Six Nations Tips: France to deny Wales Grand Slam triumph

France back Gael Fickou
France are fancied to respond to their defeat in England

Wales head to France with the Six Nations Grand Slam within their sights but Simon Mail thinks the hosts will deny them in Paris...

"France have won the last two games against Wales with both coming last year. Wayne Pivac's Wales have certainly improved significantly but France are an exceptionally strong side and will be determined to react to their defeat in England."

France v Wales
Saturday, 20:00
Live on BBC One

France stung by late defeat at Twickenham

Wales were unfancied at the start of this year's Six Nations but Wayne Pivac's side are closing in on the title and one win away from completing the Grand Slam. Their final match is far from straight forward though, with a trip to Paris to face France. Both of these teams can still win the championship, although France need victories from their last two games, with the Scotland match still to be rearranged, while defeat could still be enough for Wales.

France's Grand Slam bid was ended last weekend after suffering a 23-20 defeat to England at Twickenham. Tries from the outstanding Antoine Dupont and Damian Penaud put Fabien Galthie's side in front. But England's second-half pressure was rewarded with a late try from Maro Itoje which edged the contest.

Wales closing in on Grand Slam

It has been quite the turnaround this year for Wales after an unimpressive first season for Pivac. Wales have improved as the competition has progressed, after benefiting from red cards for Ireland and Scotland in their opening wins.

A clinical performance against England resulted in a 40-24 bonus point win and Wales flexed their attacking muscles with a seven-try 48-7 win in Italy last weekend.

adams wales.jpg

Wales make one change to their team with lock Adam Beard recalled after missing the Italy win. Beard replaces Cory Hill for this potential decider. Captain Alun Wyn Jones is bidding to win a fourth Grand Slam as he makes his 148th appearance for Wales. The visitors have gone with continuity as they look to complete an unexpected clean sweep.

France, who named an unchanged side, have won the last two games against Wales with both coming last year. Pivac's Wales have certainly improved significantly but France are an exceptionally strong side and will be determined to react to their defeat in England. Wales know a narrow defeat could still be enough to win the title and this looks likely to be settled by fine margins. The hosts appeal but a win by no more than ten points stands out at 15/8.

Scotland v Italy
Saturday, 14:15
Live on BBC One

Scotland need big win after Murrayfield setbacks

Scotland started the tournament brilliantly after a famous win over England at Twickenham but have been unable to build on this performance. Gregor Townsend's side stunned the defending champions but it has been a tale of frustration since the opener. Scotland were beaten narrowly at home to Wales before their game in France was postponed. Too many mistakes last weekend let them down as they were defeated 27-24 by Ireland at Murrayfield.

Italy unable to halt losing run

Italy have shown no sign of ending their miserable losing run in the tournament. Franco Smith's side were swept aside by Wales in Rome last weekend. It was Italy's 31st successive Six Nations defeat and will only increase talk of introducing relegation to the competition. The team have conceded 187 points and 26 tries during another difficult campaign.

Scotland have won their last nine matches against Italy and it is impossible to make a case for the visitors. The handicap mark is 28 points which should be within the hosts' sights. But Scotland's defence has let them down in their last two defeats and there is no guarantee the home side will shut Italy out. A win by 21 to 30 points offers more value at 3/1 than chancing them covering the handicap.

Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster

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