Wales v Italy
Wales are a very strong team with powerful strike runners such as Alex Cuthbert and George North, so a big win is defiantly on the cards. However don’t be fooled, I wouldn’t be too surprised if they start off slowly and Italy get and early lead, complacency in the Wales camp could prove a fundamental factor with who wins. Wales started slow last year and I’m sensing a repeat due to Italy’s fast start last year. Italy aren’t a bad team, and with Oquera guiding them, wales could find a bumpy ride. However I believe Wales’ natural talent and physicality will prove too much.
Head to head:
Oquera v Priestland. This isn’t going to be an ‘arm-wrestle’ game, so whoever controls the game and sets up the danger men outside will win. Also Orquera and Priestland have to kick out of hand well as possession will be vital for Wales, but Territory for Italy is also hugely significant.
Wales 32 – Italy 9. A brace of tries for George North.
France v England
‘Le crunch’ will be a massive occasion under the floodlights of the ‘Stade de France’. England have a very strong, mobile pack that could out run the heavy, yet slow France. Courtney Lawes’ ability to rattle fly half’s, in this case the debutant Jules Plisson, could cause the playmaker into mistakes, if the fly half goes, the team goes, Lawes is key. France do have a very dangerous centres, a strong scum and a hefty back row that could cause lots of problems for England, however the maturity shown by England to control games could be vital. If England want to win then they must run France’s big men ragged.
Head to Head:
Bastareaud v Burrell. If the English debutant can control the ‘beast’, then England are on for a winner. England’s centre combination failed in the autumn, thus causing, the entire back line to stutter. How Burrell plays alongside Twelvetrees is key, if Burrell can run round Bastareaud, but also keep up with the physicality then the game is there to win.
England 22 – France 18. A Jonny May try and a rolling maul to Bastareaud and Fofana’s tries.
Ireland v Scotland
Ireland’s performance v the Al Blacks was brilliant, but devastating, and can only be worthwhile if lessons are learnt. Scotland need a 10, 12, 13 combinations that works well, then they can be real force. If Scotland can work this out, then they can turn front foot ball into opportunities, which will be taken by the lethal back three. There are three aspect to attack, forming it, distributing it and finishing it, and they currently only have on off them, where the All Blacks and South Africa have all three. Ireland need to dictate and play at a high intensity, as they have the skill and fitness level to do this.
Head to Head:
Greig Laidlaw v Connor Murray. This game could well be a traditional Celtic arm wrestle, so whoever guides their forwards, controls the temps and produces good tactical kicking could well be the winner. Laidlaw should win this.
Ireland 18 – Scotland 9. Brian O’driscoll’s and Kearney’s tries to good for Laidlaw’s penalties.
1) Wales – Too Lethal in attack
2) England – Solid but hesitant backs
3) France – Inconsistency mixed with flair
4) Ireland – Mistakes and poor discipline
5) Italy – No cutting edge
6) Scotland – No attack and disorganised defence.