Pitchside with Ferris: Ireland v Wales, England v Scotland and France v Italy

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Ireland v Wales, Saturday, 14:15

Ireland were impressive when it came to their defensive roles and responsibilities last weekend. For large periods of the game they were on the back foot and ultimately it was their defence that won them the game.

They showed a lot of heart, enthusiasm and energy which should be a given at international rugby, but they maintained that for large parts which was very pleasing.

They will have to improve their attack heading into this game as Wales won’t let Ireland off the hook the way Scotland did.

If Ireland spend the same amount of time defending their own line this weekend, then it could turn in to another arm wrestle which had all the fans nervous last Saturday.

I think it is going to be a harder game for Ireland but hopefully their defence can be as resilient as it was against Scotland and their attack creates more chances…

I must give credit to Wales last weekend; they played a nice brand of Rugby which was very exciting to watch.

They were ruthless and took every opportunity presented to them. Being under a new coaching team with Wayne Pivac and Stephen Jones, the hard work is paying off.

Wales will have to up their game this weekend if they are hoping to get a win away from Principality Stadium.

I struggle to see this happening as the last time they beat Ireland away from home was way back in 2012. Wales being Wales, they will always fancy their chances.

I have a feeling with the experienced team Ireland has picked with Robbie Henshaw and Peter O’Mahony, these big players usually deliver at the Aviva in important games! I can see Ireland beating the handicap of –4 and winning the game, 27-18.

Prediction: 27-18 Ireland win

Scotland v England, Saturday, 16:45

Everyone can remember that battle back in March 2019 between Scotland and England when the game ended in a 38-all draw!

I can sense a rivalry between Scotland and England between not only the players but also the coaching staff. This is going to be an interesting watch.

I would be going for an English win but for Scotland to run them tight. The weather is due to close in with this storm on the way so we will have to wait and see what the weather will be like in Murrayfield, Edinburgh.

Usually when the weather is bad it makes for a tougher, tighter game and that is exactly what Scotland will want.

Scotland need to be more clinical for sure. Nobody could have predicted Stuart Hogg would have dropped the ball over the line… If that conversion had of been kicked then it would have been a level match!

It is those fine margins that make the difference at international level and generally you don’t get a second chance to put things right. Stuart Hogg certainly didn’t get a second chance…

With Magnus Bradbury back at number 8, he is an exceptional player who will add a lot of strength and go forward to the team.

It is important that Scotland get off to a fast start in this game and keep the pressure on, what seems like a vulnerable English side at the minute.

They need to take it to England, up the physicality from last weekend against Ireland and be more clinical when they get 5-10 yards out from the line.

I am looking forward to watching this game and can see it ending pretty tight; I can’t see it being a crazy end to end game like it was last year. 16-14 in England’s favour, just a couple of points in it.

Prediction: 16-14 England win

France v Italy, Sunday, 15:00

France will be flying heading into this game after the great start they had last weekend being 17-0 up against England at half time.

The last time England were held scoreless for 40 minutes of Rugby was back in 1988, so that just shows you how good the French were in their first half of this Six Nations.

With Shaun Edwards as their new defence coach he has really brought that killer instinct to the team!

We all know how good France can be with their talented bunch of youngsters, but ultimately it was their discipline and work rate than won them the game last weekend in Paris.

Italy…… well what can I say. This team are up against it in every Six Nations and getting smashed by over 40 points by Wales just creates a negative vibe once again.

They are a team who seem to be making up the numbers. It is not nice to watch at times and when the score was 20-0 at half time against Wales, you know a team like Italy will never win the match and inevitably will roll over. 

I can’t see Italy closing the high handicap in this game, but France can beat it as they have so much power coming off the bench and so many athletes in form.

I can’t see anything else other than a strong French win of 35-7, however the weather is due to be horrendous so could make it tricky for France to get any momentum going. 

Prediction: 35-7 France win

Stephen

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Stephen Ferris

After a fine backrow career with Ulster and Ireland, Stephen Ferris will be sharing his thoughts on all the big rugby talking points here on Ladbrokes News, including the World Cup and Six Nations.