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England to keep Grand Slam train rolling

England to keep Grand Slam train rolling


The only two nations with aspirations of a 2019 Six Nations Grand Slam go head-to-head in Cardiff on Saturday in what is set to be another massive tussle between Wales and England.

England to win @ 1/2

Nothing gets Welsh hearts racing more than a clash with the English at the Principality Stadium and, with both teams unbeaten after the first two rounds, there is even more at stake.

After a 2018 Six Nations to forget, England have built on strong performances over the autumn to really get back to where they should be in this tournament.

Head coach Eddie Jones has taken some stick at times over the last 12 months but the return of key individuals, and the rise in form of others, has seen England move themselves into a positive place in a World Cup year.

A relentless battering of the Irish in Dublin was followed by a demolishing of the French in London and now Jones’ men have the Welsh in their sights.

England will be without Mako Vunipola but his brother Billy is set for another mammoth performance. Fellow returning star Manu Tuilagi is also set to take an aggressive game to the Welsh.

Winger Jonny May, man of the tournament so far, is in scintillating form and Wales boss Warren Gatland will be all too familiar with the threats at England’s disposal.

Of course, Gatland has seen it all before in his time with the Welsh, a spell that is quickly drawing to an end as he prepares to leave the team after the World Cup in Japan later this year.

His players are certainly doing all they can to make sure the Kiwi vacates his position at the WRU on a high, having secured wins over the French and the Italians in the first two rounds.

Many will still be wondering, even now, how Wales managed to win that opener is Paris, as Les Bleus gifted the visitors two tries in a disastrous second half for the hosts.

Not much can be looked into when it comes to the unconvincing victory over the Azzurri after Gatland chose to make many changes to the side that stunned the French.

Wales simply cannot afford to give England the same headstart they gave France, as the Red Rose don’t appear to be in the same generous mood as Les Bleus have been of late.

The Welsh have some real quality at their disposal and expect Jonathan Davies in the centres to have another massive game.

Wales at 10/13 with +4.5 on the handicap might be worth looking at, but England seem to be in unstoppable form at the moment and might just be able to edge this one in Cardiff.

France to win by 1-10 @ 9/5

French rugby is in a bad place at the moment after their thrashing at Twickenham although they have the chance to put things right this weekend when they host Scotland in the earlier kick-off on Saturday.

France find themselves playing to avoid the wooden spoon this season after a torrid start.

Head coach Jacques Brunel is coming under increasing pressure for his position with the French Rugby Federation and, if their woes continue, he is unlikely to be the man to take them to Japan.

After a horror show against England, Brunel has finally decided to play stars in their actual positions and the French should have a bit more structure about their attack and, more importantly, their defence.

They welcome a Scotland side that will still be rueing the opportunities they squandered against Ireland two weeks ago at Murrayfield.

That defeat cost more than just points and position in the table, with stars Stuart Hogg and Huw Jones added to the list of injuries.

Worse was to follow, with fly-half Finn Russell suffering a concussion playing in Paris for Racing 92 against Toulouse last weekend.

Perhaps the Scots can look back after the World Cup and be grateful these injuries came now instead of leading to the major tournament in Japan, but the list makes unhappy reading.

If Scotland did have Russell, Hogg, Jones, WP Nel, Hamish Watson, John Barclay, Ryan Wilson and Duncan Taylor (to just name a few) at their disposal, they would fancy their chances of a first victory in Paris since 1999.

This will be a massive test for head coach Gregor Townsend to see if his squad has a bit more strength in depth than they have in recent years.

Again, Scotland +5.5 on the handicap is worth consideration at 50/51, but France could just get the relief they need with victory against the Scots.

Italy with +29.5 handicap FT @ 10/13

Italy will be determined to build on their resilient performance against the Welsh when they welcome Ireland to Rome on Sunday.

Again, the Azzurri are looking down the barrel of another wooden spoon although they will take heart from the positive moments in that display against Wales.

Ireland will be more than tempted to rest players ahead of bigger Tests to come down the line, with Wales and France to follow this weekend.

The Azzurri take great inspiration from the home crowd at the Stadio Olimpico and, with potential Irish changes, this could be a slightly closer affair than some might think.

Of course, Ireland should come away comfortable victors and with a bonus point, but Italy might have a few opportunities to get points on the board.

The handicap on offer seems generous and both Wales and Scotland did allow Italy to get over the line in the first two rounds.

A resounding Ireland win is on the cards although Italy look good value with a +29.5 point start.

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Alex Jack As a regular at Murrayfield and Headingley, Alex's knowledge of both Rugby Union and Rugby League is undoubted. He also takes in plenty of Football League action and particularly specialises in Championship betting.


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