Gavin Hastings' Exclusive Six Nations Tips - Week Two: England Can't Win The Grand Slam But Will Edge Italy


 France 1.83 v Ireland 1.98 – Saturday 14:25 GMT

The French will just be happy they got through last week’s game and will be delighted this game is in Paris.

At the end of the day there are only two teams capable of winning the Grand Slam and France are one of those. It doesn’t really matter how you play, if you pull through and win the game, at the end of the day the record books show a victory.  However, they know they have to produce a much better performance here.

They will be up against it as the Parisian crowd are a fickle bunch and I’m sure Ireland will take plenty of supporters and have a really good go.

Virimi Vakatawa is a massive bloke and the winger was impressive last week. Nevertheless, if France don’t win the ball he can’t affect the game.  Ireland are a cagey side and they will have worked on a lot of things this week.

Ireland will be disappointed in having let a 13 point lead slip last weekend. The draw obviously isn’t as bad as a loss and they will attack this match with a positive attitude.

The visitors will give France a close game but I am going to go for a very narrow France victory by just a couple of points.

France to win - 1.83

 

Wales 1.18 v Scotland 5.00 – Saturday 16:50 GMT

There was a lot of hype ahead of the Six Nations about whether Scotland could maintain their performances from the World Cup -the answer was clearly that they could not.

Unfortunately, we got bullied and harried by the English and were beaten up front. While England were not very expansive and were pretty boring, they got the result after just a couple of weeks working with Eddie Jones.

Scotland must play a lot better against Wales to have any chance of winning the game.

Over the years Scotland have played a lot of games in the Six Nations where they have lost by less than seven points and that was another. The players regularly fail to take their opportunities, they had chances to score but they went begging.

We do not have that killer instinct. Those are chances you would expect Ireland and Wales, and to a lesser extent, England to take but Scotland seem singularly incapable of scoring from these opportunities, which is hugely disappointing.

Dan Biggar is miraculously back from a 3-5 week lay-off in 3-5 days and he has become massively important to Wales.

I thought Rhys Priestland kicked well when he came on against Ireland. I watched him for Bath a week or two before and he missed some easy ones but Biggar is the first choice 10.

Wales would not risk Biggar if he wasn’t fit and it is a huge positive for them that he starts.

I don’t give Scotland any real chance of winning here. However, that is when Scotland are at their best. We aren’t a great side but we aren’t a poor one and we need to find a way to win tight games.

At some stage we have to win a game. I would love it to be Saturday but I cannot see it and I expect Wales to win by a margin of seven.

Wales -7 to win 1.50

 

Italy 11.00 v England 1.06 – Sunday 14:00 GMT

For all the talk of Eddie Jones changing things, I don’t think there is a new-look England to be honest. It’s the same players who played in the World Cup.

I thought Jack Nowell was good and the pick of the backs against Scotland but I am not convinced by the Farrell/Ford combination. I don’t think it works. There is not enough penetration and they played a limited gameplan.

England won because their forwards outclassed Scotland by concentrating on driving, line-out maul and whatever else. They kicked their penalties and Scotland couldn’t play catch-up rugby.

I don’t think England have moved on and I didn’t really expect them to.

They aren’t capable of winning the Grand Slam, if I’m being honest. I’m not convinced they can win five games on the trot and I may have to eat my words if that’s the case.

They will have to play well to beat Italy and they have had a few close games in recent seasons.

The Italians showed last week if England aren’t at their best they will be dangerous. If it wasn’t for a terrible decision at the death they were good enough to beat France.

Italy will be full of confidence but I think this will be a close win for England and they will be the only away victors of the weekend.  

Italy +12 to win - 2.55