Six Nations: Wales can sign off campaign with win over France

Wales boss Warren Gatland
Wales boss Warren Gatland hopes to steer his side to second place in this year's championship
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Simon Mail previews the final day of this year's competition which features Wales v France and Scotland's trip to Italy and provides his best bets and tips...

"Wales have enjoyed a strong record against France recently with five wins in the last six meetings. This includes victories in the last three games in Cardiff."

Scotland to sign off in style with rare away win

Italy v Scotland
Saturday, 12:30 GMT
Live on ITV

Scotland have shown plenty of progress during this year's tournament although question marks remain and the side still need to find a way to win away from home. Their record away from Murrayfield is poor and even a win over Italy in their final game will fail to offer convincing evidence of improvements on this front. A heavy opening defeat in Wales was a nightmare start although their superb win over England at home was a significant step in the right direction.

Gregor Townsend's side were much better than in Wales last week but Ireland still punished their mistakes in the 28-8 defeat. Scotland spurned a number of attacking opportunities and the ruthlessness of the Irish made the difference in a game where the scoreline did not offer a true reflection of the game. Only a win in Italy will enable the side to consider this a successful campaign though as they bid to match their tally of three wins from last season.

It has been another tough campaign for Italy with Conor O'Shea's side losing all four matches. The Italians have not won a game in the competition since beating Scotland away three years ago. Despite progress in attack this season, with eight tries in four games, Italy have been unable to push any teams close. Their 34-17 defeat in France was the closest they have come although the Italians will hope to cause Scotland problems in Rome.

Scotland are overwhelming favourites to win in Italy and the handicap mark is pitched at 17 points which could prove a challenging task considering their problems away from home. Ultimately, the visitors' attacking quality should be able to punish the hosts although it may not be completely one-sided. Their last win in Italy was by 16 points and there could be value in backing Scotland to win by 11 to 20 points at 3/1.

Home advantage can give Wales the edge

Wales v France
Saturday, 17:00 GMT
Live on BBC One

Wales are in pole position to finish second in this year's Six Nations with a home game against France rounding off their campaign. Warren Gatland's side have shown plenty of promise during the tournament, particularly at home during convincing wins over Scotland and Italy. Wales pushed England all the way at Twickenham in defeat but found Ireland too tough to crack in Dublin.

France could yet finish runners-up if they can win in Cardiff. This is not a vintage France team but they have shown some progress under new boss Jacques Brunel. This was evident last week after their 22-16 home victory over England in Paris. The French also defeated Italy but were beaten narrowly at home to Ireland and in Scotland during a campaign of mixed fortunes.

Wales have enjoyed a strong record against France recently with five wins in the last six meetings. This includes victories in the last three games in Cardiff. France edged to a 20-18 win in Paris last year but have been poor travellers in recent years which suggests they will struggle to end the campaign with a win. The hosts are worthy favourites and look likely to finish with another victory.

The handicap mark is set at eight points and this could be in the balance. A better bet could be to back Wales to win by no more than 12 points in a clash which has been tight down the years. Four of Wales' last five victories over France have been by ten points or less, so there is every chance of another close encounter. Both of France's defeats this year were by no more than six points so a narrow Wales win looks the most likely outcome.

Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster

2017/18 Rugby P/L

Staked: 112pts
Returned: 97.0pts
P/L: -15.0pts

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