England head north of the border this weekend looking to maintain their perfect start to the Six Nations and extend a decade of domination over the auld enemy, Scotland.
Eddie Jones’ men had to dig deep to see off the challenge of Wales in the last round and could be in for another testing afternoon at Murrayfield, which has become a fortress for the Scots in recent years.
France were the latest side to go down to defeat in Edinburgh, meaning it is seven wins from the last eight matches at Murrayfield for Scotland, who have averaged 35 points per game during that run.
Gregor Townsend’s men are certainly a different proposition on home soil and there will be no repeat of the 61-21 hammering England inflicted on their rivals when they last met in the Six Nations.
However, it should still be the English who come out on top given their superior quality and strength in depth that they now possess.
The main problem Townsend and Scotland have is whatever approach they take to the game then England will be better at it, be it an arm wrestle between the forwards or a free-flowing game heavily involving the backs.
Given the way the Scots have been slow out of the blocks in their first two matches it could be worth looking at England to win the race to 10 points at 1/2, while they are 20/23 to claim the win with a minus 7.5 handicap.
Saturday promises to be a thrilling day of rugby with the Calcutta Cup clash proceeded by Ireland looking to preserve their 100 percent record against Wales.
After a narrow victory over France in round one, the Irish showed their attacking prowess with a 52-19 thrashing of Italy and it promises to be an excellent game when they square up against a Wales side boosted by the return of three key men.
The Welsh were beset with injuries coming into the Six Nations but have Dan Biggar, Leigh Halfpenny and Liam Williams back in the starting XV this week.
In contrast, Ireland are without two vital parts of their pack in Tadhg Furlong and Iain Henderson.
Wales had to play out of their skins to get the better of Ireland in last year’s Six Nations and will need to be somewhere near that level to come out on top at fortress Aviva Stadium.
Ireland should win this one but the tip is to take Wales with a plus eight handicap at 20/23 to keep it close.
Finally we come to Friday’s game between France and Italy, which is shaping up to be the wooden spoon decider based on how these two have performed so far.
The French have let wins overs Ireland and Scotland slip through their fingers seemingly due to a lack of fitness and discipline, giving away far too many penalties at Murrayfield.
The fact eight players have been dropped from the squad that went to Scotland for “inappropriate behaviour” tells its own story and the Azzurri could make life tough for them in their first ever Six Nations match away from Paris.
The Italians again look somewhere short of the quality needed to challenge for the win and are expected to lose a 15th straight Six Nations match on Friday. However, they could still be worth backing at 50/57 with a plus 17.5 handicap to keep it close against a chaotic French team, who will feel the wrath of the Marseille crowd if they fail to spark early on.
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