Six Nations Round Four Tips & Betting Preview
There could be some value this weekend, here are four tips for round four.
Before we even talk about this weekend’s matches let’s just say that round three was a bit of a disaster as there were no winning selections.
France were all set to claim a 12 point win but in the 86th minute decided to go for another try to seal the bonus point. England looked to be in control at half-time against Wales and well on their way to a 1-10 point victory but ill-discipline and a lack of tactical flexibility saw them crumble in Cardiff.
On a positive note couple of the ante-post selections look to be in good shape. Jonny May is currently leading the way as England’s top tryscorer (advised at 3/1 pre-tournament) and has games against Italy and Scotland coming up, so it would be a major disappointment if he can’t add to his haul.
While no Triple Crown winner (advised at $2.75*) could also be another winner providing either Scotland, but more likely Ireland, can beat Wales in the last two rounds.
Scotland v Wales – Sunday 1:15am
Wales travel to Edinburgh to face Scotland on Saturday afternoon as their quest for the Grand Slam continues. This a fixture that has been dominated by the Welsh, who have won 11 of the last 12 encounters dating back to 2007.
Scotland has Finn Russell returning in the number 10 jersey along with tight-head prop WP Nel, but are still without two of their most exciting backs in Stuart Hogg and Huw Jones. Russell is clearly a key player to the Scotland attack and can create magic out of nothing, but can his forwards provide the platform for him to thrive?
There have certainly been flashes of brilliance from the Scottish side so far in the competition, but all too often they have been let down by poor execution and handling errors – the Ireland game which to my eyes was there for the taking is a prime example.
One feature of Wales’s unbeaten campaign has been their strong second half displays. So far they have scored a total of 56 points in the second half whilst conceding just 14. Contrast this with Scotland who has scored 31 points but conceded 44 in the final 40 minutes of their fixtures.
The replacements will once again play a vital role and this an area where Wales have the upper hand, particularly with Dan Biggar who has changed his team’s fortunes in both the France and England fixtures.
Add all these factors up and the second half handicap of two points looks to be well within the reach of this Welsh side and would be my best bet of the weekend.
England v Italy – Sunday 3:45am
After seeing their Grand Slam hopes go up in flames in Cardiff, England play Italy on Saturday evening, knowing that two bonus point wins may still win them the title.
Eddie Jones has made five changes to his side with Ben Te’o, Joe Cokanasiga, Joe Launchbury, Ellis Genge and Brad Shields all starting. The additions of Te’o and Cokanasiga in particular hint at a gameplan built around physical dominance and a move away from the kicking tactics which they relied too heavily on against Wales.
The Italians have performed with great credit in each of their three games so far, barring a woeful first 60 minutes against Scotland they have been right in each contest. One of their best performers has been winger Edoardo Padovani, who already has three tries in three games.
The 25-year-old has been the main beneficiary of a more expansive style which Conor O’Shea is clearly encouraging. In a contest which could see a few tries, there are much worse bets in the world than Padovani to be the first Italian try scorer.
Another player who is worth a second look in the try scorer markets is Owen Farrell. The Saracens star probably had his worst performance in an England shirt against Wales, but after 66 caps that’s certainly no knock on him. He is just the type of player to bounce back in with a big performance.
Three of his 10 international tries have come against the Azzurri and he could definitely benefit from the powerful runners in the backline who will certainly create plenty of space. I just think he could sneak over and as he is the biggest price of any of the England backs to score anytime I will be taking it.
Ireland v France – Monday 2:00am
The final game of the weekend is arguably the most intriguing of all, as an Ireland side short on confidence take on a French side who looked rejuvenated against Scotland - and for the first time since 2003 have announced an unchanged starting XV!
Since their loss in the opening fixture, Ireland has looked far from the side who swept all before them in 2018. They were far from convincing against Scotland (who did everything possible to shoot themselves in the foot) and scraped past Italy in round three. So they really need to bounce back.
Meanwhile, France looked like something approaching a cohesive unit as they scored some brilliant tries against Scotland last time. The ship was steered by promising youngsters Antoine Dupont and Romaine Ntamack, who will once again look to unleash the likes of Damian Penaud, Yohan Huget and Thomas Ramos. But the pressure cooker of Dublin is a completely new test.
The games between these sides have been notoriously close and despite the fact Ireland have dominated (winning the last 6 meetings) there has been no winning margin bigger than 10 points for either side since 2010.
I just think with all the experience in their side and the fact Schmidt has had two weeks to really get stuck into his players, Ireland will just have too much nous in the big moments, so a 1-10 point win for the hosts would be my selection.