Congratulations to Ireland. Joe Schmidt’s men have been the most consistent team in the tournament – they are deserving champions. Eddie Jones’ England now stand in the way of the sweetest Grand Slam.
An Ireland win at Twickenham on St Patrick’s Day would send the travelling fans into raptures. The wheels of the English chariot were dismantled in Scotland and France but will England be as shaky at HQ? Only time will tell.
Questions over Scotland’s mental strength resurfaced after their poor effort in Dublin. The visitors played some scintillating rugby at times but some woeful decision-making proved costly in the end as Ireland ran out comfortable winners.
Scotland have now lost 10 of their previous 11 Six Nations fixtures away from home – their sole win coming against Italy in Rome. Another win in the Italian capital looks likely in Saturday’s early fixture.
In the third and final game of the day, Wales host France at the Principality Stadium. Warren Gatland’s men are currently second in the Six Nations table and it would take a brave man to back against them staying there.
You’d fancy Wales to beat this hit and miss French side even if England defeat Ireland. France were well up for it against England in Paris but they do tend to capitulate on foreign soil.
ITALY vs SCOTLAND
The same old issues continue to haunt Italy. Discipline and individual mistakes are proving very costly in key areas of the pitch – Conor O’Shea’s side are presenting opportunities to their opponents and the likes of Ireland, England and Wales won’t pass up on those.
Neither will Scotland; keeping things tight and remaining disciplined is key for Italy in this contest. Otherwise, this could end up being a very long afternoon for Italy and their supporters.
At Murrayfield, Scotland play some excellent rugby but they do tend to struggle away from home. It is starting to become psychological and those difficulties will be of some concern to Gregor Townsend and his coaching staff.
I fancy Scotland to win this one but it might end up being a much closer game than many are anticipating. 5/2 for a Scottish win by less than 13 points represents solid value.
TIP: Scotland to win by 1-12 points @ 5/2
ENGLAND vs IRELAND
England have won 15 in a row at Twickenham and Eddie Jones’ side have the chance to stop Ireland in their pursuit of Grand Slam glory. Their opponents did the same to England in this competition last year and England would love to return the favour.
For the hosts to stand any chance, their discipline MUST improve. Only Italy have conceded more penalties than England in the 2018 Six Nations - Jones' men conceded 16 in last week's defeat to France.
Joe Schmidt will be quietly confident of securing a positive result at Twickenham. Gifting possession and territory to Ireland via penalties will give Johnny Sexton the opportunity to put England under pressure – the Irish will be expecting a tight encounter.
22/25 isn’t much of a price in such a fixture but siding with Ireland makes sense after England’s recent woes.
TIP: Ireland to win @ 22/25
WALES vs France
Warren Gatland wrung the changes for last week’s clash with Italy and Wales gave a decent enough performance at the Principality Stadium. They were far from perfect but did enough to secure a bonus point victory – they now sit second in the table.
With that in mind, Wales will be keen to put France to the sword here; a win will almost certainly see Gatland’s men finish above England. Most Wales fans would take that...
I’m not expecting much from France this weekend. Les Bleus were excellent against England last time out but that was then and this is now. France are very inconsistent and predicting another top performance would be foolish.
Wales should have enough in the tank to win this one comfortably and the 8/11 available for the hosts to win by seven or more points is worth taking.
TIP: Wales to win by seven points or more @ 8/11
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*