Eddie Jones missed his pillar players against Argentina, while Wales got off to a typically slow start and Scotland showed the risks attached to their open rugby.
1) England appear shaky without their foundations
Owen Farrell will return to the England team against Australia on Saturday; the question is where. Eddie Jones played Henry Slade at 12 against Argentina but with a lack of quick ball, the Exeter centre was a marginal figure. The head coach has the option of restoring Farrell to inside-centre and moving Slade to 13, where he has excelled for the Chiefs this season, or putting Farrell at 10 in place of George Ford, who is not at his most effective when weighed down with slow possession. The decision should be made in conjunction with ball-carrying options at forward. Jones has looked for a balance between set-piece proficiency and presence in the loose, but if he puts the lack of dynamism in attack down to something more than rust, Jamie George and Harry Williams come into focus and Maro Itoje’s return would allow Courtney Lawes to move back to the back row. If Jones acts in anger, there will be a shake-up, but he is one who counts to 10 before selecting. What is evident is that when England are without the pillars of Farrell, Itoje and Billy Vunipola, their foundations shake.
England’s new men struggled without Billy Vunipola but Jones will keep faith | Nick Evans
• Match report: England 21-8 Argentina
• Robert Kitson: England can stop Australia – but only if they add dynamism
• England v Argentina: player ratings
2) Under par South Africa are paying for lack of nous
Ireland’s margin of victory over South Africa may have been embellished by three tries in the final nine minutes, but there was no denying their marked superiority over opponents who were as green as their jerseys. The naivety of the Springboks’ back three was exposed by the kicking of Jonathan Sexton, who was at his most ruthlessly efficient. South Africa, despite having a rule that allows the national head coach to pick expats who have won 30 caps or more, have this year largely stuck with players who play for one of their Super Rugby franchises. This was partly a move to stem the flow to Europe, but in Dublin they played the Bath flanker Francois Louw at No 8 while leaving a specialist in the position, Duane Vermeulen, in France. South Africa have won one away match in 11 since the last World Cup as a team short on experience in a number of positions keeps getting exposed.
• Match report: Ireland 38-3 South Africa
• Stockdale hints at future beyond World Cup vote for new-look Ireland
Source: The Guardian