Six Nations week 3: Can England stake serious Grand Slam claim?
A cursory glance at the 2016 Six Nations table ahead of the third weekend of action tells you that only two teams are still in with a shout of landing the Grand Slam, but anybody who has been watching a little more closely knows England and France’s credentials are about to be severely tested.
Having posted a first win of the tournament against Scotland in what turned out to be an enthralling contest in Cardiff, Wales fans know their country could be the biggest gainers of the weekend.
If Warren Gatland’s men use home advantage to defeat France and Ireland, whom they drew against in week one, can burst England’s early bubble with victory at Twickenham, then they’ll suddenly be favourites for the tournament.
As it stands with two away wins under their belts, the last of which was a try-filled romp in Rome, leaves Eddie Jones’ seemingly rejuvenated World Cup flops as firm 8/11 shots to win the Six Nations.
The Grand Slam is still relatively short at 15/8, set to shrink further if an Ireland side in transition are beat. However, the Irish are sure to offer stubborn resistance even though they are yet to register a win as reigning double champions.
Wales are 2/1 shots to claim glory for the first time since 2013 under Gatland, thanks largely to the fact they entertain France, whose own Grand Slam ambitions are understandably measured cautiously at 4/1.
Two exceptionally squeaky victories over the Italians and Ireland at the Stade Francais have not done enough to convince they are ready to topple Wales in Cardiff on Friday night, let alone achieve the perfect set of five wins.
The most likely scenario feels like it will be home wins for Wales and England, and with the Red Dragons travelling to London for the penultimate game week, those who have faith in Jones’ new wave ought to back them now.
Wales are 2/7 for victory at the Principality Stadium and England are 3/10 chances to topple Joe Schmidt’s 50/1 shots to retain their Six Nations.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.