France v Ireland
Live on ITV
France face potential title duel
France started this year's Six Nations as favourites but face a pivotal showdown against Ireland this weekend which could be decisive in the race for the title. Both teams made winning starts to the tournament and this clash in Paris has all the makings of a classic encounter. France opened up with a routine 37-10 win over Italy but Les Bleus will need to step on this performance to handle a confident Ireland team.
The outstanding win over New Zealand in November underlined the creativity and flair which marked France down as the team to beat. There was still plenty of room for improvement against Italy despite Gabin Villiere scoring a hat-trick in their bonus-point victory. Fabien Galthie makes two changes to the team, with centre Yoram Moefana handed his first Six Nations start and Francois Cros replacing Dylan Cretin in the back row.
Ireland impress with dominant win
Ireland also claimed an impressive win over the All Blacks in the autumn and Andy Farrell's side carried this momentum into their opener last week.
Andrew Conway scored twice in Ireland's easy 29-7 win at home to beleaguered champions Wales to set up a huge tussle at the Stade de France.
The bonus-point victory was their ninth successive win and highlighted the major strides Ireland have achieved in enhancing their attack over the last year.
Ireland are forced into their only change for the game in France with captain Johnny Sexton ruled out with a hamstring injury. Joey Carbery replaces Sexton at fly-half with forward James Ryan taking the captaincy. Sexton's experience will be a big miss in Paris although Carbery does offer a different attacking proposition to test the hosts.
France are edging favouritism at 1.618/13 for this highly-anticipated encounter against one of their title contenders. The last two clashes against Ireland have been won by France and both of them were settled by eight points or less. The handicap mark is set at five points and this contest is likely to be finely balanced until the finish. France won 15-13 last season and it could be similarly tight but the home side's attack, led by the outstanding scrum-half Antoine Dupont, could edge them to a win by no more than 10 points.
Wales v Scotland
Live on BBC One
Wounded champions suffer crushing defeat
Wales stormed to the title last season but the troubled champions suffered a crushing defeat last weekend and face a major challenge against a much-improved Scotland. Wayne Pivac has been hindered by a series of injuries to his squad including Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric. Wales simply had no answer to Ireland's dominant performance in Dublin as they well beaten.
The pressure is on Wales to respond to this heavy defeat with a packed home crowd demanding a big performance in Cardiff. Uncapped flanker Jac Morgan makes his Wales debut in one of four changes. Ross Moriarty also comes in with Ellis Jenkins and Aaron Wainwright missing out. Alex Cuthbert starts for injured wing Josh Adams in his first competition appearance for five years.
Scotland's belief soaring after Calcutta Cup glory
Scotland have so often disappointed on the big stage but this team, marshalled by head coach Gregor Townsend, has started to shift this status with a series of notable scalps.
Their thrilling 20-17 home win over England last weekend completed back-to-back Calcutta Cup triumphs for Scotland.
A late penalty try snatched victory for Scotland with the team's defensive strength and work off the ball crucial in grinding out a tense Murrayfield success.
Townsend has been forced into a number of changes for the trip to Wales with flanker Jamie Ritchie ruled out of the rest of the tournament after surgery on a hamstring injury. Exeter's Sam Skinner replaces Ritchie in the forward pack while Pierre Schoeman and WP Nel join hooker Stuart McInally in the front row. Inside centre Sione Tuipulotu wins his third cap.
Scotland are in a unique position, starting as favourites to win a match in Wales, but the visitors appear well-placed to claim a rare victory in Cardiff. Wales are given a three-point handicap advantage which underlines this is another match expected to be settled by fine margins. The last three contests have been decided by no more than seven points and this could easily follow suit. Scotland claimed away wins in England and France last season and this increasingly confident team are backed to topple the champions with another narrow victory.
Italy v England
Live on ITV
England must recover after early setback
England's title hopes suffered an early blow after their defeat against Scotland and Eddie Jones' side need a big reaction and maximum points in Italy on Sunday. Luke Cowan-Dickie's intentional knock-on proved costly with the late penalty try helping Scotland prevail despite England dominating possession and territory in Edinburgh.
It was a frustrating defeat for England and has to be deemed a missed opportunity after leading for much of the second half in Scotland. Tom Curry will continue to captain the team, in Owen Farrell's absence, but England will still be without influential flanker Courtney Lawes in Rome due to his recovery from concussion.
Italy have never beaten England and the hosts are given a 25-point handicap head start in the Stadio Olimpico. Marcus Smith made a big impact on his Six Nations debut with 17 points, including a try, at Murrayfield. The Harlequins fly-half has three tries in six appearances for England and his pace is a huge threat to Italy. England should ease to a bonus-point win and Smith appeals at 12/5 to score again.
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