar to Ashton for England, if the Aussies get the ball wide, he has a good chance of crossing the whitewash.
Where is the value?
I can't see any value in the handicap for this one so full credit to the traders there, but if you like the look of Wales at +3, push the boat and get them at 11/8 outright. At the same price, however, you can get the Aussies -9, which I think has more of a chance.
Australia seem to have a bit more pace out wide this year and I'm looking at an Australia try as the 'first scoring play' in this one. You can get 9/2 on that happening.
Word from the Sky Bet Trading Room...
"Injury doubts have surrounded the Wales team all week but positive news has seen them shorten from initial four-point underdogs to now receiving a three-point start.
"Key winger George North was hoping to make the starting XV but in his absence Liam Williams is proving popular at 12/1 to open the try scoring."