Although there have been some good periods of rugby played by England this summer, so far the tour to South Africa has yielded what the bookies expected, no wins over a test nation. A decent midweek result against the Northern Barbarians suggests there may be some talent in the support group, and the Lancaster regime is very much one designed to build for the future but a win on this tour is extremely desirable.
This week has also seen new captain Chris Robshaw ruled out with a thumb injury, which is disappointing for a man who looks to have what it takes as a leader on and off the pitch. Comparisons with Martin Johnson are always unhelpful, but there is a big difference between the side Johnson led and the modern group of players, and Robshaw has impressed many people in the red rose hierarchy so far.
The first two games went 22-17 and 36-27 to South Africa, with England doing much better in the second half of the second test having left themselves a lot of work on, and in their defence the home side are in a rebuilding phase too, with the John Smit/Peter de Villiers axis finally being broken. The new side, captained by Jean de Villiers is similarly brutal to the previous regime, but you wonder if the morale and understanding may have improved now the players feel they can talk to the coach, former Leicester boss Heyneke Meyer.
SportingBet make South Africa 2/7 to win the third test, with England at 7/2 and a draw 25’s, so clearly the task has got not easier for the series being over in their eyes. The men in white will need to start better than they did in the earlier games, as a fifteen-point deficit is not something many sides will come back from against the Boks, and certainly not this young England team. Even if the away side can get ahead at half time there is still a massive task in shutting out the Steyn’s, de Villiers and co.
The sort of scoreline we’ve seen in the tour so far would make the 6/5 with PaddyPower on the South Africans winning by 13+ points a good shout, but the 15/8 they have on a 1-10 point deficit is better value would be my choice. The English have improved as you would expect of a touring side, and although the loss of Robshaw is a blow they are still doing well. The patriots may like the 4/1 with Bet365 on a 1-10 point England win, and best of luck to them.