Rugby Betting

Feb 24, 41 days ago

2017 Six Nations match betting preview

2017 Six Nations match betting preview

Another late show by England kept up their impressive winning streak a fortnight ago, and the current Six Nations champions look to have a straightforward match this weekend as they host an Italy side who has never beaten them.
Elsewhere, Ireland face France and Scotland play Wales. Keep reading for our Six Nations match betting preview.

Ireland the rugby betting favourites to overcome France

Ireland were in sensational form a fortnight ago, beating Italy 63-10 in Rome to keep up their Six Nations challenge. Saturday’s match is likely to be a closer affair, but the Irish can grab a second consecutive win as they welcome France.
Despite performing well in the tournament so far, Paddy Jackson is expected to lose his place to the returning Jonny Sexton – although Jackson’s performances have given the Ireland coaches a tough decision.
Richie Murphy said: “Johnny gets picked like everyone else; he has no divine right to get picked. Will he get picked? That is a decision that has to be made. I am not trying to create any confusion. All I am saying is that there will be a decision made on the back of how he has performed over the last two days.
“Paddy Jackson has been brilliant. We have been very lucky that while Johnny has been out Paddy has been stepping in and filling that gap really well, since probably last summer.”
Rob Kearney is also set to return for Ireland having come through training unscathed, while Conor Murray could also play.
France bounced back from an opening day defeat to beat Scotland but only a win in Dublin will keep their title hopes alive. Camille Chat may return for the French who have benefited from a long training camp over the last few days.
Ireland have won three of the last four meetings between the sides and can overcome a 7 point handicap to win at 10/11.

England and Scotland looking for home wins

England‘s late score against Wales a fortnight ago kept up their winning streak which now stands at 16 matches. Eddie Jones’ side can make it 17 on the bounce on Sunday as they welcome Italy to Twickenham.
Mako Vunipola is set to make his first appearance in this year’s Six Nations after returning from two months out with knee ligament damage, although he is likely to feature from the bench with Joe Marler retaining his place at loose-head prop. Jonathan Joseph has also been omitted with Elliot Daly and Ben Te’o pushing for a starting berth.
Michele Rizzo has been called up by Italy to replace the injured Dario Chistolini in the Italy squad, who have struggled in their opening two matches.
England have a 42 point start on the handicap, but it’s worth bearing in mind that they have only beaten Italy by this margin once since 2002. England will win, but it could pay to back the visitors with a 42 point start at 10/11.
Wales‘ defeat to England was tough to take and they face a tricky away tie in Scotland.
George North will return on the wing for Wales in place of Alex Cuthbert in the only change from the 21-16 reverse to England. Ross Moriarty continues at number eight with Taulupe Faletau on the bench.
Coach Rob Howley said: “We have been able to select from a position of strength which is a huge positive and it is good to welcome George [North] back into the starting XV and Luke [Charteris] on to the bench,” said Howley.
“In terms of intensity and performance, we stepped up a level against England and we need to take the positives from that performance and take it into 80 minutes against Scotland at Murrayfield.”
Scotland have lost their last nine meetings – including the last four at home – against Wales, and it’s been a decade since they claimed their last victory. However, the last couple of meetings have been close – 26-23 in Edinburgh in 2015 and 27-23 in Cardiff a year ago – and the Scots are improving.
The home side could nick this and Scotland are evens to win.

Feb 10, 55 days ago

2017 Six Nations match betting preview

2017 Six Nations match betting preview

England continued their long winning streak by winning their opening Six Nations match last weekend, but they will have to be much better if they are going to prevail against old rivals Wales on Saturday.
Elsewhere this weekend, Ireland travel to Italy and France host Scotland. Keep reading for our Six Nations match betting preview.

England the rugby betting favourites for a 16th straight win

Even though they were far from convincing, England continued their superb run of victories at Twickenham last week, eventually beating France 19-16. It was England’s 15th straight win and they face a tough task to make it 16 in a row as they travel to Cardiff to face Wales.
England captain Dylan Hartley admitted his team had been below par in their narrow win: “We got through that one and a huge amount of credit needs to go to our finishers today. Ben Te’o and James Haskell gave us some go-forward at the end there.
“Week one of the tournament we’ll take that win, but there’s plenty to work on. It keeps us grounded, keeps us ready for next week and we’ll have to be a lot better to prepare for Wales.”
England go into the match with major problems in their back row. Billy Vunipola, George Kruis and Chris Robshaw have all been ruled out of the Six Nations with long-term injury problems and so Eddie Jones may be forced to field a back row with just four Test caps between them.
Jack Clifford is poised to start in place of the injured Tom Wood and he will play alongside Nathan Hughes and Maro Itoje. Exeter’s Jack Nowell is expected to replace Jonny May on the wing.
Wales have been boosted by the news that number eight Taulupe Faletau is available for Saturday’s match and they looked excellent in the second half of their 33-7 win in Italy.
England have won four of the last five matches between the sides including a win in their last match in Cardiff. However, these ties have been close and so the value looks with backing the home side with a five point start at 10/11.

