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Pitchside with Ferris: the ‘make or break’ England v Ireland, Wales v France & more

| 21.02.2020

England v Ireland, Sunday, 15:00

This is definitely the game I am most looking forward to watching this weekend!

England had a good win against Scotland and if they can beat Ireland in this game, destiny is in their own hands. This game is really make or break for them. If they lose, the Championship is gone. Whereas if they win, they are back in the mix!

We haven’t seen England play to their full potential yet. The storm in Scotland really put a halt to any type of Rugby being played, that game was about grinding it out. I am expecting a much more improved England side who will be putting Ireland under a lot of pressure in this game.

They smoked Ireland by over 50 points in the summer and they will draw confidence from that performance going into this weekend’s game.

Ireland have been performing well in patches. In their first game against Scotland, the better team ended up losing. But this is what happens when you have experienced players like Johnny Sexton on the pitch. They know how to dig deep when the team isn’t at its best, and this is a great quality to have in team environment. Win at all costs!

If Ireland put in a performance like they did two years ago when winning the grand slam at Twickenham, they win this game. If they play like they have done in their first two games of the Six Nations, they lose.

It’s fine margins at the highest level of international rugby and fingers crossed we get a game of rugby that entertains us all.

I can see England getting on top of Ireland very early in this match to sow the seed of doubt. I reckon the home side will end up beating the Handicap too.

Prediction:England 28 – 18 Ireland.

Italy v Scotland, Saturday, 14:15

Scotland are heading into this game with two losing bonus points. And you think people would fancy Scotland to put in a good performance here.

But instead, they are too busy talking about what’s happening for Scotland off the pitch with how Finn Russell isn’t getting on with head coach Gregor Townsend. The never-ending vicious circle that’s sure to be having an impact on the whole squad.

Scotland captain, Stuart Hogg made a couple of uncharacteristic errors in the first two matches, which has for me, summed up Scottish rugby over the last year. Not good enough.

A very strong performance is required in this game go get a victory, and this could relieve some of that unwanted media attention. Well at least for another week anyway! It feels that if Scotland lose this test match then Gregor Townsends reign of Scotland could be over before the 6 nations Championship ends.

Italy can take a lot of confidence from their game against France. They put in a resilient performance and looked dangerous in attack when given the time and space. Italy showed they can mix it with the big teams for large patches, but sadly it always felt inevitable that the French would win while playing in third gear.

Italy can be dangerous in how they like to play a loose game, however when they come up against a structured team, they tend to go into their shells and force silly errors. Most of these errors are usually around their discipline.

But will Scotland get back to playing with more structure?!! I hope they don’t because it would make for a very entertaining match for all of us neutrals.

I can’t look past Scotland when it comes down to who will score the first try. Somebody like Stuart Hogg could make amends for the couple of errors he had in the first two games. Having gone back to Exeter and scoring a good try on his week off, this could give him the chance to show he’s bouncing back. A real quality player who looks like a man who is feeling the pressure leading this Scotland side.

The cream always rises to the top – or does it?

I can see Scotland putting in a performance and wiping the slate clean. If they lose this game, they are probably going to get the wooden spoon and that could be something Gregor Townsend could lose his job over! I believe in Scotland to turn things around, so I am going to predict them to beat the Handicap.

Prediction: Italy 15-27 Scotland.

Wales v France, Saturday, 16:45

This is a very tricky game for France, they really must up their performance from their last game against Italy. Although with Shaun Edwards as their defense coach you can see a difference in the team as he seems to have got them working as a unit more often.

Now equipped with these defensive systems and a lot more energy and hunger, France are a harder team to break down. You wouldn’t expect them to roll over against Wales, but you never know what we could get from the French week in, week out.

Wales had missed some opportunities against Ireland where they kicked to the corner and should have taken points. They can’t afford to be casual in their decision making two games on the bounce. There are also some injury concerns around who is going to play out-half, hopefully Dan Biggar will be fit and ready to go!

The Welsh need to be more clinical and ruthless in their performance to send this unbeaten French team back to Paris with their tales between their legs.

Principality Stadium is a tough place to go which several teams have found out over the last few years. I can see Wales getting a result in this game.

If Josh Adams is fit, I would be choosing him as first try scorer. A hat-trick against Italy and most tries scored at the Rugby World Cup means it’s hard to bet against!

Alternatively, Hadleigh Parks who is a crash ball merchant and brings a lot of physicality to the game. He will be looking to make up for his nightmare error two weeks ago against Ireland.

Prediction: Wales 25 – 20 France.

My bets for round three of the Six Nations

Treble:
Italy 15 – 27 Scotland
Wales 25 – 20 France
England 28 – 18 Ireland

Best value bet:
My best value bet this weekend would be to stay away from the Handicaps and go with three wins, England, Wales and Scotland!

Stephen

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Author

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.