After a thrilling and arguably nail-biting opening round of Six Nations fixtures, we’re into Week 2. England will be smarting from their shock defeat to Scotland, while France will be hoping to kick on after a thumping 50-10 victory over Italy last Saturday. Wales needed to show some grit to overcome a determined 14-man Ireland. Expect more twists and turns this week.
Ireland v France is the standout game, but Scotland v Wales has the makings of a classic. We’ll preview both of these games as well as England v Italy and provide the latest odds and injury news.
As mentioned, Ireland v France could be a great game for neutrals. Ireland looked to have some semblance of control on Sunday when Tadhg Beirne crossed over for a try to give the visitors a 13-6 lead at the Principality Stadium. However, once Peter O’Mahony had been given his marching orders, it was always going to be a tall order to resist the Welsh. France, meanwhile, laid down the gauntlet with a coruscating display against the Italians as Fabien Galthie’s men ran in seven tries. They are strong contenders for the Grand Slam.
Ireland v France: Pick of odds for Six Nations clash
- Ireland to beat France @13/10 with Casumo
- France to beat Ireland @3/5 with Casumo
- Ireland handicap +2.5 @19/20 with Casumo
While France were the dark horses in the Six Nations campaign last year, they’re desperate to go one better than second place this time around. Against Italy, they were ruthless. Dupont was the chief tormentor as he produced a masterclass in scrum-half play. From an Irish perspective, Andy Farrell’s men produced a valiant second-half display, but having been reduced to 14 men just 14 minutes in made things a lot tougher. However, Ireland boasts an excellent record against Les Bleus. They haven’t lost at home to France for 10 years, and they’ll be hoping to extend that sequence.
Although Ireland didn’t start the tournament in the way they would have hoped, flanker Josh van der Flier – who has 23 Test caps to his name – admits that he felt a sense of ‘pride’ despite the defeat to Wales. When asked for his thoughts after the loss, he said: “I think tremendous pride to have represented the jersey in the circumstances as well, as a team. Pride in that, but obviously overwhelming disappointment.”
Scotland v Wales: Tale of the tape and injury news
Scotland v Wales will be an intriguing encounter at Murrayfield. The wind will be in the sails of the Scots after a composed and mature performance last weekend against England, in which they clinched an 11-6 victory – their first at Twickenham for 38 years. Gregor Townsend’s men are currying favour with Casumo as they are 13/25 to record back-to-back wins in the Six Nations. Last year, Scotland ended a wretched run of results against Wales on their travels when they won for the first time on the road against the Welsh in 18 years.
While Scotland have no fresh injuries to report, it’s not the same story for Wales. Five of Wayne Pivac’s players sustained injuries in the defeat to Ireland. Johnny Williams and Hallam Amos failed their HIAs, and Tomos Williams and Dan Lydiate sustained hamstring and knee injuries respectively. All four are expected to be ruled out against Scotland. George North – who had his eye scratched – will be monitored and Wales will be hoping he’s fit to play.
England v Italy: Eddie Jones’ men desperate to ‘atone’
For England, there will have been an inquest held after the defeat to Scotland. After lifting the Six Nations trophy last year, England were pedestrian against the auld enemy. They had just 35% possession overall and conceded 15 penalties to Scotland’s six… England head coach Eddie Jones couldn’t hide his feelings after the defeat. He said: “You can never atone for a game like this, it stays with you for a long time.” However, Italy are usually perceived as the whipping boys and Casumo have nevertheless placed a -38.5 handicap on England at 10/11.