England v Italy: World Cup contenders to finish warm-ups with big win

England centre Manu Tuilagi
England thrashed Ireland in their last match
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Simon Mail expects another convincing win for Eddie Jones' side as they finish up their World Cup preparations...

"England have won all 25 previous games against Italy and the hosts are expected to ease to victory again ahead of Sunday's journey to Japan."

England v Italy
Friday, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports Action

England building momentum after Twickenham rout

England play their final World Cup warm-up match on Friday night in Newcastle against Italy with Eddie Jones looking for a big performance from his players.

His team were rampant in their last match after a record 57-15 hammering of Ireland at Twickenham. England scored eight tries during the one-sided win to increase confidence heading towards Japan.

After being denied his first appearance due to injury, wing Ruaridh McConnochie has been selected to make his debut at St James' Park. McConnochie was one of the surprise selections for the World Cup and he will feature in the backline along with outside centre Joe Marchant despite not being named in England's 31-man squad.

Italy face a huge challenge at the World Cup after being drawn in a pool featuring world champions New Zealand and a resurgent South Africa.

Conor O'Shea's side propped up the Six Nations again this year and have lost every game in the competition since beating Scotland in 2015. Their only victory in the last ten matches was against Russia last month and Italy could be in for another tough evening.

England have won all 25 previous games against Italy and the hosts are expected to ease to victory again ahead of Sunday's journey to Japan. The handicap mark is set at 33 points but England have only covered this in one of their last five wins against Italy. A better bet could be to back the first half to have more tries at 6/4 with the likes of newcomer McConnochie and Anthony Watson eager to make an early impact.

Ireland v Wales
Saturday, 14:00
Live on Channel 4

Schmidt hoping for winning finale in Ireland

Ireland have faced criticism this year after a lacklustre Six Nations defence and their thrashing against England. Joe Schmidt has kept the faith with his team though and guided them to a 22-17 win in Wales last weekend.

With fly-half Johnny Sexton returning for his first World Cup warm-up game on Saturday to partner scrum-half Conor Murray, Ireland will be confident about heading to Japan with back-to-back victories.

Wales' stint at the top of the world rankings was shortlived, after their home defeat to Ireland, but Warren Gatland is purely focused on ensuring the Six Nations Grand Slam champions are in the best possible shape to contend for the World Cup. Rhys Patchell starts at fly-half in a strong team this weekend after pipping Jarrod Evans to a place in their 31-man squad.

Schmidt takes charge of his final home match, with his tenure ending after the World Cup, while captain Rory Best will also have his last game at the Aviva Stadium. Ireland have no shortage of motivation and with a strong team selected can overcome Wales. Their opponents pride themselves on an outstanding defence though and Ireland will be pushed hard so a narrow win by no more than 12 points looks likely in Dublin.


Scotland v Georgia
Friday, 19:30
Live on Premier Sports

Scotland boosted by rare away win

Scotland's poor away form has been a notable weakness under Gregor Townsend but the side claimed a much-needed victory last weekend with a dominant 44-10 victory in Georgia. Fly-half Finn Russell was in exceptional form but centre Rory Hutchinson suffered disappointment after missing out on a World Cup place despite scoring two tries.

Georgia were well beaten in Tbilisi, in their first match of the season, as the tier two side failed to demonstrate any signs they merit a place in the Six Nations in the future. The one-sided win underlined the significant gulf between the teams and Georgia will find it hard going against Wales and Australia at the World Cup in Japan.

Scotland are overwhelming favourites to finish their warm-up games with a victory, with the handicap mark set at 27 points. This looks touch and go but Scotland have led by 20 points at half-time in their last two wins against Georgia. This suggests the hosts are worth backing to lead by at least 13 points at the break during a comfortable win at Murrayfield.

Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster

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