SIX NATIONS: As we just about survive the first weekend without 6 Nations Rugby, fast approaching is what could be the last chance for someone to derail England’s Grand Slam hopes.
Warren Gatland will see this weekend as possibly one of the biggest in recent times for Wales as they if successful could not only cancel England’s celebrations but line themselves up to receive full honours from this year’s tournament. The men in red have not gone unbeaten in a 6 Nations in 7 years and being the head coach’s final year what better time to break that long wait.
Eddie Jones will be confident in his team as they showed no signs of slowing down against France in the last round with Johnny May completing a hat-trick inside 30 minutes, admittedly the French it’s safe to say did not put up much of a fight as it appeared that backfield defending was no existent and Farrell being the experienced kicker he is truly took advantage of this.
It’s hard to measure Wales ability going into round 3 as they fielded a relatively second string team against Italy resting some key players in time for the upcoming clash with their neighbour’s. Wales do have home advantage this time around and as many opponents in the past have learned Cardiff is far from an easy place to travel to and get a result. I think if Wales can get a quick start without giving England an early try they may be in with a chance but it’s hard to compete with the momentum that Jones’ men seem to be carrying into every game.
Looking onto the other fixtures in round 3 France take on Scotland in Paris and after an impressive first half against Ireland in the last round Scotland will be confident that they can inflict another blow to the French men. There is a concern as one of the Scottish stars, Stuart Hogg was substituted early on in the game 2 weekends ago with a suspected shoulder injury thus putting him out of the rest of the tournament but Scottish fans shouldn’t worry too much as the young Kinghorn looks like a promising prospect in the back line and is sure to cause some damage when it comes to attacking their opponents weak points.
In terms of Italy v Ireland it’s a good chance for some of the younger names in Schmidt’s team to show what they can do. Joey Carbery will relish the chance to get some well-earned minutes in a green jersey in his favoured position and could be fairly confident in dotting down some decent tries like he has for Munster this season. As much as Italy would love to repeat their famous win against Ireland back in 2013 it is highly unlikely as Ireland’s young stars will look to impress the head coach in the hope to secure a spot in his World Cup squad later on this year. It wouldn’t be wrong to assume Ireland will secure the bonus point but Italy certainly won’t sit back either as this season has seen them put a good number of scores on their oppositions.
Josh Graves, BETDAQ
This is the outright market heading into round 3.