Six Nations: England to win but Ireland set for title glory in France

Chris Robshaw will be hoping to lead England to the Six Nations title
Chris Robshaw will be hoping to lead England to the Six Nations title

Simon Mail previews the last day of this year's Six Nations and thinks Ireland can edge out England for the title on points difference...

"Quite simply, this is a poor French side with no continuity through the team while Ireland have performed consistently well during the competition."

Italy v England
Saturday March 15, 12.30pm
Live on BBC One

England head into the final day of this year's competition still in contention to land the title. But points difference is heavily in leaders Ireland's favour which means Stuart Lancaster's side may need to score a huge win to snatch the championship. Should the Irish claim victory, it will mean England must win by at least 51 points which indicates the potential scale of their task. 

Lancaster's team have impressed this season after an unlucky opening defeat to France. Wins over Scotland and Ireland followed before a dominant victory at Twickenham last weekend against Wales. Their performances have been very encouraging and demonstrate why England have opted to select an unchanged team. Manu Tuilagi is available from the bench and could provide a powerful addition to the backline if the visitors are chasing more tries. 

Italy are facing the wooden spoon unless they can pull off a massive upset in Rome. The Italians have suffered four defeats and a fifth beckons against a confident England side. The biggest disappointment for them was the home loss to Scotland when the visitors snatched a late win. There have been some promising spells during games but these have been sporadic. Their capitulation in Ireland last week summed this up but they can at least recall fit again captain Sergio Parisse. 

The two sides have faced each other 19 times and all of the games have been won by England so this weekend's result does not look in doubt. The visitors are overwhelming favourites for this match but this does not mean England will find it easy building the margin of win they may well require. The last three clashes in Rome have been settled by five points or fewer. A better betting proposition could be backing Luther Burrell to score as the centre has three tries in four appearances. Expect the visitors to make a fast start so take an England try to be the first scoring play. 

Recommended Bets:
Back Luther Burrell to score anytime at 2.26/5
Back an England try as the first scoring play at 2.526/4

Wales v Scotland
Saturday March 15, 2.45pm
Live on BBC One

It has been a disappointing defence for Wales as they relenquish their crown following successive titles. Warren Gatland's side have been extremely inconsistent having gone from mediocrity against Italy and the excellence at home to France to the inept performances in Ireland and England.
Predicting what to expect from them this weekend is hard but you would think they will improve significantly on last weekend's loss in London.

Scotland started slowly this year but have improved as it has gone on and could easily be sitting on two wins going into this clash. The team will know how Italy felt against them after the agony of a late defeat at home to France last week. Scotland will have to improve their discipline, having leaked an average of 12 penalties each game, if they want to end the championship on a winning note. 

Wales are warm favourites for this match but their odds don't offer any value especially considering their lack of consistency this year. Six wins in a row against Scotland and ten in their last 11 meetings is a better indicator of their slender price. Wales have made six changes to the side, with half-backs Dan Biggar and Mike Phillips recalled, which could give them the spark they need. But the visitors are fancied on the handicap betting and the value bet looks to be a narrow home win. 

Recommended Bets:
Back Wales to win by under 12.5 points at 3.55/2
Back Scotland +11.5 on the Sportsbook at 2.3611/8

France v Ireland
Saturday March 15, 5pm
Live on BBC One

It is amazing to think this France team could still walk away with the title on Saturday night despite performing so poorly during the competition. Philippe Saint-Andre's side have been very lucky to have won three matches because they snatched victories away from England in the opening round and Scotland last weekend. France are boosted by the return of Louis Picamoles after the Toulouse forward was dropped for the last match.

Ireland know a win in this final match should bring them the title and this would be richly deserved after a very impressive transition under new coach Joe Schmidt. It would also be the perfect way for Brian O'Driscoll to bow out from international rugby in the iconic centre's 141st game for Ireland. 

The Irish have transformed themselves under Schmidt with the highlight coming in the comprehensive home win over Wales. Their only defeat was by three points in England and these two sides have been far and away the best teams this year. A points difference of 81 tells its own story and shows how well Ireland have performed throughout the competition. Peter O'Mahony comes back into the team in the only change to the side which put scored seven tries against Italy.

If betting was just about head to head records there would only be one winner as France are unbeaten in six and have lost just once at home to Ireland since 1972. The victory in 2000, inspired by O'Driscoll's hat-trick remains the only triumph since then but the history books can only tell you so much. Quite simply, this is a poor French side with no continuity through the team while Ireland have performed consistently well during the competition. With the job almost complete, a confident Ireland can claim a rare win in France. O'Driscoll was named man of the match last week and if the Irish emerge triumphant and the retiring star plays a role, the sentimental vote could go to him so back him at a generous price in the Sportsbook. 

Recommended Bets:
Back Ireland to win by under 12.5 points at 2.767/4
Back Brian O'Driscoll to win man-of-the-match on the Sportsbook at 9.08/1

Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster 

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