The 6 Nations is back this weekend after a weeks break that felt far longer. We’ve been anxiously waiting. Waiting for the squad announcements, waiting for injuries to clear, waiting for boasts to be made and for the drama to build in what is sure to be another exciting weekend of 6 Nations Rugby. We’ve updated our fantasy 6 Nations teams and have examined the teams lining up to play this weekend for our our preview of Round 3 in the 6 Nations.
Scotland v Italy – Saturday 28th – KO 14:30
Scotland make 4 changes to the side that narrowly lost to Wales, some by necessity, others by choice. After failing to safely contest a highball in the Wales game, Finn Russell has been banned for two weeks by a board who deemed the potentially dangerous offence as more serious than the yellow he received at the time. Peter Horne has been given No. 10 duties in his stead and Tommy Seymour returns to the starting squad after being taken off early in the opening game against France. Scotland are also without star, Richie Gray, who injured his arm against Wales. Tim Swinson fills in for the 6ft 10in giant but his absence will be felt by the team.
In what could be the wooden spoon decider Scotland now face Italy, who have been unable to record a win so far this 6 Nations as well. Scotland will enter the game as favourites but will be cautious against a side that managed to get a fair few tries past the English, despite losing by a wide margin. If Scotland’s defence can hold up, and the penalties don’t leak as they have in the past two games, they should win comfortably.
rugbsytore.co.uk Prediction: 30 – 18 to Scotland
France v Wales – Saturday 28th – KO 17:00
Wales got their championship dreams back on track last round with an away win over Scotland. Now, an away win against France could put them firmly back in the running for the title. Obviously that is easier typed than done. Wales Captain, Sam Warburton explains the difficulties of facing a team like France in the video below:
The somewhat surprising defeat at the hands of the English in the first round seemed like it might have tripped Wales up for the whole tournament. With George North back on the squad, for his 50th cap, he will be looking to silence critics and instil confidence in the fans that he is still the best man for the job. Wales themselves have to prove they are still real contenders for the 6 Nations and beyond, the problem is proving that against France is no easy task.
The French lost narrowly last round against the Irish, as a home side they are even more dangerous. Their imapct bench now includes the likes of Bastareaud, who has the potential to run over any over tired Welsh players. Warren Gatland’s side were unable to hold up for the 80 minutes in the autumn and we think that might be the case here, close but the home side will get it.
rugbsytore.co.uk Prediction: 24- 21 to France
Ireland v England – Sunday 29th – KO 15:00
Ireland V England is being billed as on the biggest games of the tournament. The two favourites have yet to be defeated and this fixture could be key to deciding who takes the title. England have won the last 4 meetings between these two competitive teams but that might not be a reliable figure for this coming match. Ireland have been the team the team to beat, having not lost since the last time these teams met. Since then Ireland have beaten South Africa and Australia whilst England had a challenging summer against New Zealand and a disappointing Autumn series. For that reason, Ireland won’t be lacking in confidence at home against a team they haven’t beaten in 4 attempts.
Both teams have injury problems, with England probably having the worse of the two teams. Jamie Heaslip, one of the most recent injuries, is unable to play after being kneed in the back in the France game, although he usually bounces back quickly.
In what is likely to be another close game this weekend, we think the home advantage will win out in this matchup as well. Hopefully it won’t end in a 0-0 draw like this meeting in 1963:
rugbsytore.co.uk Prediction: 12-10 to Ireland