England v Wales, Saturday, 16:45
Wales will look at England’s game against Ireland and be thinking to themselves that the first thing they need to do is try to match them physically.
It seems Dan Biggar is 50/50 after injuring himself playing for Northampton, and that would be a huge loss if he doesn’t make it. Maybe his injury is one of the reasons why the Handicap is so high for this game.
I think both managers will be concentrating on their own teams in the lead up to the match, focusing on getting a performance that will get the job done. This is Wayne Pivac’s first major tournament in charge of Wales and I can see him wanting his players to go out there and express themselves.
His coaching style gives the players a bit of a free reign, and maybe trying to move this big heavy English pack around will give Wales a chance in this match.
They have got to win the collisions when they have the ball against England! Getting driven back by the energetic line speed won’t be the platform to attack from, as Ireland found out last week.
Eddie Jones was quite vocal before the tournament started that he wanted his team to be the best team in the world. England have used that initial defeat to France as a kick up the backside. They have fought well throughout this tournament, even though they haven’t been at their best at times.
They also showed the world what they are capable of in their game against Ireland with their physical dominance and a powerful display that makes it 3 from 3 against Ireland in recent games.
I can see Eddie Jones’s approach remaining the same as it has been, and Wayne Pivac wanting his team to go out and play a bit of Rugby and move this English team around. The weather supposed to be half decent in London; too, so fingers crossed we are in for a treat.
My best value bet this weekend would be for England to beat the high Handicap in this game.
Prediction: 32-14 England
Scotland v France, Sunday, 15:00
This game has really grabbed my attention. There is a lot on the line for this French team with the Grand Slam still very much alive. Would it shock me if Scotland beat France? Yes of course…but France have been unpredictable over the last number of years in this tournament so that makes me question my prediction.
However, they have been a lot more consistent this year, and with discipline, physicality and work rate they should run out winners.
Scotland played well in Rome; they really brought the game to the Italians. The score line flattered Italy in a way, 17-0, which they will be happy about. Scotland didn’t concede any points, or a try, and I think that is vitally important heading into this match because we know the French are a team who play with a lot of flare.
Adam Hastings has relished the opportunity of filling Finn Russell’s boots and he’ll be full of confidence after scoring a try against the Italians. He will be a key man for Scotland if they are to upset all the odds.
The Scottish lads have lots of potential, but we have been saying that for years. Maybe they will surprise everyone yet again and put in a performance their home fans will be proud of.
What can France take from their last number of games, especially their game against Wales? They have been very resilient and with their backs against the wall they have generally held out. That is something we haven’t said about a French team in the last decade; a breath of fresh air at last within French rugby.
The French are a team with a lot of young guys who seem to play with no fear and can be very dangerous. France are going to Murrayfield full of confidence.
They are the ones that are playing the most attractive brand of Rugby in the competition, along with England. They seem to have a lot of players on form so they will be fancying their chances in this game.
I think you would be a silly betting man to put your money on Scotland to win this match. It is going to be a tight game, but I can see France coming out on top.
Prediction: 19-24 France