20 February 2020, by: Quintin van Jaarsveld
Six Nations Predictions – Round 3
The stakes have been raised going into the third round of the Six Nations this weekend, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.
Will log leaders France’s fairytale run continue when they take on Wales in Cardiff and can under-fire England rise to the occasion in their must-win clash with impressive Ireland at Twickenham?
After the teams have had an opportunity to reflect and recoup during last week’s bye, Italy and Scotland kick-off Round Three in Rome.
This is how we see things playing out:Scotland (0.30) are due a win after pushing both Ireland (19-12) and England close (13-6). They would’ve been particularly gutted by how they literally let a golden opportunity slip in atrocious conditions at Murrayfield to hand the English what proved to be the decisive try.
Gregor Townsend is a coach under pressure after failing to reach the quarter-finals of the 2019 World Cup and a third straight defeat to start 2020 – against Six Nations whipping boys Italy – would be catastrophic. The break would’ve done them more wonders than any other side after the bruising battles against two top contenders and they’ll be determined to snap their losing streak.
Italy (2.75) showed character in the 35-22 loss to France after rolling over in the embarrassing 42-0 shutout against Wales in the opening round. Scotland always represent the Azzurri’s best chance of victory in the Six Nations. Their last tournament win came against the Scots back in 2015, when they edged them 22-19 in Edinburgh, and the moments of success they had against Les Bleus will boost their belief of breaking their drought.
At the end of the day, Italy’s defence and discipline simply won’t hold up and Scotland should leave Rome with a rather comfortable and much-needed win.Prediction: Scotland by 12.
Total points scored: 56.
Suggested BET: Scotland -7.5 at 0.90
BET: SIX NATIONSLes Bleus (2.00), by nature, are an erratic bunch. Consistency is a foreign concept to them, but they’ve produced inspired performances back-to-back to upset pre-tournament favourites England and dispatch Italy. Can they keep it up against a wounded Welsh side coming off a disappointing defeat to Ireland in Dublin? The odds say no, with Wales rather surprisingly instilled as the favourites.
Ironically, it’s the Welsh (0.45) who are the unpredictable ones heading into this key clash. Not tactically. France will know what to expect from the defending champions – a forwards-driven, set-piece-centred tactical challenge fuelled by thousands of passionate Welsh supporters.
Rather, there was a sense that Wales might’ve been undercooked going into the Irish game after their annihilation of a shockingly poor Azzurri, and that they outclassed by Ireland proved those suspicions to be correct. Have they warmed up sufficiently to fell the French?
France are reinvigorated under new coach Fabien Galthie and are set to welcome back hooker Camille Chat, centre Virimi Vakatawa and wing Damian Penaud, but they don’t have the element of surprise they had to upset England and for that reason, we believe Wales will hand them their first loss in a hard-fought battle.Prediction: Wales by 5.
Total points scored: 31.
Suggested BET: Wales to win at -0.40
BET: SIX NATIONSIreland (2.55) as underdogs are really attractive. Yes, it’s at Twickenham, but there are more than enough reasons to suggest Irish eyes could be smiling come the final whistle. England (0.35) are vulnerable. Ireland are dominant. Andy Farrell’s men smashed Wales, the 24-14 win much more dominant than the scoreline indicates, to ramp things up after their 19-12 first-round win over Scotland. Eddie Jones’ charges, meanwhile, barely snuck past Scotland, needing a gift late try to stay alive in the competition following the loss to France in Paris.
England are disrupted. Both prop Mako Vunipola and wing Anthony Watson have been ruled out through injury, while at the time of writing, it remained unclear whether centre Manu Tuilagi would win a race against time after missing the Scotland showdown with a groin injury. Ireland? They’re at full-strength.
This is a colossal clash for the future of England rugby. Just a few short months after guiding the English to the World Cup final, beating the All Blacks in the process, many pundits believe it’s the end of the Jones’ era. I disagree. The pillars on which their World Cup run was built are still in place. The players, the game plan…they’re there.
Their challenge is a mental one. It’s clear they’re in their own heads. They’re seemingly crippled by a fear of failure. There’s self-doubt where confidence should be. Three factors could get them out of that slump this weekend. England are a different animal at Twickenham, and this is their first game at their fortress this year.
Secondly, nothing fuels England’s fire more than a clash against their bitter rivals and finally, the do-or-die nature of the Test could make them the hungrier of the two sides. Ireland, of course, won’t lack motivation as they have designs on a Grand Slam and Triple Crown, but a loss won’t spell the end of their title hopes, so the English might want it just a little bit more.
I suspect England will dig down deep to eke out a razor-thin win, but I’ll be putting a few bucks on the Irish to win by a single score.Prediction: England by 2.
Total points scored: 44.
Suggested BET: England to win by 1-7 points at 2.65