There’s a four way battle emerging as this year’s Six Nations championship hits the home straight, with Ireland, England, Wales and France all well placed to secure the title this year.
All four teams are locked on four points with a double-header of games over the next two weekends having the ultimate decision on who wins one of the tightest Six Nations in recent years.
Ireland v Italy Betting Tips
Ireland will be looking to push home their slight advantage as table toppers this weekend as they host winless Italy at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Josef Schmidt has turned around the fortunes of the Irish, who finished fifth last season, with them now leading the championship on points difference. This is a factor which could determine the winner come next weekend, and the Irish will be looking for a big win to boost the gap between them and the other title contenders.
The hosts make just one change to their starting XV from their 10-13 defeat to England last time out, with Iain Henderson coming in for the in-form flanker Peter O’Mahony who is out with a hamstring injury.
For Italy, a calf strain keeps captain Sergio Parisse out whilst Alessandro Zanni’s 58-game streak without missing a game comes to an end as he’s out with a knee strain. Marco Bortolami and Paul Derbyshire come in.
BET OF THE DAY – An Ireland winning margin of 11-20 points is good value with Paddy Power at 5/2.
This match is live on BBC One from 2:30pm on Saturday.
Scotland v France Betting Tips
Then France travel to Murrayfield to face a Scotland side whose biggest problem this year has been their lack of firepower, with only two tries in their first three games.
The hosts make three changes with Kelly Brown returning as captain, whilst David Denton comes into the back row instead of Ryan Wilson who has tonsillitis and Geoff Cross is preferred to Moray Low.
The French need a win on Saturday with a possible winner takes-all clash against Ireland in Paris next Saturday.
Coach Phillipe Saint-Andre has rung the changes in the wake of their 27-6 defeat to Wales a fortnight, with Louis Picamoles being one of seven men axed from that squad.
Catch this one live on BBC One from 5pm.
England v Wales Betting Tips
Probably the most crucial game of the weekend sees second placed England take on third placed Wales at Twickenham on Sunday, with the loser likely to out of contention after the weekend.
Ben Morgan comes in for Sstuart Lancaster’s side, replacing the injured Billy Vunipola at number eight.
Jonathan Davies makes his first appearance for Wales since November after recovering from a chest injury whilst Alan Wyn Jones returns following a foot infection and Jake Ball replaces Luke Charteris.
This game is live on BBC One from 3pm on Sunday.
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