The stories to watch as the Six Nations enters week three
They say that champions win even when they don’t play well, and that can certainly be applied to England right now. Eddie Jones’ men have found it tough going against France and Wales, but should be able to find their groove this weekend.
Italy are the visitors to Twickenham on Sunday and the Azzurri have lost all 22 prior meetings with the Red Rose.
Their performances in London have varied in recent years, from a valiant narrow 18-11 loss in 2013, to a 47-17 beating two years later.
Little wonder Eddie Jones’ charges are 1/200 this weekend.
And there’s a chance that England could all but secure the championship come full-time, but that requires a helping hand from France in Dublin.
After losing their opening game to Scotland, Ireland can’t afford to slip up, and will be buoyed by the return of Johnny Sexton.
Our odds of 2/7 suggest the Emerald Isle will see off Les Bleus on Saturday.
But there’s a very real chance that France could claim a result at 11/4, with Guy Noves’ outfit boasting a fine record against Joe Schmidt’s men.
France have won 11 of the last 18 meetings, and that includes just one loss in their last seven trips to Dublin.
The pressure will be very much on the hosts then, if they’re to maintain any hope of winning this year’s championship.
But before of all that, Wales will have their chance to make amends for that last-gasp loss to England.
The Red Dragons head north to Edinburgh, where they’ll face a Scotland side similarly unenthused with their late defeat in Paris.
The Tartan Army have also been dealt blows by injuries to skipper Greig Laidlaw and Josh Strauss, who will both miss the remainder of the competition, while Wales’ George North will return.
Victory is imperative for Warren Gatland’s side, who could yet win the lot if England were to slip up in Dublin on the final day.
It should be a thrilling encounter at Murrayfield, with Wales 5/6 favourites to win a 10th straight contest against the Scots.
And North is one to watch, for having scored a try in his last five Six Nations matches, he could set a new-record if he goes over this weekend. 8/1 says he does so with the first Try of the match.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing