Ireland 1.04 v Italy 14.00 – Saturday 13.30 GMT
Well isn’t it nice to see two teams below Scotland in the Six Nations table?!
I actually feel a bit sorry for the Irish. The fixture list hasn’t helped them this year, with their matches against Italy and Scotland coming at the end of the championship.
They will be expected to win their last two games, but Italy will also have a sense that they can get off the bottom here.
They have played well in parts, but they haven’t got what they deserved. With a difficult game in Wales to come they’ll be keen and targeting this one for their first victory, but they might well be disappointed.
Ireland, getting back to the Aviva in Dublin after a couple of disappointing away games, will be desperate to perform well in front of their own supporters.
I think this might be pretty close, and Italy can get into game, maybe nicking a try or a couple of penalties. They believe in themselves, and they won’t go away.
England only pulled away from them in the final 15-20 minutes and before that they were very competitive, whilst they also played well against France.
Italy have a lot to play for. It’ll be a close game, and maybe Ireland will take it but only by a small margin, seven points or so.
Ireland to win by 1-10 points – 6.10
England 1.45 v Wales 2.75 – Saturday 16.00 GMT
What a big game this is!
England coach Eddie Jones has been in the headlines saying that Wales cheat in the scrum, and I think that is hugely significant.
He wants to make sure his players are being refereed fairly, and he is a shrewd man, a clever guy, but then so is Warren Gatland. Jones has been putting pressure on the referee in the hope that his team will avoid penalties, but that might not be enough.
This game is much bigger for England than it is for Wales. The expectancy in England is that the poor World Cup was a blip, and with Jones at helm, a slightly changed team, and a chance of Grand Slam, things are going to change for them. But this is a tough two weeks.
I think England have been lucky so far.
Scotland weren’t up to much when they played them, they eventually played pretty well against Italy and they were just okay against Ireland, who weren’t great. There’s no doubt that last two games will be a much closer reflection of where England stand in grand scheme of things.
After their win there in the World Cup, Wales know that they can go to Twickenham and perform well. Gatland will be reminding them of that, and you have to say that Wales are just going to come down the M4 and knock the hell out of England!
You know what you’re going to get with them. They’re tough, uncompromising and brutal, and the question is whether England can match that.
It’s going to be close, mightily close, and if you’re having a bet then the odds for a draw look pretty good.
I can see it happening.
Draw – 17.00
Scotland 1.80 v France 2.00 – Sunday 15.00 GMT
This game could be close too, but I don’t care if it’s close as long as Scotland win!
We could take a lot of positives from the Italian game, and given that it is 10 years since Scotland beat France it is definitely time to get one over on them. We’ve got to go out, keep fighting for every scrap of possession, and take every opportunity to put the French under pressure.
I’m not that convinced Fra are bothered about this match, as they’ll have one eye on next week and the England game. We need to just get stuck in to them and cause them some surprises.
I’m backing Scotland, who will be looking forward to getting back to Murrayfield. We’ve just got to keep our fingers crossed we can get on right side of scoreboard.
There have been an awful lot of close games in this championship. Scotland only just lost their matches to England and Wales by a combined 10 points.
A lot of games are very close nowadays, and so home advantage has to be just that, an advantage.
If we use the power of Murrayfield we’re good enough to get a win, then we can go to Dublin next week with our heads held high.
Scotland to win – 1.80