6 Nations: Wales vs Italy (Sat, 14.30), Ireland vs Scotland (Sat, 17.00), France vs England (Sun, 15.00)
After stumbling around like Roger Johnson on the training ground with my last set of 6 Nations predictions, I’ve dusted myself down and got back in the saddle to have a crack at this weekend’s fixtures. (If you can’t indulge in a convoluted mixed metaphor in a betting blog, then where can you!)
With the Irish having held the French in last weekend’s rearranged fixture, Wales are now the only side eyeing the Grand Slam and Saturday’s visit of the Italians to the Millennium Stadium shouldn’t prove too much of an obstacle.
Nevertheless, Sporting Index’s supremacy spread of 21-24 looks to give Wales full credit and I’m not sure there’s much room for a buy. Indeed, it might be worth a cheeky sell, in the hope that the Azzurri set off like Berlusconi at a Bunga Bunga party and you can trade out before things get too sticky.
Wales/Italy games in Cardiff tend to be free scoring affairs (2010, 47-16; 2008, 47-8; 2006, 18-18) but the total points spread of 45-48 is high enough not to be an especially attractive buy. A tempting market could well be the shirt supremacy (a wholly less volatile affair in rugby than soccer as show-offs and squad players with ridiculous numbers aren’t a factor): Sporting Index go 33-37 Wales over Italy, and with the Taffs’ major try threats, Halfpenny and Davies, wearing the high numbers, this could be worth a go.
Over in Dublin, the dour Scots, enjoying something of a try bonanza by their standards (3 in 3 matches), visit an Irish side who’ve managed three times as many (that’s 9 for those of you who struggled in maths). However, five of those touchdowns came against the Italians and, taking into consideration Scotland’s bullish defense, I’d recommend a hefty sell of total match tries (3.6-4.1).
Interestingly, SpIn make France significant favourites over England for Sunday’s match in Paris (6-9). This seems a little harsh on Lancaster’s men, who battled valiantly against the Welsh and, but for the bounce of a ball or the indecision of the television ref, might have been unbeaten in the tournament. Given the fact that the French were at their Gallic worst against Ireland in the first half and are playing a back-to-back fixture, why not go short on the French?