Wales v Italy
Head and heart agree on this, this week! Wales to win. I’m hoping that Gatland has thrashed enough sense into the team this week to enable us to go out and batter the Italians. The reappearance of Gethin Jenkins, Mike Phillips & Ryan Jones is a massive boost and they’ll all be keen to make a huge impression in their final Six Nations game of the season. Italy will be hurting after last week’s defeat to the French, despite scoring a couple of good individual tries. But I can’t see them winning this. Last game, the stars back, 72,500 people cheering? Wales by 20.
Ireland v Scotland
I think Croke Park will have a massive effect on this one. Had it been at Murrayfield, I would have tentatively suggested a Scottish win, but not here. If England had the backs that Ireland do, they would have gone on to win last week, and Ireland’s forwards are probably the best (as a unit) in the championship this year. If Jonny Sexton can land his penalties, I see this as an easy victory for Ireland, by 12 points.
France v England
Visiting the Stade de France, with the French chasing a Grand Slam, while you are struggling for form. Not the best of situations for England to be in! France should, technically, walk it. But England always put up a great fight against the French. I think it’ll be fairly tight early on, with Flutey & Tindall having to marshall the rampaging runs of Bastareaud (something they should be able to manage, I reckon). England’s back row are going to have to be on top form to compete with France’s scurries from the base of the breakdowns, but the forwards should be fairly well matched elsewhere. England will, however, have to cope with the late loss of their captain, Borthwick, who has been replaced by Lewis Moody as leader for the day. France showed their professionalism last week by going for easy three points where available, even when they were 25 points ahead, a lesson they appear to have learnt from the success of the Southern Hemisphere teams. I’m going for France to wear down England and win by 10 points.