Connect with us


Six Nations: 5 Key Battles

It was a superb 1st round in the 6 Nations with 2023 champions Ireland getting off to a fast start while England and Scotland claimed narrow victories.

Six Nations

It was a superb 1st round in the 6 Nations with 2023 champions Ireland getting off to a fast start while England and Scotland claimed narrow victories. Round 2 is on the horizon and Bet Central explores all the key duels.

Scotland v France: Locks Face Off

Both Scotland and France’s starting tight head locks last week are unavailable for this week meaning Grant Gilchrist starts for Scotland while Cameron Woki comes into the starting lineup for the suspended Paul Willemse.

Gilchrist is in for the injured Richie Gray and is very much a like-for-like replacement with the big lock boasting physicality and athleticism that will trouble France. His added leadership and experience will also help Scotland in what should be a tough game.

Woki was perhaps the breakthrough player of the 2022 6 Nations, but he hasn’t quite been able to hit those heights again. But the time is ripe for him to hit his best form again, at the forefront of his selection though is a lineout that faltered against Ireland. The Racing 92 man is an impressive lineout operator, and his presence could change his team’s fortunes.

Scotland v France: The Best In The North

If someone were to ask for a Northern Hemisphere XV today, there would be many ferocious debates for a number of positions. But it is unlikely there would be a debate when it comes to the wingers for that XV, Damian Penaud is arguably the finest winger in the world while very few left wingers can match up to Duhan van der Merwe.

That is the battle that will take place at Murrayfield this weekend, 2 fine wingers collide in the heat of battle. Penaud scored against Ireland and France will look to get him into more space this weekend so that he can finish to good effect.

Van der Merwe’s physicality and pace make him such a handful and while Penaud is known for his offensive qualities, defensively he will need to be at his best to guard the danger that van der Merwe poses. It will be a tasty battle on the wing this week.

England v Wales: Playing For Places

Sam Underhill was once a mainstay of the England side when he played on the flank in tandem with Tom Curry. He was one of Eddie Jones’ most trusted players, but with the rise of young talents like Ben Earl and Jack Willis, he found himself on the periphery.

He has returned to the team now and will be looking to establish himself again. Curry will return, but if Underhill plays well, it could be to a bench role. He goes up against Wales’ best player last week Tommy Reffell.

The Leicester Tigers flanker was superb against Scotland and will look to be a similar thorn for England especially since he is familiar with a lot of the players in the England squad. Reffell is also using this opportunity to establish himself in the absence of regular Wales captain Jac Morgan.

England v Wales: Impactful 9s

Alex Mitchell has had a rollercoaster year on the way to becoming England’s 1st choice no.9, from almost not going to the World Cup to being one of the best 9s in the tournament and thereafter holding onto the England starting scrumhalf berth.

His rise has been incredible, but standing in his way this week is Tomos Williams who just last week almost helped Wales to one of the most incredible comebacks in recent history on the Test arena. His impact off the bench is rewarded with a start this week as he comes into the starting team.

The battle between these 2 scrum-halves could have a huge bearing on how things swing for both sides. Williams, who is a bit more experienced than Mitchell, is playing with a rookie flyhalf in Ioan Lloyd. Mitchell has the experience of George Ford to ease things for him. It balances out beautifully, but one scrumhalf will have to have the edge to inspire a win.

Ireland v Italy: Inside Centre Titans

If Tommaso Menoncello’s try on his 6 Nations debut that made him the youngest try scorer in the history of the competition was his knock at the door of stardom in rugby, then his performance against England last saw him bang down that door. The 21-year-old was outstanding against England.

He was of course up against debutant Fraser Dingwall last week, the stakes are much higher this week as he takes on the pre-eminent inside centre in the game right now in Bundee Aki. It will be a much tougher assignment for the Italian youngster.

The Irish centre showed last week that he will continue on the same trajectory as last year when he produced another world-class performance against France. Aki is at the peak of his powers, but he faces a supreme talent in Menoncello this week.

More in Rugby