Six Nations Matchday Two Preview & Tips7 min read
Ireland v Wales
Ireland to win by 1-7 points margin
Josh Adams to score a try
Two teams with contrasting wins on the opening weekend of the Six Nations face each other on Saturday with Ireland hosting Wales at the Aviva Stadium.
Ireland produced a scrappy performance and were reliant on their defence to hold off Scotland in an unconvincing 19-12 victory. Andy Farrell’s first match in charge was anything but a classic although captain Johnny Sexton scored all their points to underline his importance to the team.
Farrell has resisted the urge to make significant changes with centre Robbie Henshaw and flanker Peter O’Mahony replacing the injured Garry Ringrose and Caelan Doris.
Six Nations Grand Slam champions Wales were much more impressive during their 42-0 home win against Italy. Josh Adams continued his stunning scoring streak with a hat-trick. The wing has scored ten tries in his last eight internationals and looks generously priced at 7/4 to cross the line this weekend.
Wayne Pivac was understandably pleased with his first match in charge in the tournament but knows it will be significantly tougher in Dublin.
Ireland have won the last two games against Wales, both in World Cup warm-ups last summer, although were well-beaten in Cardiff in the final game of last season’s Six Nations.
This should be a tight encounter but home advantage could tip the balance marginally in Ireland’s favour. The hosts are four-point handicap favourites but the best bet could be to back them to edge this by no more than seven points at 9/4.
Scotland v England
Scotland +4 first half handicap
England’s Six Nations title bid is already in jeopardy after Eddie Jones’ side were outplayed in their 24-17 defeat in France. A response is required in the Calcutta Cup clash against Scotland on Saturday evening but England could be vulnerable again.
The World Cup finalists appeared to suffer a hangover in Paris with a dismal first half seeing them trail 17-0. Jonny May scored twice to help England leave with a bonus point but their ragged performance did not bear the hallmark of champions.
Jones has reacted by making five changes to the team with scrum-half Ben Youngs dropped and Willi Heinz promoted. With centre Manu Tuilagi ruled out due to a groin injury, Jonathan Joseph replaces him in the backline.
Scotland started the competition with a defeat but their performance in Ireland could have resulted in a positive outcome if they had taken their try-scoring opportunities.
Gregor Townsend will have taken encouragement from the display and has opted to make just one change with forward Magnus Bradbury replacing Nick Haining. Fly-half Adam Hastings continues with Finn Russell not considered following his disciplinary breach.
England are 8/15 for victory at Murrayfield but have won only three of their last seven clashes in Scotland. The hosts are unbeaten in the last two meetings with last season’s thrilling 38-38 draw at Twickenham following on from a 25-13 win in 2018.
Whether Scotland can produce an 80-minute performance and win at 7/4 is questionable but the outsiders merit support in the handicap market. Scotland can pose England problems and should keep it close with a four-point first-half handicap worth taking.
France v Italy
France to win -25 handicap
France made a strong statement with their impressive win against England in Paris and should back this up with a comfortable win over Italy on Sunday.
Fabien Galthie’s first match in charge went almost perfectly as the hosts raced into an early lead. Two tries from captain Charles Ollivon set them on their way and hinted at a bright future for this young team.
Italy, on the other hand, had precious little to be happy about after slumping to a heavy defeat at champions Wales.
Interim coach Franco Smith faces a huge challenge to lift the team’s fortunes with Italy on a miserable run of 23 successive defeats in the Six Nations.
France, who have won their last eight games against Italy, are overwhelming favourites and it looks a case of predicting the margin of victory.
The handicap mark is set at 25 points and the hosts look capable of covering this in a one-sided win.
There is so much attacking flair in the France team and with Shaun Edwards tightening up the defence, it looks worth backing the home side to breeze to another win.