Ireland value in the betting to bounce back from defeat

A terrific match at Murrayfield saw Ireland‘s brave fightback prove not quite enough as they went down 27-22 to Scotland. The Irish need to win their remaining four matches to have a chance of winning this season’s Six Nations and they can start with a win in Italy.
The Azzurri lost 33-7 in their opening match but Ireland defensive coach Andy Farrell believes it will be a tough match. He said: “We need to enjoy our defence this weekend against Italy, we need to get the ball back because if we don’t, the Italians are going to be hard work for us.
“It’s a tough old match over there and we’ve seen plenty of games where teams have come unstuck so you have to be at your best in this championship against absolutely everyone.”
Ireland have no new injury worries ahead of the game and could welcome back Jonny Sexton after injury. The away side should win this but Italy could keep it respectable. Back the home side with a 22 point start at 10/11.
It’s been 18 years since Scotland last won in Paris but after beating France at home in last year’s Six Nations they go to Paris with confidence, especially after beating Ireland last Saturday.
“It is a long time ago since we won there but we understand there is a reason for that,” said Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw.
“France are a good team and it is a hard place to win. We are under no illusions this week – we need to be on top form to get something out of the game. We’ll need accuracy and we need to be physical and aggressive because the French are big men. But we need to be subtle and clever in our attack.”
France have not finished in the top half of the Six Nations since 2011, but were impressive in narrow defeats by New Zealand and Australia in the autumn, and came close to a victory against England at Twickenham last weekend. This could go either way but Scotland’s record in Paris is poor and the home side can win this by more than 6 points at 10/11.

Six Nations match betting.

Nov 10, 147 days ago

Autumn Internationals Rugby Preview

Autumn Internationals Rugby Preview

After Ireland’s stunning victory against the all-conquering All Blacks last weekend, there are half a dozen superb matches to look forward to last weekend.
Ireland should find things easier against Canada while England and Scotland face a pair of top southern hemisphere sides. Keep reading for our Autumn Internationals rugby betting preview.

England and Ireland looking for wins

England kick off their autumn internationals with a match against South Africa at Twickenham.
The home side are looking for their first win against the Springboks in 12 fixtures spanning a decade and coach Eddie Jones has made some changes for the match. Wasps centre Elliot Daly will start for England for the first time will form a new midfield partnership with Owen Farrell, with Bath’s Jonathan Joseph the man to miss out.
Tom Wood will line-up at open-side flanker for his first England appearance in more than a year while Jonny May returns on the wing.
South Africa needed a late comeback to snatch a 31-31 draw against the Barbarians last weekend and recently suffered a record 57-15 loss to New Zealand. They have lost five of their last nine matches and former Springbok Hennie le Roux believes the visitors are ‘ripe for the taking’.
“There’s been quite a lot of turmoil in South African rugby,” ex-international centre Le Roux told the BBC. “At this point, England playing at home I think will have the edge.”
England are clear favourites for the match and 10/11 to win by more than 11 points.
With New Zealand on an 18-match winning streak, we tipped Ireland to run them close last week but few expected such an incredible win. The victory in Chicago was Ireland’s first against the All Blacks and Joe Schmidt’s side will go into their international with Canada with enormous confidence.
Even though they registered a historic win, Ireland are still expected to make changes for the match in Dublin. Flanker Sean O’Brien is set to return having not features in Test rugby since February because of a hamstring injury. Munster flanker Peter O’Mahony may also feature after proving his fitness by appearing in his side’s 33-0 win over Ospreys.
“It’s a huge game, a huge game for everyone. You can be sure Canada will be preparing to come and beat us,” O’Brien said of Saturday’s encounter. “Once you’ve been away from the set-up for a long time, pulling on an Irish jersey is going to mean a lot this weekend. So that’s what I’m looking forward to.”
We tipped Ireland with a 23 point start last week at 10/11. With a great victory behind them, they can put Canada to the sword and overcome the 38 point handicap at 10/11.

