France and Italy should be backed this time in Six Nations

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England may not be playing Ireland until a day later with the winner certain to become favourites to win the Six Nations, but there is still plenty for punters to get their teeth into in the other two fixtures.

Two wounded animals clash in Saint-Denis as France entertain Wales, while the loser of Italy’s trip to Scotland will be heavily fancied to end the competition holding the wooden spoon.

France (-8) to beat Wales @ 1/1

Rewind back two years and France again lost in Italy in the Six Nations. How did they follow up on that occasion? By beating Wales by 19 points.

Although this victory margin is unlikely at the Stade De France, it is hard not to see the hosts getting back on the winning bandwagon.

The French usually throw one clanger into a Six Nations campaign and this time they have got it out of the way early on.

Thierry Dusautoir’s return as captain should provide some welcomed leadership, while the other change sees giant centre Mathieu Bastareaud join Toulon colleagues Frederic Michalak and Maxime Mermoz in the midfield.

Wales were second best in the scrum against Ireland and more of the same could be in the pipeline here, as the Welsh look to end a run of eight straight defeats dating back to when they beat France at the last Six Nations.

Italy (+5) to beat Scotland @ 1/1

If the same Italy turn up to Murrayfield that were too hot for France previously in the Six Nations then they can win this without the need for a handicap start.

Italy were especially aggressive, with the most notable difference from previous years in the competition seeming to be new-found depths of stamina.

Tries have often been a problem for Scotland at home in the Six Nations too and they have failed to touch down in six of their last eight at Murrayfield in the competition.

With the likes of Stuart Hogg in the team, this area of their game should improve, while the extra day’s rest they have had could offer a slight advantage.

However, Italy look ready to become more of a Six Nations force and with a head start they are hard to oppose.

All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.