Our rugby expert has previewed France vs Ireland in the Six Nations, with three predictions for the game.
- France host Ireland at 8:05pm on Saturday as the rearranged Six Nations fixtures continue this weekend - live on BBC Two from 7:30pm.
- Ireland currently top the Six Nations table with 14 points, following their victory against Italy.
- Danny Till landed two from three in his preview last weekend and he has three selections for Ireland vs Italy, including an anytime tryscorer selection.
France v Ireland - 20:05 Saturday
The final game of 'Super Saturday' will decide the fate of the 2020 Six Nations title as Ireland travel to Paris, knowing that a bonus point victory will secure them a fourth championship in seven years.
Ireland coach Andy Farrell has been forced to make one change to his starting XV that beat Italy last week, with Robbie Henshaw replacing Garry Ringrose at outside centre.
France could also be in with a shot at the title, but they will need to claim a bonus point and better England’s result by two points. But, as the old cliché goes “never write off the French”.
Fabien Galthie’s side were impressive as they beat Wales 38-21 in a warm-up fixture last weekend, but have been forced to reshuffle their backline with Teddy Thomas ruled out, Gael Fickou has moved to the wing and Arthur Vincent coming in at inside centre.
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Second half troubles could hurt French
Having backed France for the title at the start of the tournament it would be great to see them upset the odds on Saturday and better England’s result. They have played some scintillating rugby and this new generation are going to be a force for years to come.
However they are still displaying some of the bad habits which plagued them in years gone by. In their last 10 internationals the French have led going into the break in each match, but they have only won the second half in four of those - with three of those second half wins coming against Italy (twice) and USA.
Even in their best performances of the Six Nations they have been hanging on at times in the final quarter of matches.
In contrast Ireland are generally a side who really stick in games and in their last 10 internationals they have recorded eight second half wins (the only two losses coming against Japan and New Zealand at the World Cup).
At home the French will want to impose themselves early, but if Ireland can hang in the game and be in striking distance with 20 minutes to go, then those old demons for France could raise their heads once more – and let's not forget Ireland have won on three of their last four visits to Paris.
At 9/1 France/Ireland on the half time/full time market is my first selection for this game.
Captain Ollivon can strike again
French skipper Charles Ollivon has been one of the real stars of this tournament and has established himself as a real talisman of this new look France side. Heading into this final game the 27-year-old leads the tournament scoring charts with four tries – and he looks set to add to this tally on Saturday.
In his last three games at the Stade de France he has scored four times, including a brace in the opening round win against England. He has deceptive pace for such a big man and his link play with Antoine Dupont around the fringes will exploit any defensive weaknesses the Irish may have.
In a game that should provide plenty of scoring chances with both sides needing a bonus point, Ollivon is a superb price at 4/1 to score anytime and is also worth a small punt at 25/1 to score two or more tries in the game.