Planet Rugby

This weekend's predictions!

21st February 2014 08:35

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France v Wales Jamie Roberts Maxime Machenaud

Tussle: Wales v France

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

The Six Nations is back with a bang this weekend as we reach the midway point in this year's tournament. Ireland travel to Twickenham in search of a Triple Crown; France to Cardiff seeking to further their Grand Slam bid; and Scotland to Rome where anything more than a narrow win will be a bonus.

It's an action-packed weekend as Super Rugby gets into full swing too with the Australian and New Zealand franchises joining the party.

Naturally, this means there are betting opportunities aplenty, and Paddy Power offers a great range of rugby markets.

Let's get started.

Six Nations

Wales v France: A fine way to kick us off this weekend, and a match that is pretty tough to call. Wales have been stagnant and uninspiring thus far in 2014, while the French are showing flashes of the va-va-voom we all love. Immediately, the outright betting catches the eye - the visitors are definitely worth some cash at 6/4 to win with Paddy Power. You can also get them (+3) at evens, or at 2/1 to win by 1-12 points.

A narrow Welsh victory by 1-5 pays out slightly better than treble your stake at 7/2, but we'd recommend a few bob on France by the same margin: you'll get odds of 4/1. The usual suspects are all well-priced in the try-scorer markets: Alex Cuthbert sits shortest at 8/1 to score first, while Wesley Fofana and Yoann Huget are at 12/1. More intriguing, perhaps, is the tournament's top carrier, Louis Picamoles at 18/1 and partner-in-crime Yannick Nyanga at 25/1. It's always risky to talk the French up too much, far less label them with a favourites' tag away from home. But we reckon they'll do it against a Welsh side short on ideas and confidence, and by around four points.

Italy v Scotland: This isn't an easy one to predict either. On paper, the sides are very even. Neither's current form is exactly encouraging, though the hosts have more reasons for optimism after Scotland proved the epitome of turgid in Rounds One and Two. At least the Azzurri have scored a couple of tries, anyway, though a try-less game pays out even money for those tempted. Backing Italy by 1-5 or 6-10 would be the intelligent thing to do - returning 10/3 and 7/2 - but we reckon the Scots might sneak this one, and their price of 9/2 for a 1-5 margin is tempting if apparently silly. They'll need a massively improved showing, but if they can weather the Italian storm up front, we fancy them to overcome poor form and an awful losing run in Rome. Scotland by three.

England v Ireland: Probably the clash of the weekend sees Ireland make a beeline for the English capital to avenge last year's Dublin defeat. Paddy Power again rate the visiting team as 6/4 outsiders, which is a tempting price for an Irish side that demolished Wales a fortnight ago. That extends to 4/1 if you think they'll get the win by 1-5 points. England, though less experienced, are no pushovers and will fancy their chances of overcoming a side they toppled on home turf a year ago.

The performances of Billy Vunipola and Courtney Lawes are of paramount importance up front, while Danny Care must continue his rich vein of form against British and Irish Lion Conor Murray. In the try-scorer markets, Mike Brown (12/1) is probably playing the best rugby of his life just now, and has bagged two in two games so far, while Jamie Heaslip (20/1) is always a tempting punt. This should be a real blood 'n' guts affair, but we think Ireland's nous and disciplined rugby under Joe Schmidt will see them to a four point victory.

Super Rugby:

Brumbies v Reds: Saturday's Australian Conference opener should be a cracker, with both teams able to call upon a plethora of Wallaby stars. Matt Toomua v Quade Cooper at 10 will be awesome, while the likes of Stephen Moore, James Horwill and Will Genia also lock horns. Backing the hosts to live up to their favourites tag and win by 6-10 or 11-15 pays out 7/2 and 13/2 respectively, while Henry Speight is a good option for first tryscorer at 9/1. The visitors' best bets come in the form of Lachie Turner (12/1) and the elusive Cooper, who is a generous 18/1 to slither over and bag the game's first five-pointer. We can't see anything other than a home win, here, and probably by about nine points.

Other Super Rugby predictions:

Cheetahs v Bulls: Bulls by 5
Highlanders v Blues: Blues by 12
Sharks v Hurricanes: Sharks by 15
Lions v Stormers: Stormers by 3
Waratahs v Force: Waratahs by 5

Good luck!

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