Six Nations Week 1 Betting Preview
England V Italy – 3pm Twickenham
With the recalls of Mark Cueto, Harry Ellis, Andy Goode and Mike Tindall (Tindall is now out injured) England seem to have put ideas of experimenting on hold for the moment, this shows that they are not taking the Italians lightly and the result will mean far more than the performance. The Italians meanwhile will be looking to build on the positive Six Nations showing from 2008 when they pushed England all the way in a 23-19 defeat, it should be a physcial encounter with the Italians forward power not to be underestimated. The English pack know they will have to be at their best on saturday afternoon.
Ireland V France – Sat 5pm Croke Park
Two years after a cruel 20-17 late defeat to the French at Croke Park the Irish will be looking to put the record straight this year. Declan Kidney overseeing his first Six Nations will send his team out as favourites for this fixture, they have also received a timely boost with Rob Kearney being passed fit to play. The Irish have a settled side now and have refound the old togetherness again under Kidney, whereas the French under Marc Lievremont seem to have gone back to basics with the recall of Sale lock Sebastien Chabal showing that experimentation is on the back burner for the time being.
Scotland V Wales – Sun 3pm Murrayfield
Wales – who are looking to claim back-to-back titles – have had their plans slightly upset with the withdrawal of Gavin Henson, his place will go to the Cardiff Blues centre Tom Shanklin. Wales enter the tourament as favourites but a bad omen for them is they have never lost a Six Nations game in which Henson has started. Scotland are a hard one to call, in the Autumn Internationals they showed signs of improvement but can they sustain that promise throughout a tough Six Nation. Coach Frank Hadden is under fire for a controversial team selection. The Scots are never more dangerous than when their backs are against the wall. This one will be a watching brief for me this weekend.
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