Scotland face a tough task at Murrayfield

Australia had lost seven of their last ten international before arriving in the UK last week but were far too good for Wales, running out 32-8 winners.
Man of the match Bernard Foley controlled the match, and the Wallabies head to Murrayfield this week to play Scotland.
Scotland captain Gregg Laidlaw believes his side’s narrow 35-34 defeat to the Aussies in the World Cup will provide inspiration for Saturday’s match.
Laidlaw said: “We understand that defensively we need to be stronger this time around. We gave away five tries so Australia will probably be thinking they can cause us problems. So we need to be real tight in our defence, real tight in our driving maul and our forward play so we are not giving away cheap points.
“If we get our stuff right, we feel as though we’ve got a strong game plan. We just need to stay in the moment and stick to our game plan. If we do that, we think we can be in the game.”
The Wallabies come into the match having played a lot of rugby recently and look good value at 10/11 to overcome the 10 point handicap.
Wales are looking to bounce back from their defeat to Australia last week although they face a tricky match against 2015 World Cup semi-finalists Argentina. While the Pumas only won one match in this year’s Rugby Championship they played well against New Zealand and looked in good form when they recently beat Japan 54-20.
Wales second row Bradley Davies said: “They’ve played very good rugby especially in the last couple of games they’ve played – probably from the World Cup really. The way they have improved has been phenomenal and they’ve got a physical pack as well – so they beat you up up-front and they spin the ball about as well now.
“We’ve got to pick ourselves up and we’ve shown over the years that we can do it.”
Argentina can be backed at 10/11 with a five point start.
After their record-breaking run of wins ended last weekend in Chicago, New Zealand can get back to winning ways as they travel to Italy. The All Blacks should win but it may be worth backing the home side with a 42 point start at 10/11.

Nov 4, 153 days ago

Autumn Internationals Rugby Preview

Autumn Internationals Rugby Preview

The autumn international rugby season gets under way this weekend with a couple of northern versus southern hemisphere clashes.
Wales face Australia in Cardiff while Ireland have the daunting task of taking on world champions New Zealand. Keep reading for our Autumn Internationals rugby betting preview.

Ireland v New Zealand

This Saturday, Ireland become the latest team to try and stop the All Blacks’ record-breaking run. It’s now a world record 18 consecutive wins for the world champions and they will be going for a 19th straight win when they take on Ireland in the unfamiliar surroundings of Soldier Field, Chicago.
Ireland have a particularly daunting task, considering they haven’t played together since their tour of South Africa last June. They face an All Blacks side in superb form having just completed the Investec Rugby Championship.
However, coach Joe Schmidt is looking forward to the challenge. “It’s just so exciting to play them,” he said. “They’re such an iconic brand and they are at the peak of their powers – the most successful team there has ever been.”
Schmidt also believes that it is a good chance to see how Ireland currently compare with the best in the world. “If we don’t take on those challenges, how do we get better? We play between 10 and 12 Test matches a year. They tend to play 14, maybe 15.
“They play at least half of them against the best teams in the world because the southern hemisphere dominate the top rankings. Therefore, are they getting further away from us? One of the ways to measure yourself and to progress is to play them. If you play against better opponents, you start to work out a process, a way of playing that might cope with what they deliver.”
The world champions recorded their 18th straight win with a 37-10 win over Australia a couple of weeks ago, even with a much changed line-up. Steve Hanson’s side can legitimately claim to be the greatest ever rugby side and they are the hot favourites in Chicago.
However, the last time these two teams met, Ireland let 22-17 with fewer than 30 seconds remaining, only to lose 24-22. Ireland have never beaten the All Blacks, but should be backed with a 23 point start at 10/11.

Wales v Australia

Two evenly matched sides meet in Cardiff on Saturday as Wales take on Australia in the first of their autumn internationals.
Wales go into the match at less than full strength, with captain Sam Warburton the most notable injury absence. Lock Alun Wyn Jones will not play following the death of his father while the home side are also waiting on the fitness of Scarlets trio Liam Williams, Scott Williams, and Jake Ball.
“[Liam] just trains with us, trains with the medics, does a bit of stuff with the team so we’re hoping fingers crossed he comes through” said Wales kicking coach Neil Jenkins.
“Liam’s has been exceptional for us this year for the Scarlets as he has been for us over a number of years. I think he’s both [full-back and wing options], he’s been outstanding at full-back but played exceptionally well for us on the win over the summer [in New Zealand].”
Australia could name some uncapped players in their team this weekend and the most interesting is Marika Koroibete, a rugby league convert who has yet to make his Super Rugby debut. Koroibete, 24, who has yet to complete his switch to rugby union for Melbourne Rebels, turned out for Melbourne Storm in Australia’s Grand Final this month.
Coach Michael Cheika has included Will Genia in his squad but the scrum-half will miss the Tests against England and Wales.
Australia have won the last 11 meetings between the sides and you have to go back to 2008 for the last Wales win. The home side look tempting at 7/5 while the Wallabies are 4/7.

