Unibet ambassador and former Scotland captain Gavin Hastings makes his betting predictions ahead of the penultimate Six Nations weekend...
Ireland 1.02 vs Italy 14.00 - Saturday 14.30
Ireland are going to win this game, that’s for sure, but it won’t necessarily be as easy as the home fans would like to think.
Italy are a good side. No doubt they’ll be smarting after losing such a close game against Scotland last time out, so I expect they'll be very competitive.
Of course Ireland lost a tight one at Twickenham, too, and they’ll be desperate to bounce back in Dublin where the atmosphere that the Irish fans generate is very strong. The Irish are a very experienced, classy side and they tend to respond to that support.
Having said that, the +22.5 handicap seems generous for Italy. Ireland are going to win, but three converted tries is a huge difference, so I would back Italy at those odds.
Best bet: Back Italy +22.5 points at 1.90
Scotland 3.70 vs France 1.28 – Saturday 17.00 GMT
This is a big one for Scotland, and I’ll be there!
The Scots can take great confidence from the last gasp victory in Rome two weeks ago, and I give them huge credit for it.
When you’re staring down the barrel of defeat it is so hard, but everything they did in the build-up to Duncan Weir’s drop goal was very, very good. In a funny way it was reminiscent of England and ‘Our Jonny’ when they won the World Cup in 2003. I’m not suggesting that these games can be compared, but all credit to Weir for producing the goods.
I think they’ve picked their strongest side of the Six Nations so far to face France on Saturday.
The Kelly Brown situation has been very strange, but it seems to be behind them now and I’m glad he’ll be playing.
Maybe it’s a question of Scott Johnson keeping his players on their toes, and I guess he knows them better than I do. I’m sure Kelly will now come in and have a storming game and prove to everybody that he should never have been dropped in the first place.
It’ll be a close one, but I’d back the Scots with +8.5 points as I’m not giving up on them yet. The French have had injury and disciplinary problems, and they got hammered by Wales. It should be an interesting game.
Best bet: Back Scotland +8.5 points at 1.85
England 1.47 vs Wales 2.70 – Sunday 15.00
I think England have got a lot to prove, but it was the same story a fortnight ago against Ireland when I thought they played very well.
Before the game I said that if the England forwards could snuff out the Ireland forwards and not let them be as dominant as they had been then I would expect England to win, and so it proved.
They’ve now got to do exactly the same to Wales, who lifted their game massively against France and on their day they look very good indeed. But England have the ability to snuff them out and limit their attacking options – to stop the George Norths and the Leigh Halfpennys of this world will be key.
I think it’s going to be very close, but I maintain that England are a good side and they have a rugged set of forwards which can cause problems for any international pack that they play against.
I’m not going to change my opinion, and of course this time England have the added incentive of the Triple Crown.
Wales got rumbled by Ireland earlier in the championship, it was a bad day at the office for them. But they’ll think they can come to Twickenham and win, and if they do that then they are at home to Scotland in their last match for the chance to win a third championship in a row.
They’ll be encouraged from their display against France, and they’ll also remember their game against England last year fondly when they delivered a real hammering.
But as there will be a lot of talk about that game prior to Sunday, I’ll expect England to come out really strong and look to prove a point.
I think it’ll be a mightily close game, but I’m expecting England just to edge it, with three points or less being the margin of victory and defeat.
I’d take Wales on the handicap of +5.5, with England to win the match, a result which would go a long way towards clinching the championship for them considering that they play Italy last.
I think they are worthy favourites for the championship and would back them at 2.35.
Best bet: Back Wales +5.5 points at 1.90