Six Nations Preview – Round 5

The Guinness Six Nations reaches what promises to be a thrilling climax on Saturday, with all eyes on Cardiff as Wales hunt down a Grand Slam and European bragging rights.

Undefeated after four rounds of action, Warren Gatland’s Wales enter the final round with destiny in their hands – knowing victory over Ireland will secure Six Nations silverware and the coveted Grand Slam.

Failure to overcome the Emerald Isle, though, opens the door to both Ireland and England who are just two and one points adrift respectively.

A win for Wales would ensure three bonus points for the Grand Slam, meaning at least seven points in light of victory, securing the crown.

Italy v France
Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Saturday 16th March
12:30 (UK Time)

Round 5 begins with a battle of the base as rock-bottom Italy welcome France to Rome’s Stadio Olimpico with little but pride on the line.

France have displayed glimmers of brilliance, while Conor O’Shea’s long-term project to advance Italian rugby is make steady progress.

France have just one win to their name and would be expected to double their tally, but Italy have been competitive in many areas this season – could this be the time for them to claim a first Six Nations won of the campaign after being winless all last year?

The Azzurri have passion on their side and despite the glitz and glamour of Les Bleus, it could be time for Italian rugby to start to believe.

Match odds: Italy 11/4 Draw 25/1 France 3/10

Italy to win by 5

Wales v Ireland
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

Saturday 16th March
14:45 (UK Time)

All eyes will be on the central fixture of the final day as Wales host Ireland in what is set up to a humdinger of a showdown.

There is no doubting Wales made a remarkable start to the Six Nations, while Ireland were slovenly, but the tide has been turning in recent weeks.

Wales were undeniable bruised by their skirmish with England and Gatland’s men will be showing signs of wear and tear, while Ireland have risen into the competition and Joe Schmidt’s side are just about hitting full straps.

Wales have history on the line and will be desperate stamp their authority, but defending champions Ireland will seldom wish to relinquish their crown and the men in green could well stand top of the table by later afternoon.

Match odds: Wales 4/5 Draw 20/1 Ireland 6/5 

Ireland to win by 7

England v Scotland
Twickenham Stadium, London

Saturday 16th March
17:00 (UK Time)

By kick-off the mathematics will be simple for England – it will either be game on for Eddie Jones’ men to eclipse Ireland – or game over with Wales already crowned champions.

Scotland have a very recent history of derailing English campaigns, having slated the favourites in 2018, but Jones has a strength in depth this season which will prove much harder to overcome.

Scotland have had their moments in the 2019 competition, but last week’s omission of Greig Laidlaw serves to highlight an unsettled camp.

England have been scoring for fun throughout the Six Nations and should be out to claim another bonus-point triumph, which will secure Six Nations triumph if Ireland win.

Scotland’s strength of display has been lacking this season and England, by five o’clock, could indeed be tournament favourites and champions by the end of an action-packed day.

Match odds: England 1/14 Draw 33/1 Scotland 8/1   

England to win by 18

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