Oct 7, 181 days ago

2016 Super League Grand Final preview

2016 Super League Grand Final preview

It’s been an unpredictable season in Super League although the best two teams over the course of the campaign have made it through to the 21st Grand Final.
Warrington Wolves are looking to win the title for the first time while Wigan Warriors are trying to avoid three successive defeats in the showpiece event. Keep reading for our Super League Grand Final preview.

Warrington looking to finally take Super League title

The Wolves have been at the top of the sport for the best part of a decade but despite winning the League Leader’s Shield on a number of occasions they have yet to lift the biggest prize of all; the Super League Trophy.
Having won the Shield again this season, Warrington are finally hoping to end their Old Trafford hoodoo. They lost the 2012 final to Leeds Rhinos and the 2013 final to Saturday’s opponents Wigan and coach Tony Smith is hoping to make it third time lucky.
Smith believes his team just have to play their normal game on Saturday. Asked what his side would need to show, the coach said: “Composure, I think, and just being able to execute the big plays when needed. They have to put some of the atmosphere aside or use it in a positive way to spur them on.
“But you can’t play the occasion. It is still a game of rugby league. You still need to make your tackles, make the passes, keep composure and kick the ball well.”
Wolves looked good for the first hour of their recent meeting with this weekend’s opponents. Leading 28-14 over the Warriors with 20 minutes to go in their match three weeks ago the Wolves looked all set for victory, particularly when Ben Flower was sent off for elbowing Declan Patton.
However, the Warriors stormed back to score 21 points without reply in the final quarter of the match to seal victory and Warrington will need to be wary of their opponents in their third Grand Final.

Warriors reach their fourth consecutive Grand Final

Old Trafford has become a second home to Wigan over recent years. The Warriors have reached five of the last seven Grand Finals but come into this weekend’s showpiece having been beaten in the Final in the last two years.
Ben Flower’s early dismissal cost the Warriors dear against St Helens in 2014 while Leeds Rhinos just got the better of their rivals in a terrific match last October, eventually winning 22-20.
Wigan head coach Shaun Wane believes that his team are desperate to end their losing streak. He said: “All my players are pumped. They are all ready. We will train well this week. We had a great win last Friday and hopefully we can another one this Saturday.
“It is our fourth time here and we have only got one ring. There is only one way to go out of here and that is with the cup on the front seat of your coach.”
The Warriors overcame a talented Hull side 28-18 in the semi-final, but go into the match with a long injury list. Five regular players will be missing, with Sam Tomkins, Dominic Manfredi, Tony Clubb, Joel Tomkins and Michael McIlorum all out injured.
Josh Charnley will play his last game for Wigan before he joins Sale Sharks in two weeks time in a switch to union.

Verdict

With just one point separating the two sides over the course of the season, this is a touch match to call. The Wolves are the slight favourites, and could take advantage of the Warriors’ injury problems to finally land their first Super League Trophy.
Wigan have plenty of experience, however, and are very used to this occasion. The Warriors can be backed at 11/10 but I fancy Warrington to make it a night to remember at 10/11.

Super League Grand Final betting

Oct 9, 545 days ago

2015 Super League Grand Final preview

For the first time since the inaugural Grand Final in 1998, two of rugby league’s powerhouses will meet in this Saturday’s showpiece. Just 43,553 watched Wigan beat Leeds 17 years ago but this year’s Roses clash is set to be a sell-out with a record crowd expected at Old Trafford.

It’s Wigan’s third consecutive final while the Rhinos are looking to become the first team to complete a domestic treble in nine years. Keep reading for our Super League Grand Final preview.

Leeds looking to end 125 year hoodoo

In one of the odder quirks of rugby league, Leeds Rhinos have never beaten Wigan in a major final in the 125 year history of the sport. Now, for the first time since the inaugural Old Trafford showpiece in 1998, these two giants will meet in this Saturday’s Super League Grand Final.

It promises to be an emotional occasion, irrespective of the result. Three of the greatest players ever to represent the Rhinos will end their rugby league careers after the match, with Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai retiring and captain Kevin Sinfield changing codes.

Sinfield, has been quick to focus on the match and not on the emotional farewells. “This isn’t about me or JP or Kylie, there’s a dressing room full of lads who wanted to win that semi-final [against St Helens],” he said.

“We have a fantastic group who want to win no matter what. To win this last game at Headingley in front of people who’ve supported me for the last 20 years is a nice way to say goodbye to my Rhinos’ career here. That semi-final was one of the toughest games I’ve been involved in, but I’m just delighted to be able to get to Old Trafford again,” he added.

It’s been a terrific season for the Rhinos and a Grand Final win would see them become the first team since St Helens in 2006 to complete the domestic treble. Leeds are evens to end their 125 year wait and finally beat their rivals in a major final.

Wigan reach their third consecutive Grand Final

Beating St Helens in a Grand Final was always likely to be a tough ask for the Warriors but last year’s challenge was made even more difficult when they had to play 78 minutes of the showpiece event a man short.

