Six Nations Round 3 Preview: Can Wales ruin the party for Ireland?5 min read
A two-week break feels like a lifetime to be without international rugby in February but hallelujah, the Six Nations is back! France and Italy get the party started on Friday night before the headline matches get underway on Saturday. Anyone else feel an upset on the cards this week?
Below is a breakdown of every game, with tips for all the best action as Europe’s finest rugby tournament gets back underway.
France vs Italy
Fri 23rd Feb: 8.00pm BBC One
Italy have played two of the strongest teams in the tournament so far and – as expected – haven’t put up much of a fight. They’ve given up a point every two-minutes and don’t inspire much confidence going forward. 34-year-old Talisman Sergio Parisse can’t be expected to put this team on his back any longer, and this just doesn’t look to be a year with anything in the win column for the Italians.
France have been very competitive so far but have struggled to finish two close games; that shouldn’t be a problem this time around. However, the defensive struggles both these teams have faced should make for an entertaining game of rugby.
This is the one game that I think Italy won’t get blown out in. However – much like the first two games – the best bet here is on there being lots of points.
France to score first try
Italy +12.5 point handicap
Ireland vs Wales
Sat 24th Feb: 2.15pm ITV1
Ireland have passed their first two tests in dramatic style, but with Wales, Scotland, and England still on the cards, they will need to be flawless to walk away champions. They head to Cardiff healthy and full of confidence, but with Wales still reeling from a tough-to-swallow loss at Twickenham, must be ready for a fight.
TEAM NEWS 🏴 Wales welcome back @lionsofficial trio Dan Biggar, Leigh Halfpenny and Liam Williams for #IREvWAL. Croeso nol i Lewod Halfpenny, Williams a Biggar i wynebu Iwerddon dydd Sadwrn. pic.twitter.com/MDgRyrrmGM
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) February 20, 2018
Warren Gatland gets three British and Irish Lions back this time around in the form of Dan Biggar, Leigh Halfpenny, and Liam Williams. With fresh legs and something to prove, Wales could turn the tournament on its head this weekend.
Like most people, I’ve had Ireland vs England on the final weekend bookmarked as the tournament decider since the schedule came out. But I just can’t shake a feeling that the 9-point home underdogs ruin the Irish party.
Ireland were lucky to get out of Paris with a win but won’t be afforded the same room for error against an experienced side in Cardiff.
Wales to win
Wales winning margin 1-5 points
England vs Scotland
Sat 24th Feb: 4.45pm BBC One
Scotland’s winning line-up against France remains unchanged to take on defending champions England in the Calcutta Cup, though the Scots enter as 7-point home underdogs.
Scotland’s resurgence in recent years has been in part down to the shoring up of their defensive structure, though there has been a regression in that area to start 2018. They couldn’t stop Wales to save their lives, and France made it look easy at times last time out.
Eddie Jones will have inspected the strategy Wales employed to dominate Scotland closely and – though the Scottish side has changed – I think this could be a statement-making day in Edinburgh for England.
Look for England’s wingers to have a field day and for England to win big.
England winning margin 11-15 points
Scotland last team to score
France, Wales, England all to win