Other Previews

Six Nations Final Weekend Preview

As expected it has come down to the last weekend to decide the outcome of the 2015 Six Nations. Three teams are in with a chance. England have a points difference of +37, Ireland +33 and Wales +17.

For me, England can justify their odds on tags. France have failed to do enough to convince me that it’ll be anything else than a relatively comfortable England victory. Scotland should push Ireland all the way; they have the motivation of avoiding the wooden spoon and have a slight chance in front of their home fans. Wales will win easily in Rome but 20 points is a lot to make up before kick off. I wouldn’t recommend a bet at their current price but if they drifted to anything nearer evens, I’d say it was worth a bet.

The difficulty about betting this weekend is timing. I wouldn’t actually advise betting on a game before the prior game is finished. Wales play first, then Ireland, then England. Knowing what a team needs to do is so important when making a bet and without this one cannot really make an informed decision… but I’m going to have a go!

 

Italy v Wales, 12.30

Sergio Parisse is my hero. No matter how useless and ineffective the players around him have been for the past ten years, I can’t remember him having anything short of an outstanding game for the Azzurri. Sadly for Italians, he will not feature against Wales and for me this spells great danger for the Italians!

While the TV pundits continue to treat their win at Murryfield as a monumental turning point in Italian rugby, it was simply that Scotland didn’t take their chances and the Italian pack got on top in the last twenty minutes. Apart from Parisse (and a few select others), there just isn’t enough quality in the team. Haimona maybe entertaining to watch but he isn’t what an international 10 should look like (or any 10 to be perfectly honest). The Italian backs looked totally devoid of ideas against France. While they weren’t aided by the weather conditions, it’s embarrassing to be beaten to nil at home.

If they are to have a realistic chance of winning, Wales really need to win by 30 points in Rome. I think they have every chance of doing this. In stark contrast to the Italian backs, Wales have pace, strength and flair. North, Davies, Williams and Halfpenny have the ability to terrorise any defence in the world and I have a feeling they could run riot.

My only concern is in the front row. Aaron Jarvis and Rob Evans are enforced changes and aren’t experienced. However, I think Wales will be keen to throw the ball around as much as possible, particularly in the second half, so this will be less of an issue.

The best bet for this match in my opinion is for Wales to win the second half by 12 points or more. They will try to win the game in the first half and put the points on in the second. The Italians will tire and I think we could see three or four tries being run in.

Wales -12 Second Half handicap (10/11 – Ladbrokes)

 

Scotland v Ireland 14.30

This is a fascinating game. Ireland will want to win by a few in order to challenge England to the title while the Scottish will be playing for pride after a disappointing campaign.

I had money on Wales beating Ireland last weekend. Ireland didn’t look wholly convincing against England; their kicking game was spot on which won them a lot of territory but in other areas they looked average. I think the bookies have overestimated them again. I regularly use motivation as a reason for my tips but this has to be weighed beside ability and I just don’t think the gulf in class between these two is as great as the cap suggests.

Ireland have named a strong side with Healy returning in the front row. They will of course be up for this match and will throw everything at Scotland. However, their performances so far just don’t convince me that they can win by any more than a score or two.

Scotland haven’t got the results but they’ve impressed me under Cotter. He’s clearly a very good coach and will have a plan for how to deal with Ireland’s attack. The Scottish pack have held their own well in games so I can’t see the Irish getting a stronghold in any particular area. Laidlaw’s unforgiving boot will keep Scotland in this game.

The head to head record is also promising. The last two games played between these two at Murryfield have gone the way of the hosts. Might we see an upset here? Probably not but I think it could be a very close game indeed.

Scotland +11 (8/11 – Ladbrokes)

 

England v France 17.00

The motivations, the expectations and ultimately the way this game goes will be totally dependent upon the results in Rome and Edinburgh so I’d probably hold off in backing this tip until about 16.30!

The reality will probably be that France have nothing to play for and England have to win by about 10 points. In which case, there’s only one sensible option – back England to cover the handicap.

England have impressed me this tournament. They’ve created a lot of chances (last week squandering the vast majority) and have played an entertaining brand of rugby. They have a really excellent record at Twickenham (they haven’t actually lost since 2012 against Wales) and should get the win against the French.

Watching France is for me much like filling a balloon with air and letting it go without tying a knot. My hopes and expectations fly into the air before just as quickly sinking to the floor often accompanied by a comical trump. This tournament has been no different; talented players lacking direction and ultimately failing to deliver the goods. I’m not overly encouraged by the display against Italy despite the impressive scoreline. It was a scrappy game and more of a case of Italy playing poorly than France impressing.

France haven’t won in London since 2007. In fact, the latest victories have all been by a healthy margin; 10 points (2013), 8 points (2011) and 24 points (2009). Considering that there is a greater motivation to score points and this French team are quite possibly worse than any of those previous sides, this is only encouraging.

England -9 (10/11 – Ladbrokes)

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