Rugby Union Betting: Gavin Hastings's Week 2 Six Nations Preview


Ahead of what could be a pivotal weekend in the race for the 2014 Six Nations title, Unibet Armchair Expert Gavin Hastings looks ahead to a trio of mouthwatering matches...


Ireland vs Wales (starts on Saturday at 14.30 GMT)

It was an impressive opening performance from Ireland last weekend. They defended very well in the first half against the Scots, and were ruthless in the second. It was a comprehensive victory, which no doubt sent out a message to everybody else, including their opponents this Saturday.

Wales looked comfortable in the early stages against Italy last time out, but got a little too caught up in the game and were probably too ambitious in the second half. Italy are no mugs; they’re a competitive side, and Wales were made to work for their victory.

Both Ireland and Wales are exciting teams to watch and this has all the makings of a fantastic match-up on Saturday.

On this occasion, home advantage will be key for the Irish. It will give them plenty of confidence going into the game and, if they can defend as well as they have until now, they have a great chance, even against the formidable tournament favourites.

It will get mentioned often that it’s a grudge match given that Wales coach Warren Gatland dropped Ireland's Brian O’Driscoll during last summer's Lions Tour. Personally, I think this game should have nothing to do with that, but it will undoubtedly get dragged up in the run-up to the game.

Regardless, what we'll see is two streetwise teams, with plenty of experience running through their spines. 

Ireland are capable of a strong run in this championship, and I think they'll dispense with Wales here.  

Gavin's top tip: Back Ireland to win outright at 1.76

 


Scotland vs England (starts on Saturday at 17.00 GMT)

England will still be gutted they were trumped by France last weekend – but that won’t make Scotland’s task any easier on Saturday evening.

The weather is set to be awful, but the atmosphere for this game - under the Murrayfield floodlights - will be electric. Scotland vs England games always have a great sense of occasion, and I'm really looking forward to this one.

Scotland attacked with a lot of purpose and skill against Ireland last week but just could not break down the Irish defence. I have some difficulty, too, in seeing how they’ll break down the England defence on Saturday.

Their best chance is to hope that England don’t score many tries and maybe edge it with some kicking. I know what the pitch at Murrayfield is like so I’m predicting a low-scoring game, perhaps withonly a single try scored.

If Scotland limit England to only one try, it gives them a huge chance of upsetting the applecart. Don't count them out, here, especially on the generous handicap. 

Gavin's top tip: Back Scotland on the +9.5 handicap.


France vs Italy (starts on Sunday at 15.00 GMT)

France will be boosted by their narrow win over England last weekend, but I don’t see them running away with this game against Italy, who beat them in an extraordinary match last year.

People are fast to write off the Italians, but I wouldn’t be so dismissive. They are dogged opponents and I do not foresee a landslide victory for the French – even in front of their home fans in Paris.

I’m not convinced by France, who were lucky to beat England. They were second best for long periods and will have to work hard to beat Italy on Sunday.

I’d be tempted to back Italy, who should give a good account of themselves. But again it's the handicap that provides the best betting option here.

Gavin's top tip: Back Italy on the +18.5 handicap at 1.85.

 

Rugby Union legend Gavin Hastings has a 100% record on his top tips after last weekend's Six Nations - see his previous Unibet columns here.