The concluding round of the RBS 6 Nations 2013 has finally arrived and Cardiff will be buzzing ahead of the clash of the heavyweights to decide this year’s champions. There isn’t a lot to say about last week’s matches and the encounters were competitive but lacked consistent amounts of entertainment factor. The tournament got off to a flying start in round one, with tries a plenty, however, since then they have really dried up, so the tournament needs a colourful finale. Additionally, this will be the last international opportunity for the British and Irish Lions hopefuls to perform, so there is no doubt the intensity levels will be high, but if you are a rugby fan don’t miss Wales versus England on Saturday night.
It has been a pleasure previewing this year’s competition for you and although the tipping hasn’t always gone to plan, I hope you found it an enjoyable read. At the end of the day, that is rugby, one of the hardest sports to tip consistently. In recent years, as teams have levelled the entertainment value has gone up but tipping has become more challenging. Enjoy the finale and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@S15_TheProfits) for game coverage, expert insight or just for a chat for the rest of the rugby season.
Best Bet 1: England to win @ $1.77 – Sportsbet
Best Bet 2: Scotland +12 @ $1.92 – Sportsbet
Italy ($2.76) versus Ireland ($1.45)
Italy welcome the battling Irish to Stadio Olimpico in the first of Saturday’s matches, where both teams will be looking to finish off the tournament on a high. It has been a 6 Nations to forget for both countries and together they have had very similar tournaments. Italy was impressive first up when they defeated the French and Ireland managed to bury the Wales in Cardiff in round one, but since then they have collectively remained winless, although Ireland managed to scrape a draw last week against Les Bleus. It must be pointed out that the Italians also play much better after a bye week, so perhaps there are some tired players after a pretty long northern hemisphere winter.
The Azzurri were defiant in defeat last week as they managed to hold the English try-less at Rugby HQ in London. The defensive structures that have been implemented by Omar Mouneimne have been nothing short of sensational in recent seasons, as the Italians are no more the easy beats of the competition. Australian-born Luke Mclean scored the only try of the match in a contest dominated by penalties and goal kicks.
Ireland would’ve been disappointed with their result last week against the French as they lead 13 – 3 at half time thanks to a Jamie Heaslip try and some accurate kicking from fly half, Paddy Jackson. As the clock winded down and the French only able to add a penalty to the scoreboard, the game was there for the taking. Form number eight, Louis Picamoles opted to tap and go close the Irish line and his size was simply too much for a tiring Irish defence. Frederic Michalak nervously converted the try and a match marred with errors played in appalling conditions finally came to an end in a deadlock, 13 – 13.
Coach Declan Kidney is under pressure to retain his job and he would want nothing more than a convincing win in Rome. Additionally, players in the Irish team will also be looking to put in that one extra performance with the British and Irish Lions squad announcement not far away. The Irish have never lost to the Italians in the RBS 6 Nations, but the Italians are a different proposition at home. In the end, I’m expecting a wounded Irish team to come away with a narrow win, but once again the fight, grit and resolve that the Italians now possess with be on show which is great for world rugby.
Predicted result: Ireland to win @ $1.45 – Sportsbet
Wales ($2.07) versus England ($1.77)
All eyes will be on Millennium Stadium in Cardiff as we will witness the match of the tournament, the grand finale, the match that will decide the kings of rugby in Europe. In what should be a spectacular encounter, the reigning RBS 6 Nations champions Wales will welcome the top of the table England. Both teams will receive an arousing reception given the success that they have achieved during this year’s tournament. Although not always convincing, both teams have put themselves in a position to win the silverware, but it is important to note that Wales need to win by 7 points or more to prevail.
Uncharacteristically, Wales headed into the tournament with seven consecutive defeats, which was far from the highs that they achieved at the Rugby World Cup and last year’s 6 Nations. Ireland added another loss to the tally in round one, but since then the winds have changed. Wales have beaten France, Italy and Scotland away, which is not an easy thing to do and one challenge remains. Last week, in a match dominated by the whistle, Wales managed to score the only try of the match and Leigh Halfpenny had seven penalty kicks sail over for a total tally of 23 points. Sam Warburton was immense as captain and at ruck time and looks to be regaining the form he showed in last year’s competition. He also picked up the man of the match award in the process.
Last week, Toby Flood was recalled to the England team after incumbent fly half Owen Farrell was nursing a thigh injury. The accuracy off his booth was important in the outcome of the match given they failed to cross the chalk. In another match that never really threatened to get going, both teams created some opportunities but failed to capitalise which made for some very dull viewing. This week, England has selected one of their strongest sides of the tournament and coach Stuart Lancaster has done an exceptional job to keep the team moving forward after demolishing the All Blacks late last year.
It is not surprising that England are slight favourites for this match given their impressive run of victories, but will England win the grand slam or will Wales mount a surprise title defence? It is one of the harder matches of the tournament to pick, but given Wales handicap, they may look to push that extra pass and England are good enough to capitalise. England hasn’t won the Grand Slam since 2003, but I think this is their year and you can expect a large contingent to be selected in the British and Irish Lions squad if they win.
Predicted result: England to win at $1.77 – Sportsbet
Best Bet: England to win at $1.77 – Sportsbet
France ($1.13) versus Scotland ($6.05)
The final match of the tournament will see the French host a Scottish team that have put up some impressive performances in this year’s RBS 6 Nations. The French have been dreadful on all accounts and given the talent on their player roster, it is fair to say that all of us expected a lot more from them. Many pundits predicted France to win the tournament, but how wrong were they. The odds on France clinching the wooden spoon would have been astronomical and if there is anyone out there that got on it – respect. They would still have to lose this match for that to be the case, but it has been a disappointing campaign.
As aforementioned, the Scottish game last week was one of the worst I have watched in a long time. Both players and referees contributed to a dull encounter, dominated by goal kicks and poor discipline. There is not much more that I want to say about that game and this week’s encounter surely can’t stoop that low. Much the same for the France versus Ireland game, there was simply not a lot to write home about, which sets up an intriguing battle this week. Wesley Fofana and Mathieu Bastareaud form an exciting centre combination and Thierry Dusatoir and Louis Picamoles form two thirds of the French back row. Scotland have a dangerous back three in Hogg, Maitland and Visser and the forwards are workhorses.
Historically, France have dominated these encounters and have only lost on five occasions out of 21 attempts. The last time France actually won in this competition was against Scotland in round two of last year’s tournament. Adding to this, Scotland have a dismal away record having lost seven consecutive matches. The French owe their supporters nothing more than something special and I think this could be the game that they click and put up an impressive performance. Here’s hoping anyway. However, there is a high chance of rain and if this is the case, you would expect the boot to once again dominate, so we would have to consider the large handicap on Scotland.
Predicted result: France to beat Scotland Italy @ 1.13 – Sportsbet
Best Bet: Scotland +12 @ $1.92 – Sportsbet