Autumn Nations Cup: England to seal top spot with Wales victory

England forward Maro Itoje
England have won their opening two matches in the competition

Simon Mail has bets for the third weekend of the Autumn Nations Cup and is backing England to clinch top spot in their group with a win in Wales...

"It is difficult to bet against England with their current form in complete contrast to a Wales team shorn of confidence. England come into the match off the back of six successive wins and head to Llanelli with momentum as one of the best teams in the world."

England to continue winning start

Wales v England
Saturday, 16:00
Live on Amazon Prime Video

England took control of their Autumn Nations Cup group after a dominant 18-7 win against Ireland at Twickenham. Eddie Jones' side only need to avoid defeat in Wales to guarantee topping the pool and the Six Nations champions are heavy favourites to accomplish this. Jonny May scored twice, including a stunning solo effort, to clinch last weekend's win over Ireland. England's exceptional defence afforded their opponents few opportunities as they made 246 tackles against Ireland.

Fly-half George Ford returns to the England team for the match with Owen Farrell reverting to inside centre. Henry Slade completes the midfield with Ollie Lawrence dropping out due to his hip injury. England's forward pack is unchanged from the Ireland game but Jack Willis is recalled to the squad as he starts on the bench.

Pivac under pressure after poor run

Wales produced a miserable Six Nations title defence, with Wayne Pivac's first campaign ending in fifth place with four defeats. The pressure has grown on Pivac after a run of six successive defeats. This was halted last weekend but their 18-0 win against Georgia was hardly convincing. Wales have yet to fire under their new coach with the team looking a long way off the side which reached the World Cup semi-final last year in Warren Gatland's final act. Scrum-half Lloyd Williams makes his first start for four years and lines up alongside fly-half Dan Biggar.

England won the most recent clash between the teams after a thrilling 33-30 win at Twickenham back in March. It was their second victory in the last three meetings between them.

It is difficult to bet against England with their current form in complete contrast to a Wales team shorn of confidence. England come into the match off the back of six successive wins and head to Llanelli with momentum as one of the best teams in the world. Wales will look to make this a battle of attrition but are likely to fall short. The handicap mark is set at 16 points but this may be closer than expected. Three of England's last four wins over Wales have been by less than 12 points and a narrow away win is recommended at generous odds.

ireland wales.jpg

Ireland to hit back with big win

Ireland v Georgia
Sunday, 14:00
Live on Channel 4

Ireland had no answer to England at Twickenham but will be expected to respond with a convincing win at home to Georgia. Andy Farrell's side were unable to break down their opponents and could only manage a try from Jacob Stockdale in the second half of their 18-7 defeat. Ulster fly-half Billy Burns makes his first start for Ireland with Conor Murray recalled at scrum-half.

Georgia have opened up with defeats in their two Autumn Nations Cup matches. Their 40-0 defeat to England was a tough workout although they were more competitive last weekend in their 18-0 loss to Wales. Georgia rely on their strength in the forwards but have struggled to create attacking opportunities during this competition.

Ireland are deemed certainties to win this weekend but the handicap mark of 35 points looks in the balance. In three of their four previous games against Georgia, Ireland have covered this margin but Georgia may prove more obdurate opponents this time. Stockdale has rediscovered his scoring touch recently and in his new full-back role has scored a try in his last two matches against France and England. There should be plenty of chances against Georgia and Stockdale is backed to cross the line again in a comfortable Ireland win.

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France to prove too strong

France v Italy
Saturday, 20:10
Live on Amazon Prime Video

France are on course to top their pool after Falbien Galthie's team earned a 22-15 win over Scotland at Murrayfield last weekend. Virimi Vakatawa scored for France as they kept on course for a probable decider against England next week. Teddy Thomas and fly-half Matthieu Jalibert are the only players to keep their place in the team from the Scotland win as Galthie makes wholesale changes.

Italy produced an encouraging performance against Scotland this month but were unable to hold onto their lead as they were beaten 28-17 in Florence. It was an improved showing from their disappointing results in the Six Nations, where they again propped up the table, but the wait for a win continued for Franco Smith's Italy.

France are strong favourites to win this weekend, despite significant changes to their side, with Galthie's improving team expected to be too strong for Italy. In the Six Nations, France did not have it all their own way as they won 35-22 at the Stade de France. Three of their last four wins over Italy have been by between 11 and 20 points and this looks worth backing at 13/5.

Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster

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