Planet Rugby

This weekend's predictions!

31st January 2014 13:49

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Try scorer: Louis Picamoles

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

This week's focus is purely on the opening round of the Six Nations, with Scotland, England and Italy on the road to face Ireland, France and champions Wales.

We'll quickly look at overall odds for the tournament before dissecting the odds for each match this weekend. If you're looking to make some pocket money this weekend, Paddy Power is the place to go.

Let's get started.

Winners, Grand Slam, Wooden Spoon and Tries:

Given Wales have won the title the last two seasons, it's no surprise to see them installed as 2/1 favourites. England are close behind on 5/2 and while France at 3/1 can always produce something out of nothing, a bet on Ireland at 5/1 to win the championship makes a lot of sense.

The prospects of no Grand Slam sits at 4/6, highlighting how close this year's competition is, but given their schedule, if England win in Paris this weekend then the two weakest sides away and two strongest at home makes them worth backing to complete the Slam at 10/1.

Italy, who finished fourth last season but struggled in the rest of 2013, are understandable 8/13 favourites to finish bottom. The chances of France finishing last for a second consecutive year are 45/1.

Alex Cuthbert leads the way in the quest to be top try scorer at 11/2, with George North at 13/2, but don't stop looking there. We like the looks of Stuart Hogg at 66/1, Louis Picamoles at 50/1, Brian O'Driscoll at 80/1 and Billy Vunipola at 100/1.

Round One:

Wales v Italy: Despite the ongoing turmoil off the pitch, Wales go into Round One firm favourites to overcome the visiting Azzurri. Winning margins of 11-15 at 11/2 and 16-20 at 5/1 are attractive, as is backing Mike Phillips to bag the game's first try at 14/1. It's worth noting that Paddy Power's winning first try scorer deal doubles your odds if your correct player scores another try during the game - Alex Cuthbert's price would double from 11/2 if he scores first and dots down again. We can't see past the defending champions recording a comfortable opening victory here, which is why we're tipping Wales to win by about 16 points.

France v England: Win in France and that bet on England winning a Grand Slam at 10/1 doesn't look too shabby. As for Le Crunch, France despite last year's struggles are 8/13 favourites, with England at 6/4. A draw would be 22/1. The odds sum up just how fine the margin is between these two teams, but there is some daylight for France to be ahead by 8-14 points at 4/1. That would match the 8/1 odds of Les Bleus losing at the break before England win. An England winning margin of 1-5 points is down at 5/1. Look out for first try scorer bets on Louis Picamoles (16/1) and Billy Vunipola (20/1), with Maxime Médard (10/1) and Jonny May (12/1) the favourites for each side. As for a prediction we were split in the office, but we'll go for England by five points.

Ireland v Scotland: Using the aforementioned double-odds first scorer bet, Dave Kearney is a good prospect at 9/1 to bag the game's opening try; Rory Best is a more left-field choice at 20/1. Winning margins for Joe Schmidt's men of 11-15 and 16-20 pay out at 4/1 and 5/1 respectively, while tipping a shock away win by 1-5 points yields a little more than eight times your stake at 17/2. An alternative would be betting that Ireland's pack crosses the whitewash more than the Scots' at 13/10. It is that pack that should hand the hosts an advantage, and give them the platform to put their superior firepower among the backs to good use. That's why we're tipping a home triumph by about 12 points.

Good luck!

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