Six Nations Round Four Preview
The 2013 Six Nations enters its penultimate round of action this weekend, and once again there are fascinating matches at both ends of the table. Wales travel to Scotland who are enjoying resurgence under Scott Johnson and are looking to take second spot in the table. The surprise strugglers France face Ireland in Dublin, with Les Bleus still searching for their first victory. While England should have no problems dispatching Italy to keep hopes of a first Grand Slam in ten years well and truly alive.
Scotland v Wales – Saturday (2.30pm)
Scotland have been the surprise package of the 2013 Six Nations, they entered the tournament low on confidence and on the back of an embarrassing defeat to Tonga. But interim-coach Scott Johnson has managed to get the best out his squad, and they sit third in the table after their miraculous win over Ireland last time out. Wales started the tournament with defeat at home to Ireland but have since picked up wins against Italy and France; there are signs that Rob Howley’s side are starting to find their form again.
Wales enter the match as odds on favourites and are priced at 1/2 (Ladbrokes), but are as short as 4/9 Bet365. Scotland are a best price of 9/4 (SportingBet) and this looks a very attractive bet in what should be a tight affair, and if the hosts can still be within touch going into the final 20 minutes they could snatch the win just as they did against Ireland. Scotland are also well handicapped with a +5 start priced at evens (Bet365).
Another attractive bet is on the half time/full time market with Wales/Scotland a massive 10/1 (SkyBet). On the try-scorer markets there are plenty of options on both sides, Stuart Hogg has served us well so far this year and is again worth backing to score anytime at 11/2 (SkyBet). Welsh full-back Leigh Halfpenny scored in this fixture last season and provides good value 14/1 (Stan James) to score the first try.
Ireland v France – Saturday (5.00pm)
France have been the biggest disappointment of this year’s Six Nations and have failed to register a win in their first three matches, but they do have a fantastic record against Ireland and showed signs of promise in defeat to England. Ireland are probably still in a state of shock after their defeat to Scotland, they dominated every facet of the match but were unable to finish off the chances they created.
France are rightly favourites for the match at a best price of 10/11 (BlueSq) their pack I monstrous and should win the arm wrestle at the breakdown. Ireland aren’t too far behind in the market and are priced at 11/10 (Paddy Power), but with an inexperienced fly-half and key players missing it is tough to see them overcoming Les Bleus.
The half time/full time market has thrown up another good priced bet with the Draw/France priced at 25/1 (SkyBet). Irish centre Luke Marshall may be lacking in experience but showed some flashes of quality against Scotland, and looks a nice price at 20/1 (Ladbrokes) to score the first try. Wesley Fofana showed just how good he is with an outstanding solo try against England, and provides tremendous value at 4/1 (SkyBet) to score anytime.
England v Italy – Sunday (3.00pm)
England suffered a difficult opening 40 minutes against France two weeks ago, but the power of their bench made the difference in the second half and they ended up as comfortable winners. Italy started the tournament with a historic victory over France, but have failed to match that level of performance since and will be dreading facing an England side full of confidence.
As expected England are overwhelming favourites and are as short as 1/250 (SkyBet). Italy are a massive 40/1 (SportingBet) and there is little chance they can cause the biggest of upsets on Sunday.
Given England’s current form and their past form at Twickenham against the Azzuri, over 5.5 tries at 5/4 (BlueSq) looks a solid bet. On the try scoring markets it is difficult to look past Manu Tuilagi for first scorer at 8/1 (Coral) and is also worth backing to score anytime at evens (Coral). Elsewhere for England scrum-half Danny Care is 7/4 (Paddy Power) to score anytime, and an interesting selection is Tom Croft to score anytime which is a massive 11/1 (Coral). The Leicester flanker returns to squad for the first time in 11 months, and entering the final quarter his pace and power could be utilized against a tiring defence and his try scoring record makes him an attractive bet.
Weekend Best Bets
Scotland to win – 9/4 (SportingBet)
Stuart Hogg anytime scorer – 11/2 (SkyBet)
Wesley Fofana anytime scorer – 4/1 (SkyBet)
Draw/France – 25/1 (SkyBet)
Manu Tuilagi 1st try – 8/1 (Coral)
Tom Croft anytime scorer – 11/1 (Coral)