Italy v Wales
Saturday March 21, 12:30
Live on BBC One
It is all set for a gripping climax to this year's 6 Nations with three sides still holding realistic chances of winning the title. Wales are the outsiders of the trio because they need a big margin of victory to overcome their rivals' points difference advantage. But Warren Gatland's side at least have the opportunity to finish first which looked unlikely after the first weekend.
The Welsh got off to a disappointing start after a dismal second-half showing against England resulted in an opening defeat at the Millennium Stadium. Wales responded with their first victory of the championship as they edged past Scotland at Murrayfield. Since then, Gatland's team have won in France before an exceptional home win over Ireland blew the title race wide open.
Gatland has been forced into making two changes to his side for the trip to Rome. Aaron Jarvis starts at tight-head prop while Rob Evans is given his first start at loose-head. The forwards are brought in due to injuries to both Samson Lee and Gethin Jenkins. It is no surprise the rest of the Wales team remains the same after the quality of their performance last week against the Irish.
Italy are on course to avoid the Wooden Spoon and this is almost entirely due to their surprise win in Scotland. The Italians stunned the hosts at Murrayfield with a last-gasp victory but this has been a rare triumph for the side. Jacques Brunel's side were well beaten at home to Ireland and most recently France in addition to a predictable loss to England at Twickenham.
Wales are understandably extremely short priced favourites to win but the question remains by how much? Gatland's side are at a disadvantage in that they are playing before both Ireland and England so they don't know exactly what margin of victory they need. All Wales do know is that they need a big win and with Italy's three defeats all between 21 and 30 points, it could be worth backing the Welsh to continue this run.
One constant for the Welsh has been the form with the boot of Leigh Halfpenny. The Toulon full-back has been extremely reliable and kicked Wales into the lead in all four of their games this season. There is every reason to think this could continue at the Olympic Stadium so a Wales penalty as the first scoring play is recommended.
Back Wales penalty in the first scoring play at 2.77/4
Back Wales to win by 21-30 points in the Sportsbook at 2.89/5
Scotland v Ireland
Saturday March 21, 14:30
Live on BBC One
Ireland were in the driving seat to win the title but their hopes are very much in the balance after their defeat to Wales last weekend. Joe Schmidt's side go into the final round with an inferior points difference of four compared with England. The Irish face a difficult trip to Scotland but know only a win will give them a chance of retaining the championship.
The defending champions opened up with a comfortable win in Italy before being tested in their 18-11 home victory over the French. Ireland appeared to take a firm grip on the trophy after a dominant win over England but their Grand Slam hopes were dashed after being beaten 23-16 in a engrossing contest in Cardiff.
Schmidt was critical of his side's play last weekend where he felt Ireland had enough possession to win. The Irish were left frustrated after being unable to break down a superb Welsh defence. It meant the champions missed out on a record 11th consecutive Test win but the third ranked side in the world still have plenty to play for with the title on the line.
It has been a desperately disappointing campaign for Scotland after all the optimism heading into the competition. Vern Cotter's side are facing the prospect of finishing bottom having lost all four games, including a dire loss to Italy, unless they can upset Ireland. Scotland have played well in stages, as their half-time lead at Twickenham last week suggested, but have not been able to consistently perform throughout the whole 80 minutes of their games.
Ireland will be expected to win this weekend but this is no foregone conclusion. Scotland have beaten them in the last two clashes at Murrayfield and the current side will be desperate to ensure they finish with a victory. That could be beyond them but all of their defeats this year have been by 12 points or less so this margin for an Ireland win appears likely.
Although Scotland are bottom, they have given all their opponents a difficult game and only lost both their matches at Murrayfield by three points. It is also worth noting their last six home games against Ireland have seen them lose by no more than seven points so there is every reason to think it could be tight. The Irish may need a big win but there is no guarantee of achieving this. Backing Scotland with a nine-point handicap advantage appeals.
Back Ireland to win by 1-12 points in the Sportsbook at 2.47/5
Back Scotland +9 in the Sportsbook at 1.834/5
England v France
Saturday March 21, 17:00
Live on BBC One
England are on course to win the title after having to settle for second place during the last three years. Stuart Lancaster's side go into the final day with a slender lead of four in their points difference over Ireland. But significantly England play their match last on Saturday which offers them a big advantage in terms of knowing exactly what result they require.
It is fair to say England's form have has fluctuated so far in the competition. Arguably their best display came in the second half of their win in Wales on the opening weekend. But there have been stuttering performances including the first halves against both Italy and Scotland. England were outplayed in Ireland but are still in a position to claim their first title since 2011.
There is undoubted pressure on England to deliver success and take momentum into the World Cup which they are hosting later this year. The team still look short of the quality needed to emerge as winners in the autumn but there have been significant developments within the side. None more so than fly-half George Ford whose maturity and level of performance has been a major positive.
It is still hard to know what to expect from France. Mathematically the side could win the title but it would require such an unlikely set of results it is hardly worth thinking about. The French have mixed defeats against Ireland and Wales with wins over Scotland and in Italy last weekend. Philippe Saint-Andre is still struggling to identify his best team though as eight changes indicated ahead of the 29-0 win in Rome.
England are strongly fancied to deliver a closing win in front of their supporters. My gut feeling is they will not need a big victory, due to results earlier in the day, which might be just as well because ten points is their biggest win over France in the last six games. An England win by up to 12 points stands out as the best bet and would have paid off in their last three victories over Les Bleus.
Although France have been poor throughout most of the 6 Nations, you know there is always the possibility of the side producing the goods. The talent is there and a trip to Twickenham with the chance to thwart the title favourites is motivation enough. A home win is still the expected outcome but France have kept within a ten-point handicap in the last six clashes so this is worth a second glance.
Back England to win by 1-12 points in the Sportsbook at 2.47/5
Back France +10.5 at 1.84/5
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