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England & Ireland both to win this Saturday has been boosted to 11/10!
Putting on my non-bias rugby watching cap, it was a week that was not only enjoyable but one that has thrown a few spanners in the works. Wales looked very good, Ireland didn’t and England were dreadful. Admittedly, Italy would probably struggle to win the Women’s Six Nations, Scotland looked hungry and France played their best game of rugby for longer than I can remember. But instead of being retrospective, let’s look forward to this week’s fixtures and see where my hard-earned coin will be going.
Ireland vs Wales (14:15 Saturday)
Clive’s play: Wales +3 @ 11/10
When I first saw this fixture on paper, I thought there would be nothing in it betting wise, especially after happened last weekend. To my surprise, Wales are the underdogs. In what will be a tight encounter, having a three-point cushion can’t be underestimated.
Wales were clinical and looked very solid up front. The most impressive thing for me, however, was bagelling Italy on the scoreboard. To not give an international team even a sniff at the posts is incredibly impressive and one that showed unbelievable discipline and superb work rate. The try-scoring form of Josh Adams has been immense and he already looks to be nailed on for a starting Lions spot. There were concerns about Halfpenny coming in for the injured Liam Williams but I thought he had one of his best games in the Wales jersey for a long time.
Ireland make two changes, make them a slightly weaker outfit, especially in the backs. Henshaw comes in for the injured Ringrose whose attacking wizardry will be missed. Henshaw is a great player in his own right but he will not be able to run through his opposite man, the behemoth that is George North. Unlocking this very talented Wales backline will be a seriously tough ask over the weekend.
I think this game will ultimately be won in the backs as both teams’ forwards are pretty evenly matched. I wouldn’t be surprised if Wales win this so taking the +3 on the handicap for me is a no brainer.
Scotland vs England (16:45 Saturday)
Clive’s play: Scotland +9 @ 10/11
How bad were England? Potentially the worst they have played in over 2 years! The selection was all over the shop, their kicking game was mindless and not playing to the whistle was shocking. Everyone has been chatting about how amazing Jonny May was, but he was completely at fault for France’s second try. What he did was criminal, completely stopping dead in his tracks because he ‘thought’ there was a French knock-on. We talk about momentum in sport but had May not stopped to tie his shoelace, the difference between 17-0 and 10-0 at half time is enormous.
Scotland played well, on the other hand. I thought they were the better team on Saturday and were unlucky not to score a few tries of their own. That killer instinct was lacking and had it not been for butterfingers Stuart Hogg, Scotland would have won it.
A lot has to improve for England to cover this handicap, although they do obviously have the players and pedigree to do it. However, Murrayfield is a notoriously hard place to go and win. With Scotland riding on a slight high from last weekend, they will be up for this.
France vs Italy (15:00 Sunday)
Clive’s play: Italy +26 @ 10/11
France were good; excellent, in fact. The difference Shaun Edwards has had over the team in such a short space of time has been immeasurable. From 1 through to 15, they were better, quicker and smarter than England and the future looks exciting for this young crop of French players. However, as we all know and probably love, France have always been capable of immense one-off performances. The problem for them has been consistency. I have my doubts still, which is why I am backing Italy on a rather large starting handicap.
France will rest players against what they will perceive to be a weak and ‘Home Run’ type of match against Italy. Don’t get me wrong, I think France will win but changes will mean continuity will be lost, giving Italy more of a sniff! I was hugely impressed with France’s backline, particularly in defence. There might be a slight caveat to the bet above… if France don’t make any changes to the team that beat England, I will be hopping on the other side of the handicap.
Italy have problems, loads of them. The argument for promotion and relegation into the 6 Nations is gaining more and more traction for every gubbing the Italians take. Without their talisman, and one of my top three man-crushes ever Sergio Parisse playing, they look well short of any direction. He is a 10 point player for the Italians, and I do hope he comes back from injury in time to play this week. If he plays, I won’t even need to watch the match to see what the handicap is doing. It will be like buying money.