We make our predictions as round three of the 2015 Six Nations prepares to kick-off as the action steps up a notch…
1.Ireland to narrowly beat England in tactical master-class
Ireland so far haven’t looked quite as dominant as they did this time last year, yet they have still managed to triumph, even in difficult circumstances. If anything England are actually looking better than this time last year with plenty of free-flowing attacking rugby resulting in a fair haul of tries. In contrast Ireland have only managed two tries in two games – both of which came in the final quarter against Italy.
Despite this, the smart money has to be on Ireland this weekend. Not only do they have home advantage, but many of their key players are coming back to fitness and the impressive half-back pairing of Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton are firing. This means Joe Schmidt can select a strong side who fit his systems and allow Ireland to perfectly execute his game plan.
In contrast England are still fielding a relatively inexperienced side who whilst being tactically astute, don’t have quite the same ability to pin sides inside their own half. For this reason the smart money has to be on Ireland securing a narrow victory in a tight game that is decided by the boot. At the end of the day, who would your money be on from the tee – Ford or Sexton?
Prediction – Ireland to win by 6
2.Scotland to dominate Italy in an all-out try-fest
Both Scotland and Italy have shown so far in the Six Nations that they’re capable of playing some decent rugby and actually scoring tries. They have also demonstrated that defensively they can both be considered somewhat frail which all points to an exciting game packed full of plenty of tries and running rugby at every opportunity.
Whilst Scotland will miss the suspended Finn Russell, they still have enough talent, particularly in their backline, to threaten the Italian defence and get over the try line. Italy aren’t without their own problems when it comes to missing players as a number of key front-line players will be absent through injury including the likes of Michele Campagnaro and Martin Castrogiovanni.
Whilst there is the risk the game could end up being ground out with both teams trying not to lose, rather than trying to win, the new look Scotland under Vern Cotter are likely to try and take the game to Italy which should open it up a bit. Although it may lack the technical excellence of the Ireland England game, this has all the makings of the game of the weekend.
Prediction – Scotland by 12
3.Wales to grind out victory over France
Neither Wales of France have yet to full fire in the 2015 Six Nations as they’ve each ground out a narrow victory over Scotland and lost to England and Ireland respectively. The French in particular have been infuriating for Les Bleus fans who have watched a talented backline stifled by conservative tactics from the coaching side.
The victor in this match is likely to be the side that makes the fewest mistakes rather than the team that plays the best. If France give their backs a bit more freedom Wales could find them tough to match, however if they persist with the same conservative style it’s easy to see Wales keeping them at bay with a solid defensive display.
Given their respective performances against Scotland, the money would have to be on Wales who looked the more impressive side despite playing them in Edinburgh where as France had home advantage. The only thing likely to change this would be a moment of magic from someone like Wesley Fofana which could turn the game on its head.
Prediction – Wales by 5
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