The Guinness Six Nations is reaching the crunch phase as we enter a penultimate round of action, with Wales the only candidates for a Grand Slam as the only remaining unbeaten side in the competition.
Victory over England has seen Warren Gatland’s squad take charge of the Six Nations, but Eddie Jones’ men and Ireland are hot on their heels with just three points separating the top three.
Leaders Wales kick off Round 4 with a testing visit to the Scottish capital, while England will be expected to pick up a bonus-point victory over Italy and Ireland will too be favourites to take down France in Dublin’s fair city.
Scotland v Wales
Saturday 9th March
2:15pm (UK time)
Round 4 commences on Saturday afternoon as Scotland host Wales at Murrayfield with the visitors hunting down an unexpected Grand Slam.
Gatland’s troops entered the 2019 bout of Europe’s premier competition as the third ranked side out of the contenders, but have risen to the fore, with a rousing win over England in Round 3.
Wales have retained a strong squad, while Scotland have omitted Greig Laidlaw from their starting XV – presumably as Gregor Townsend tests his squad depth in preparation for this year’s World Cup in Japan knowing their Six Nations hope are all but gone.
Although Wales are the overwhelming favourites on form and team selection, Scotland do have a habit of spoiling Six Nations parties, just ask England.
Game odds: Scotland 9/5 Draw 20/1 Wales 8/15
Ben says: Scotland to win by 3
England v Italy
Saturday 9th March
Twickenham Stadium, London
4:45pm (UK time)
After what will have been a heart-wrenching defeat for England, the 2017 Champions have the ideal opportunity to bounce back to form with the arrival of Italy to Twickenham.
Conor O’Shea’s Azzurri look set to retain their wooden spoon again this season and Jones’ England must claim a bonus-point victory in order to keep the pressure on Wales at the Six Nations summit.
Jones has named a hefty midfield, with both Ben Teo and Manu Tuilagi featuring, making for a muscular and pace-filled back-line, which should no issue in racing home four tries.
England must reassert their authority on the competition and there is no finer chance to do so than facing the perennial rock-bottom side on home soil.
Match odds: England 1/100 Draw 66/1 Italy 25/1
Ben says: England to win by 32
Ireland v France
Sunday 10th March
Aviva Stadium, Dublin
3pm (UK time)
The penultimate round of the 2019 Six Nations ends on Sunday afternoon as Ireland welcome France to Dublin’s Aviva Stadium, with Joe Schmidt’s men too seeking to keep pace with Wales at the top of the ladder.
France have picked up just the one victory so far in the competition, but have shown moments of sheer brilliance, but a resilient Ireland should not buckle to the French glimmers of hope.
An attritional kicking game has always been the favoured modus operandi for Ireland, but they will also need the prolific Jacob Stockdale to chalk up a few more tries to claim another bonus point.
France can never be ruled out, but Ireland have a Six Nations title they’re out to defend and momentum they are desperate to generate ahead of the Rugby World Cup.
Match odds: Ireland 1/6 Draw 33/1 France 5/1
Ben says: Ireland to win by 18