England were impressive in beating Ireland in Dublin last time out, and Will Greenwood sees nothing other than a comfortable win when they take on the French at Twickenham on Saturday...
England v France
17:00 Saturday February 23,
Live on BBC1
I mentioned after the Scotland game that, without wanting to get carried away, I felt that England had improved drastically over the last year and had the makings of a very strong team. The Ireland game further reinforced that, and we're now looking at a side that have such self-belief and confidence, it is almost tangible from the stands.
A finishing scoreline of 6-12 heavily flattered Ireland. There was no way they were going to ever win that rugby match.
England didn't buckle against Ireland in the face of strong pressure towards the end of the game, and we've now seen two sides to England; they've shown they can play expansive, fast, loose rugby and they've also proven themselves to be teak-tough. It makes for a promising combination ahead of a home encounter against a wounded France.
It's not so difficult to put one's finger on the reason France have started this Six Nations tournament so badly, but it's still a bit strange given that they looked like world-beaters in the autumn.
One thing that is obviously a factor is their physical size; they've concentrated on building themselves into individually such big units that they struggle aerobically with lasting 80 minutes of international rugby. They've also been playing players out of position - if we take Wesley Fofana for instance, we're talking about one of the world's best centres, so why has he been playing out on the wing? He's absolutely wasted out there and doesn't get nearly enough ball. I'd like to see Saint-Andre move him back into the centre where he can affect the game more and recreate the form he's shown in the Heineken Cup.
The overarching feeling about France is also that they don't currently seem to have any finesse to go along with their physical power, either. They concentrate way too much on bullying teams, and I can't see this working on England. England have already shown they can withstand that sort of assault against Ireland so won't be fazed by those sort of tactics.
But there's also much more to England than that. Not only are they capable of handling the French onslaught of physicality, but they have top-quality international rugby players from back to front - Owen Farrell was excellent in Dublin, Robshaw has the pack in fine working order, and the back three of Ashton, Goode and Brown have also looked a cut above the rest so far.
In short, I can't see this tournament getting any better for France at Twickenham. Stuart Lancaster and Chris Robshaw (whose odds to captain the Lions must be getting shorter and shorter) have the makings of a confident, ruthless, strong team on their hands and this will prove far too much for France.
Against a wounded, shattered Les Bleus, I expect England to win, and win well. The odds on a straight England win are short at 1.331/3, and given that I'm so convinced England will emerge easy winners here I think a handicap bet is the best way to go.