Ben Flower’s dismissal for punching Lance Hohaia saw him earn a six-month ban from the sport but having returned in good form the prop believes he ‘owes’ his team mates this year. “I will play my heart out on Saturday when we’re on the field. Everyone is going to play their part next week and be trying to do their best,” he said.

“I messed up last year and it was solely down to me. But I’ve moved on and am a different person to then. I just want to be playing rugby – and I owe them everything. They’ve got me back there and I’ll do my best for them.”

Warriors lost 14-6 at Old Trafford last October and while scrum-half Matty Smith admits the defeat still hurts he believes it will simply add to his team’s motivation.

“I don’t think you ever get over it, I really don’t,” Smith said. “I think you learn from it, it probably spurs you on to be more successful.

“Through the winter months when you’re thinking about the Grand Final you’ve lost, it drives you on through pre-season. It’s been a long season but we are here now  and we can right the wrongs that were there last year but we come up against a great side in Leeds.”

Wigan are evens to win their fourth Grand Final.

Verdict

This is as close a Grand Final as we’ve seen in years, reflected in the fact that the bookies can’t separate the two sides in the betting.

Leeds haven’t beaten Wigan in a major final in the history of the sport but they do have a brilliant record in this event. They have won six of their previous eight Grand Finals and can end their long Warriors hoodoo this Saturday. Back the Rhinos to win at evens.

Rugby League betting

Sep 18, 566 days ago

2015 Rugby World Cup preview

2015 Rugby World Cup preview

The eighth Rugby World Cup kicks off this September with 20 teams hoping to lift the famous trophy in London on 31 October. 19 of the 20 teams that competed for the last World Cup return with only Russia absent this time (Uruguay take their place).

The reigning champions New Zealand are the tournament favourites but there could be one or two surprises over the six weeks. Can England win the Cup again or can one of the other Northern Hemisphere sides lift the trophy for the first time? Keep reading for our 2015 Rugby World Cup preview.

The favourites

Considering they are the defending champions and that they have only lost one game in the Northern Hemisphere since the 2007 World Cup, New Zealand are worthy 13/10 favourites.

The All Blacks are clearly the best team in the world but they are not as far out in front as they were in 2011 and it’s also worth remembering that they haven’t reached the final in three previous Northern Hemisphere world cups.

However, Steve Hansen’s team do look to have a very comfortable draw and boast huge experience with Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu, Dan Carter and Richie McCaw all boasting more than 100 international caps. The All Blacks should comfortably reach the semi-finals at least.

Home advantage and a huge sense of expectation have elevated England to 4/1 second favourites even though they are ranked just sixth in the world.

Stuart Lancaster has strength and depth in his squad and, on their day, England can beat anyone although there are question marks as to whether there has been the requisite level of progress over the last couple of years.

If they can cope with the expectation the power of their pack, in particular the tight five, will make them hard to beat at Twickenham but winning Pool A – which means defeating Australia and Wales early on – could be crucial to their chances of reaching the final.

A recent win over the All Blacks mean that Australia arrive in England in good spirits and coach Michael Cheika has plenty of superb talent to choose from. Israel Folau is arguably the best full-back in the world and in David Pocock the Wallabies have a flanker capable of turning matches all on his own.

The match against England on 3 October could be crucial; win it and Australia will fancy their chances of reaching a fourth World Cup final.

Their preparation may not have been ideal but the draw means that South Africa should have no trouble in topping Pool B. The two-time winners have huge experience in Schalk Burger, Bryan Habana, Victor Matfield and the captain Jean de Villiers and if they can overcome their last eight match – likely to be England or Australia – they could be a real contender at 8/1.

The outsiders

Ireland have generally underperformed in World Cups – the quarter final remains their best achievement – but there are high hopes that the reigning Six Nations champions can do better this time.

Winning Pool D is key to Ireland’s chances – fail to do so and they will probably meet the All Blacks in the last eight – but if they can beat France in the decider on October 11th they have a winnable quarter final. Joe Schmidt’s side will probably face Argentina if they top the group and a potential semi-final against England or Australia.

Ireland are accustomed to winning and have a terrific spine of players. The 9/1 will tempt many.

France have been awful over recent years but do always seem to improve just in time for a World Cup. Les Bleus beat England in a warm-up game and are the only team to have reached three world cup finals without ever winning one. They could be a really interesting each-way bet at 12/1.

Wales will have to beat Australia, England or both to qualify for the quarter finals which is reflected in their odds of 25/1 while Scotland‘s clash with Samoa on 10 October will probably determine which of the teams joins South Africa in qualifying from Pool B. The Scots are 75/1 to win the tournament.

