Irish to bounce back against Azzurri, Wales worth a wager to win away to Red Rose and Les Bleus can land blows on Scots.
A crunch clash title and essentially title decider between England and Wales at Twickenham headlines week 4 of the 2016 Six Nations, but there are also appealing wagers to be had on the other fixtures.
Holders Ireland host Italy prior to Warren Gatland’s Dragons have their potential championship decider away to the Red Rose on Saturday, and then France travel to Scotland. Here are our top tips for these latest Six Nations encounters.
Ireland to win with -29 handicap
Joe Schmidt’s Irish team have covered this amount against the Azzurri in three of their last five head-to-heads, making terrific odds of 13/8 with Ladbrokes well worth taking in the handicap market.
Italy have an outgoing coach in Jacques Brunel and this could be his penultimate match in charge before touted successor Conor O’Shea of Harlequins takes charge.
The Azzurri have named a new half back pairing in Zebre duo Guglielmo Palazzani and Edoardo Padovani, and their limited experience is vastly outweighed by opposite numbers Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray, who was heavily involved for Ireland against England last time out.
Winger Keith Earls has been prolific when paired with this opposition, scoring four tries in six Tests against them so, with Jared Payne back at centre and Simon Zebo in the full back berth, Ireland could run riot.
Wales beat England
This bold bet is backed up by the fact the Dragons defeated their hosts on home turf at the recent Rugby World Cup. Eddie Jones’ effect on the Red Rose seems very steady, and he continues to select the bulk of his XV from players used by predecessor Stuart Lancaster.
Such personnel weren’t up the job in the Rugby World Cup, so what has changed apart from centre Manu Tuilagi’s return to the bench? Gareth Davies, meanwhile, remains one of the most in-form scrum halves in the game, and winger George North looks back to his best in a Welsh shirt.
Given their injury crisis last year, it must refreshing for Gatland to be able to name an unchanged team, with the Dragons roster strengthened by the return of Rhys Webb among the replacements.
Effecting a second-half collapse of minnows Italy apart, England simply haven’t won convincingly during this Six Nations campaign, and a tasty top-price of 2/1 on offer with Boylesports on a Wales win at Twickenham is crying out to be snapped up.
France win by a margin of 1-10 points
Although out-muscled in Cardiff last time out, Les Bleus’ two Six Nations victories have been ugly ones. Guy Noves is clearly setting his side up to be physical and target weak points.
There’s nothing new in that when it comes to international rugby union, but the French face a Scotland side they’ve lost to just once since the expansion to make this tournament the Six Nations took place in 2000.
Each of the last five encounters have been narrow defeats for the Tartan team and more of the same could be on the cards here. Taking the 1-10 points bracket on Les Bleus as their margin of victory gives great top odds of 9/4 with Coral.
All odds were correct at time of posting.