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Six Nations Betting: England poised to strengthen title hopes with France victory

Manu Tuilagi will provide a threat to France at Twickenham this weekend

"The last three Six Nations clashes at Twickenham have all gone England's way and it would take a bold leap of faith to back the French to halt this run."

Back England/England in the Half Time/Full Time market at 1.758/11

Simon Mail looks at all three games on the third weekend of the Six Nations with recommended bets in each and starting with the big clash at Twickenham on Friday evening...

The competition resumes after last weekend's break and all the expectations will be on England to strengthen their Grand Slam hopes with a win over the beleaguered French. Wales will be hoping to avoid an upset in Italy while Scotland will target consecutive wins when they entertain Ireland on Sunday.

England v France

Stuart Lancaster's side are strong favourites to win the title after victories in their opening two games. England have shown real variety to their game in producing a potent attacking display against Scotland, before winning the kicking battle in tough conditions over in Ireland. The form of Owen Farrell has caught the eye and the hosts will be expected to take advantage of a French side in a state of crisis.

France had high hopes coming into the tournament but they have made their worst ever start to a Six Nations campaign. Their shock defeat in Italy on the opening weekend was bad enough, but their limp loss at home to a Wales team short on confidence seemed even worse and has left them rooted to the foot of the table. Philippe Saint-Andre is under huge pressure to turn their fortunes around but the mercurial talents in the team are capable of pulling off a victory this weekend. 

England had the edge over France last season when Lancaster guided his team to a 24-22 win in Paris and this bodes well because of the improvements made by them over the last 12 months. The last three Six Nations clashes at Twickenham have all gone England's way and it would take a bold leap of faith to back the French to halt this run. Expect the home side to build on their momentum and take another step closer to the title.

Recommended Bet: Back England/England in the Half Time/Full Time market at 1.758/11

Italy v Wales

The Italians enjoyed the perfect start to the competition with their remarkable win over France at home but they failed to back this up as they were well beaten in Scotland. Italy do not seem to be able to put any consistency together, but are a very difficult team to beat in front of their own fans. The side have not lost by more than eight points at home for four years in the Six Nations and two scalps over the French demonstrate their capabilities. 

Wales did not play with any real fluency in France but did manage a priceless win which ended a run of eight consecutive defeats. Perhaps this will mark the turning point for last year's Grand Slam champions but I am not convinced. Interim coach Rob Howley knows this will be another potential banana skin for his side and they will not find it easy in Rome. 

The last five Six Nations encounters have all been won by Wales but Italy did manage to beat then at home back in 2007. The Italians are gradually improving and coach Jacques Brunel has set his side the target of two victories in the competition this year. Wales at home probably represents their best chance and they are worth supporting, in the handicap market, against fragile opposition.

Recommended Bet: Back Italy +6.5 points at 2.245/4 

Scotland v Ireland

Scotland produced a very encouraging win over Italy in their last outing which demonstrated their attacking prowess. Four tries took their tally to six from their two games which is the best in the competition. Interim coach Scott Johnson has already started to stamp his authority on the side and the pace and finishing of Stuart Hogg and Tim Visser can cause Ireland problems.

Declan Kidney's team started with a win in Wales but this was negated by their defeat to England. Injuries to key players such as Jonny Sexton and Simon Zebo were just as damaging as the result and could prove costly during the rest of the tournament. 

Recent history certainly favours the Irish with ten wins from their last 11 Six Nations meetings. But I think that current form and circumstances could provide the Scots with a rare win at a decent price. Scotland's attacking game will prove a real test for the Irish and the depleted visitors could easily come unstuck at Murrayfield.

Recommended Bet: Back Scotland to win at 2.447/5

Follow Simon on Twitter @watfordtipster

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23 February 2013

Six Nations


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