Rugby World Cup betting

Mar 20, 748 days ago

Six Nations match preview – 18 March 2015

Six Nations match preview – 18 March 2015

The final round of Six Nations matches takes place this Saturday with four of the teams still harbouring hopes of winning this year’s title.

England and Ireland are the favourites and if they win their matches the title will come down to the margin of their respective victories. However, Wales can also nick the title while France can leapfrog everyone if results go their way.

Keep reading for our betting preview of all the weekend’s Six Nations fixtures.

Italy v Wales

Wales retain a chance of winning this season’s Six Nations and can put pressure on their rivals with a big win in Saturday’s early kick-off. Their points difference is 25 inferior to leaders England and they travel to Italy needing to score a hatful of points to retain a chance of winning this year’s title.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has made two enforced changes for the match with Aaron Jarvis coming in at tight-head in place of the injured Samson Lee and Rob Evans replacing Gethin Jenkins at loose-head.

The Wales coach knows that they have to take advantage of playing first to put down a marker for their Six Nations rivals to chase. He said: “The challenge to us is to go to Italy and win, and try and win by a significant margin, but we know that’s an extremely tough ask and the first job will be to simply get the result.”

“Italy build their confidence around the scrum and line-out drive and that’s an area we are going to have to compete strongly in at the start of the match.”

A good result for Italy would see them avoid the wooden spoon this year but I expect Wales to win. However Italy can keep the score respectable and should be backed with a 21 point start at 10/11.

Scotland v Ireland

A big win for Ireland could be enough for them to retain the Six Nations title for the first time since 1949 and they travel to Scotland who have lost all their matches this season.

While the title could come down to points difference, Ireland centre Robbie Henshaw admitted that his side are first and foremost concentrating on winning the match at Murrayfield.

He said: “We’re not looking at points difference – we’re just concentrating on the game and trying to get a result. We are determined to put in a good performance after letting ourselves down a bit in Cardiff.

“The Scots put it up to England at Twickenham and went close to turning them over, so we need to be 100% focused,” he added.

Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw says that his side are seeking to avoid the ‘embarrassment’ of losing a fifth successive Six Nations match and ending the season with the wooden spoon. “It’s a huge game for us and I know the boys are absolutely desperate to get out there, put in a good performance and come away with the win,” he said.

“We’ve got one massive game this weekend that us as a Scotland team and coaches are desperate to win – for the jersey, for ourselves and the supporters, who have been magnificent.”

Back Ireland to win and put down a marker for England by overcoming the 8 point handicap at 10/11.

England v France

England sit in pole position in the Six Nations table and will have the advantage of knowing exactly what they need to do to win the title by the time they meet France at Twickenham.

England head coach Stuart Lancaster has brought in lock Geoff Parling for Dave Attwood in the only change to the side which beat Scotland 25-13 in their last outing.

England’s stable selection has certainly helped them – only 29 players have been picked so far – and coach Stuart Lancaster is keen to put three consecutive runners-up finishes behind them this year. and win the title.

“It would mean a huge amount for the players and the fans,” Lancaster said. “I know how much hard work people have put in and how much it hurt to come second for three years in a row. But you can’t start thinking about things like that until you get the detail of the game right. It could still be the case France have something to play for, so we won’t start dreaming yet.”

While it has hardly been a vintage season for France it is worth remembering that they have one of the best defences around and have only conceded two tries in the Six Nations so far. It is also worth remembering that if Wales and Ireland lose earlier in the day, an eight point victory would see the French unexpectedly win the Six Nations title.

I expect England to win and, in doing so, take the Six Nations title. However, they are facing one of the best packs in the world and, as French coach Philippe Saint-Andre said this week, “there is very little difference between the teams in this tournament.” The value could be in backing the French with a 10 point start at 10/11.

Rugby Union betting

 

Mar 13, 755 days ago

Six Nations match preview – 14/15 March 2015

Six Nations match preview – 14/15 March 2015

Ireland were victorious in the match of this season’s Six Nations a fortnight ago and will continue their bid for a Grand Slam this weekend in Cardiff. They visit Wales who retain hopes of winning the title themselves after an excellent win in Paris last time out.

There’s also the small matter of the Calcutta Cup at Twickenham while France take on Italy. Keep reading for our betting preview of all the weekend’s Six Nations fixtures.

Wales v Ireland

After their win against France a fortnight ago, Wales retain an outside chance of winning this season’s Six Nations. After their 20-13 win in Paris a fortnight ago coach Warren Gatland has named an unchanged side for the visit of Grand Slam chasing Ireland on Saturday.

Sam Warburton will captain his country for a record 34th time while injuries to prop Paul James and second row Bradley Davies see the Scarlets pair of Rob Evans and Jake Ball brought in to the replacements’ bench.

