Live on BBC 1 & 2, RTE 2: Sat 14.30 & 17.00, Sun 15.00: England look to edge closer to a Six Nations Grand Slam with a win over Italy.
England got a tough job done in Wales last week and while they were expected to win by the majority, it was always going to be a tough fight down in the Millennium Stadium. That win pushes them into 5/2 with Coral to achieve a Grand Slam and 5/4 with Paddy Power to win outright.
Home to Italy with an unchanged side should present a much simpler task then and the bookies seem to agree; Betfred have 1/33 about an England win, an unbackable outright.
Italy, 20/1 at Sportingbet, are a solid unit on home territory, rarely losing by wide margins but that stat falls apart on the road; they conceded 108 in 3 away games in last year’s 6 Nations but they do get themselevs over the line. There’s no question England should run in a few tries but they rarely thrash anyone. Ladbrokes’ 10/11 quote about England with a -21 handicap seems just too much so go the other way and back Italy with a +21 start (10/11, Ladbrokes).
Later on Saturday, Scotland will look to overcome the Welsh at 4/6 (Boylesports). Scotland have really improved since the thrashing by New Zealand and they have named the same team that played valiantly in France last weekend.
Jamie Heaslip is a big boost for Ireland, returning to number 8, while France have had to shuffle the back line due to injury and the Irish could be under-estimated just a touch here. The handicappers are expecting a tight game, allowing just 3 points for Ireland at 10/11 (Boylesports) but go the whole way and back the Men In Green at 6/4 with Betdaq.
Sunday 13 February:
Ireland v France (15:00)