Six Nations Preview Round 4

The Six Nations returns following a two-week break with the Calcutta Cup match-up at Twickenham between England and Scotland the highlight of round 4.

England remain unbeaten under Eddie Jones – who took charge in late 2015, but have been far from spectacular in 2017 thus far – indeed they have only just managed to overcome France, Wales and most recently, and most surprisingly, Italy.

England will equal New Zealand’s world record of winning 18 Test matches in-a-row with the victory, but Jones is looking for an improved performance against Scotland – who have been a real surprise package of the tournament so far, with wins over Ireland and Wales already recorded.

“I don’t think you’ve ever heard me say we’re on a roll. We’ve won 17 games in a row and we’re not on a roll. We want to keep the Calcutta Cup here,” said Jones.

“They are a really well-coached side and everything is coming together for them.”

One major boost for England is the surprising return of brilliant back-rower Billy Vunipola – he was not expected to be fit enough to play any part in the Six Nations, but he returned for Saracens last week and is now he has been named on the replacements bench for the club.

Scotland have not beaten England since March 2008 and indeed they have not won south of the border since 1983.

The weekend’s matches kick-off on Friday evening with Wales hosting Ireland – and both teams are unchanged, which is certainly something of a surprise for the Welsh given their humbling at Murrayfield last time out.

Ireland eased to a win over France and that means another start for highly-rated young centre Garry Ringrose.

In Rome, Italy were buoyed by their excellent display in England last time out and they host France.

The brings you exclusive reaction and insight on every game from Inside Rugby’s Stuart Watkins and BoyleSports’ Leon Blanche.

Wales v Ireland 20:05 Friday March 10th

MATCH ODDS: Wales 6/4 Draw 25/1 Ireland 8/13
STUART SAYS: I have a sneaky suspicion that Wales could very well nick this, or even a draw. In Cardiff, under the lights and roof, the atmosphere will be electric. Wales have not played too well so far but they need to get back in the groove and on this occasion this will edge it. Everyone wants something to be riding on that final game in Dublin for England v Ireland, but I think Wales could spoil the party. 
Probably the toughest match to call all weekend but with Murray, Sexton and Ringrose, think the Irish could just come out on top and take this by one score – but it will be very close either way.
This always looked a tricky game and the roof is shut too, so this is going to be a fantastic atmosphere. Wales will be licking their wounds after that loss in Scotland and it is a big, big game. Ireland will just want to get this win but I do think that the Irish can cover the handicap which is -3.

Italy v France 13:30 Saturday March 11th

MATCH ODDS: Italy 7/1 Draw 66/1 France 1/16
STUART SAYS: Italy will always make life difficult for any team that goes to Rome, but often the case the team will have too much for them and I think that is the case here. The England performance gives them a boost and I think they will try something different against France – but they will be ready for it and they will win.
Italy had a good game plan against England – but France will be a different proposition for Connor O’Shea’s men and fully expect a big French win here, in excess of 20 points.
We have the handicap at +18 for France here, which has come in following Italy’s display against England. Italy will have to try and frustrate France for as long as they can. I fully expect France to win but I think Italy could hold on for the handicap win.

England v Scotland 16:00 Saturday March 11th

MATCH ODDS: England 2/11 Draw 33/1 Scotland 4/1
STUART SAYS: This will be tight, England are not playing wonderfully well at the moment. This will not be a walk-over and Scotland big players are playing well at the moment. I think England will just have a little too much strength in-depth but it will certainly be close.
England will be too strong, their replacements or ‘finishers’ as Jones like to call them will make the difference with the Vunipola brothers, Teo’o, Care and Watson etc – England should take this by close to 10 I think.
I think Scotland at +12 is really interesting. They have played so well, the players have responded to the management and this will be a big test going to one of the best team’s in the world. England, though, whilst not being at their best they keep getting the results and that is the sign of a very good team.

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