“We were disappointed with the last 20 minutes against England and made changes, and that team performed well against Scotland,” added Gatland.

“But we made changes against France to look at other players and they played well and they’ve been rewarded. We return to the Millennium Stadium after two tough away trips with two victories and will be looking to build on that.

“Ireland are the form team in Europe and we know it is going to be a huge battle.”

Ireland have been buoyed by some good news on the injury front ahead of their crunch tie in Cardiff. Jonny Sexton limped out of the win over England but has been passed fit while Jamie Heaslip and Sean O’Brien have also been cleared to play.

Ireland are the only unbeaten team left in this season’s tournament and are gunning to retain the Six Nations title for the first time since 1949. Joe Schmidt’s team can also claim a second Grand Slam in six years if they can win in Cardiff and then beat Scotland at Murrayfield.

This is arguably Ireland’s biggest test of the Six Nations but England showed that Wales can be beaten in their backyard and I fancy the visitors to overcome the two point handicap and win at 10/11.

England v Scotland

It has been 32 years since Scotland last beat England at Twickenham and the home side are massive odds-on favourites to continue their quest for the Six Nations title with a big win.

Stuart Lancaster will be forced into changing his team this weekend after centre Brad Barritt and flanker Tom Croft suffered injuries on club duty. Croft dislocated his shoulder playing for Leicester and while Barritt hasn’t played for England since their win over Australia in the autumn he was in line for a recall.

In more positive news, Mike Brown, Tom Wood and Courtney Lawes are in line for selection after recovering from injury.

Lancaster is keen to get England’s challenge back on track after their defeat to Ireland. He said: “”We were disappointed in ourselves. We knew that if we could have got a win in Ireland we would have two home games and an opportunity to win something. We’ve not achieved so that was the real frustration.”

Scottish star Sean Maitland has returned to the squad after a six-week lay-off and could face England in the quest for the Calcutta Cup.

“Obviously they’re going to be dangerous,” said the 26-year-old. “If we play like we did against Italy, we’ll get 40 points put on us. The mindset is we’ve got to go down there and play smart and have that balance between knowing when to kick and knowing when to run because their defence is so strong.

“Our backline, on our day, we could cut anyone up. It’s just having that confidence going into these games – they’re normal guys. Obviously Twickenham’s going to be a huge game, but it’s about having that confidence that, if we play well, we can rip anyone up.”

It has been a case of ‘close but no cigar’ for Scotland in this season’s tournament and I can’t see anything other than a fourth successive Six Nations defeat this weekend. However, they may be able to keep the match relatively close and so look worth backing with a 15 point start at 10/11.

Italy v France

France have been one of the major disappointments of the Six Nations so far although Philippe Saint-Andre has refused to resign. Instead the coach chose to criticise his side after their 20-13 defeat by Wales a fortnight ago.

“I’ve covered and supported them for three years,” he said. “At some stage you need to know how to win games at the highest level. The French jersey should not only be something you’re proud of but also something that enables you to surpass yourself. You need to be a gladiator.

“We have guys who started playing three years ago and now have 30 caps. It’s time to stop hiding. At some point you have to ask the right questions. We’re at our level, that’s the truth. It takes the Welsh 30 seconds to score three points and it takes us four minutes.

“We’re the Father Christmas of international rugby and that’s what I told the players.”

Italy just about deserved their win over Scotland last time out and it’s worth bearing in mind that the Italians’ have beaten France in their last two Six Nations meetings in Rome. They won 22-21 back in 2011 and 23-18 in 2013 and so look good value at 10/11 with an 8 point start.

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Feb 27, 769 days ago

Six Nations match preview – 28 February/1 March 2015

Six Nations match preview – 28 February/1 March 2015

There was some terrific rugby action last weekend as the 16th Six Nations tournament got under way. England showed great spirit to come from behind to beat Wales while there were expected victories for France and Ireland who meet this weekend.

Keep reading for our betting preview of all the weekend’s Six Nations fixtures.

Ireland v England

On current form, Sunday’s match in Dublin looks as if it could be the tie that decides the outcome of this year’s Six Nations title. Before the tournament began you’d have got long odds on an England win – their lack of preparation and injury problems pointed to a home win – but now the bookies cannot split the sides.

England have been forced into a change after Mike Brown was carried off in England’s win against Italy a fortnight ago. Saracens’ Alex Goode is likely to start and coach Stuart Lancaster has no qualms about picking Goode.

“He’s lost out in the short term because Mike has played exceptionally well but Alex has played consistently well for England. He’s been unlucky in the sense the stand-out player in the Six Nations last year was Mike Brown, who plays in his position. He’s certainly confident and he feels he’s ready, should his opportunity come,” he said.

