This weekend's predictions!

Date published: February 8 2014

It's that time of week where we put our heads on the chopping block with our predictions.

It's that time of week where we put our heads on the chopping block and bring you Planet Rugby's predictions.

With the Six Nations off and running, there are huge clashes to be savoured and big scores to settle in Dublin and Edinburgh this weekend, while Italy look to build on their performance in Cardiff in Round One.

We also have a full card of Premiership, PRO12 and Top 14 action to whet the appetite; the net result being a plethora of opportunities to make some money – Paddy Power is the place to go.

Let's get started.

Six Nations:

Ireland v Wales: Despite the Calcutta Cup looming large on this weekend's fixture list, the clash in Dublin is the most eagerly-anticipated match of the tournament so far. In part thanks to BOD-gate, in part to the strength of both sides; it should be a huge contest. The odds reflect the tightness of the game by offering decent prices for both sides to win by 1-12 points; 13/10 for Ireland, 13/8 for Wales.

Ireland made a hefty total of 434 metres from 137 carries – thanks in part to poor Scottish defence – while Wales' tackle completion rate was impressive at 94%. That suggests a case of irresistible force versus immovable object; but in fact, the game is more likely to be decided by whichever gains the upper hand at the breakdown and set-piece.

In the try-scorer markets, Jonny Sexton is well-priced at 22/1 to bag the game's opener, having beaten five Scottish defenders on Sunday. Alex Cuthbert is an ever-present threat at 8/1, and Andrew Trimble is also worth a punt at 10/1. This isn't likely to be a one-sided affair, but we reckon the hosts should just shade it. Our shout is Ireland by about 4 points.

Scotland v England: Two teams licking their wounds after Round One face off for the Calcutta Cup in Edinburgh. England's late loss to France will have stung, while Scotland's second-half showing in Dublin was extremely worrying. England enjoyed over 65% of the possession and territory in Paris, and Scotland enjoyed similar statistical dominance in the first forty minutes at the Aviva Stadium.

These Edinburgh matches have produced only one try since 2004, and with the Murrayfield pitch in its present condition, we should expect lots of straight-running ball-carrying from the likes of Billy Vunipola and Dave Denton. Backing no try-scorer at 10/1 is worth a few quid, with Mike Brown probably the best-priced to score first at 9/1. No Scotland try at 11/10 doesn't pay out big bucks, but remains a tempting option. Tipping Brown to score first and England to win (-10) is also noteworthy at 14/1.

If you fancy the Scots to spring a surprise and record their first win over the Auld Enemy since 2008, backing them to triumph by 1-5 points at 7/1 is your best bet. We don't see a high-scoring game, and we don't see Scotland's penalty-fest victory coming to fruition. England by 9 points.

France v Italy: France must build on their dramatic Le Crunch victory with a win over an Italy side that did themselves proud in Cardiff. The hosts' defence a week ago was relatively poor; they recorded a tackle completion rate of 82%, and did not look like a team with the fitness and wherewithal to score a super winning try. Very French indeed.

In Cardiff, referee John Lacey did not cover himself in glory at scrum-time, with a few interesting calls either way. Les bleus' scrummage was dominant, however, disrupting England no less than three times and securing all of their own put-ins. Yoann Huget bagged a brace last week, and he is priced at 5/1 for the opening try; another two-time scorer in Round One, Michele Campagnaro has proved the tournament's surprise package thus far, and is certainly worth a punt at 33/1. Louis Picamoles, Yannick Nyanga and Sergio Parisse are always worth a look here; they are rated at 12/1, 18/1 and 33/1 respectively.

For all the Italians impressed in the curtain-raiser, we really can't see them matching the French up front, or coping with the likes of Huget and Wesley Fofana out wide. That's why we're tipping France by 14.


Sale Sharks v Gloucester: The Sharks welcome troubled Gloucester to the AJ Bell Stadium on Friday, with the handicap of (-5) for the hosts looking fair at 10/11, and a winning margin of 1-12 worth a few quid at 5/4. Sale's dominance up front and prowess out wide should win the day; we think they'll win by about 8 points.

Other SuperBru Aviva Premiership Predictions:

Worcester Warriors v Leicester Tigers: Tigers by 18
Bath v Newcastle Falcons: Bath by 12
Saracens v London Irish: Saracens by 13
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints: Saints by 7
Harlequins v London Wasps: Quins by 6


Ulster v Ospreys: Even without their Ireland contingent, it's tough to see past the Ulstermen at Ravenhill against an Ospreys side bereft of much of their starting pack. There is no Justin Tipuric, Alun Wyn Jones, Ian Evans or Adam Jones for the visitors, which means the tight exchanges should be rather one-sided.

With Ruan Pienaar, Craig Gilroy, Johann Muller and John Afoa in their ranks, Ulster to win by 13 or more points looks safe at 10/11; a 16-20 winning margin is also good value at 13/2. Gilroy and Jared Payne are the two that stand out in the first try-scorer market, priced at 8/1 each. We can't see anything other than a comfortable home win, here, which is why we're backing Ulster by 15 points.

Other SuperBru Pro12 Predictions:

Treviso v Scarlets: Scarlets by 4
Munster v Cardiff Blues: Munster by 14
Dragons v Edinburgh: Edinburgh by 5
Glasgow Warriors v Connacht: Glasgow by 10
Zebre v Leinster: Leinster by 15

Top 14:

Toulon v Biarritz: Heineken Cup champions Toulon are not enjoying the best of domestic seasons for all their glamour and cash, still some way off top spot.

Their woes pale in comparison with those of Biarritz, however, who remain rooted to the bottom of the Top 14 table.

A winning margin of 21-25 for the hosts looks good at 9/2, while an outside punt on Toulon to win to nil is tempting at 13/2.

We don't see anything other than a hammering for the struggling Biarritz, with Toulon triumphing by about 23 points.

Predictions compiled by Jamie Lyall (@JLyall93) and James While.