Six Nations Round 5 Preview: Ireland Still Have Much to Prove in Final Round5 min read
The winner may be decided but there’s still a tonne of excitement left in the 2018 Six Nations. Ireland travel to Twickenham looking to complete a grand slam, but can they overcome an England side out for revenge after having grand slam hopes of their own dashed in Dublin last year? Can Scotland crack the top three for the first time in five years?
Below is a breakdown of every game of the final weekend’s super Saturday, with tips for all the best action as Europe’s finest rugby closes another chapter in it’s great history.
Italy vs Scotland
Sat 17th Mar: 12.30pm ITV1
Italy might only be playing for pride in this one, but Scotland certainly won’t be. With a win and a little help from Ireland they would crack the top three of the tournament for the first time since 2013 and can start looking towards the 2019 World Cup on the right foot.
The matchup itself doesn’t inspire much confidence in this game being competitive, with Scotland entering as 17-point road favourites. However, Scotland are not a team who will blow anybody out of the water, so I feel comfortable taking Italy’s +17 point handicap here. Nevertheless, there is very little chance of Scotland throwing this one away completely.
Neither team has been consistent in defence this tournament so expect points early and often, but the real show kicks off at Twickenham once this game is over.
Italy +17 point handicap
Italy first team to score
England vs Ireland
Sat 17th Mar: 2.45pm ITV1
To cap off the 2017 Six Nations Ireland spoiled England’s back-to-back grand slam chances and snapped their record-equalling unbeaten run. Now it’s time for England to return the favour.
After losing two straight games you would be forgiven for thinking England’s aura under Eddie Jones is fading away, but October 2015 was the last time they lost at Twickenham and that means something to this side. They won’t give it up easily.
Ireland have built their success around a rock-solid defence and an ability to seize the moment when the opposition blinks. England will have to play mistake free for 80-minutes and might have to experiment more in attack than they have done to put points on the board. I believe with pride on the line they will do just that and can walk away victorious.
Ireland enter as very slight favourites, but this is as even a contest as there has been all tournament. It will come down to the wire.
England to win
England winning margin 1-5 points
Wales vs France
Sat 17th Mar 5.00pm BBC One
Both Wales and France can still finish the tournament as runners up which, particularly for France, would mark a huge turnaround from recent form.
However, as I said last week, travelling to Cardiff is not likely to end well for anyone right now and despite an impressive opening campaign for Jacques Brunel’s France this will not be the ending they are hoping for.
Wales are deserved 8-point favourites and I expect them to cover that easily, seeing out the 2018 campaign in style in front of their home fans.
Wales -8 point handicap
Half-time/Full-time – Wales/Wales