Ireland’s only major concern is who will replace Lions number eight Jamie Heaslip who sustained three damaged vertebrae after being kneed in the back by France’s Pascal Pape. Leinster colleague Jordi Murphy was given Heaslip’s shirt in the opening day win over Italy and could be coach Joe Schmidt’s choice again.

The match last year between these two sides — won 13-10 by England – was the standout of that championship and this could be the pick of the ties this year. It’s unlikely to be a high-scoring affair (there have only been four tries in the past three matches between the two, with Ireland scoring only one of them) but it should be passionate and emotional.

Ireland are unbeaten in 9 Tests while England have not lost to Ireland under Stuart Lancaster and seem to have learned how to win Test rugby matches. It will be close and the difference could be Ireland’s home advantage.

France v Wales

Wales got their campaign up and running with a 26-23 win at Murrayfield a fortnight ago and are looking to grab another win as they travel to Paris to face France.

Wales coach Warren Gatland has made four changes to the side that beat the Scots with George North coming in for Alex Cuthbert who has been dropped from the squad after video footage emerged of him appearing to throw a member of the public’s mobile phone down a street.

Samson Lee comes in for Aaron Jarvis, Scott Baldwin takes over at hooker from Richard Hibbard, while Luke Charteris replaces Jake Ball at lock.

Gatland said: “We have made some tough calls and there were some tight decisions, but it is a very strong team we are putting out. We have a lot of strength in depth at second-row. It is a chance for Luke Charteris to get a start and we have been impressed with Bradley Davies as well.

“We felt we improved against Scotland and we are looking for another improvement this weekend.”

France have been struggling for form of late and coach Philippe Saint-Andre makes five changes for this match. Centre Mathieu Bastareaud has been dropped with Remy Lamerat coming in and Brice Dulin replaces the omitted Scott Spedding at full-back. Three further changes are enforced through injury and suspension.

Wales have beaten France in their last three meetings including a 16-6 win in 2013’s Six Nations. Considering how laboured the home side have been in recent matches I fancy the away side with a three point start at 10/11.

Scotland v Italy

Over recent years this has traditionally been the match to decide the Six Nations wooden spoon with Scotland having averaged just one win per Six Nations tournament since 2007.

The Scots are certainly improving and were narrowly defeated by Wales a fortnight ago. Coach Vern Cotter has made five changes to his squad with Jon Welsh and Gordon Reid joining Richie Gray on the injured list. Props Moray Low, of Exeter, and Alex Allan, of Glasgow Warriors come in as do scrum-half Chris Cusiter and number eights Adam Ashe and David Denton.

Italy’s Martin Castrogiovanni is set to miss the match at Murrayfield after what the Italian rugby federation called a ‘slight domestic incident’. The 33 year old Toulon prop needed 14 stitches after being bitten on the nose while playing with a friend’s dog and the visitors will certainly miss his experience.

Scotland have won their last three matches against Italy and haven’t been beaten at Murrayfield by this weekend’s opponents since 2007. With Italy having conceded 73 points in their two matches I fancy the home side to overcome the 11 point handicap and win at 10/11.

Rugby Union betting

 

Feb 13, 783 days ago

Six Nations match preview – 14/15 February 2015

Six Nations match preview – 14/15 February 2015

There was some terrific rugby action last weekend as the 16th Six Nations tournament got under way. England showed great spirit to come from behind to beat Wales while there were expected victories for France and Ireland who meet this weekend.

Keep reading for our betting preview of all the weekend’s Six Nations fixtures.

England v Italy

England came from behind in their opening Six Nations match last Friday to beat Wales 21-16 and put down a marker ahead of the two teams meeting at this autumn’s World Cup.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, England coach Stuart Lancaster has named an unchanged squad for the match with Geoff Paring and David Wilson still unable to return to the side due to injury.

Lancaster said: “We’ve gone for the same squad that played against Wales as we look to build consistent performances.

Italy lost Michaele Campagnaro during their defeat to Ireland as will veteran flanker Alessandro Zanni. They face a tough test in London but have been narrowing the gap between the sides since being beaten by 57 points on their first Six Nations visit to Twickenham in 2001.

On their last visit, the visitors England hanging on for dear life before almost 81,500 spectators and they could make life difficult again this year. England have won every single match against Italy and that won’t change on Saturday – but can they overcome the 29 point handicap? The value may be in backing Italy to avoid humiliation at 10/11.

Ireland v France

Tries from the Munster pair Conor Murray and Tommy O’Donnell in between four penalties from another Munster player, Ian Keatley, saw the defending champions to an opening day win in Rome. While the Irish ran out comfortable winners, Joe Schmidt readily acknowledged that England had ‘set the benchmark’ and that the holders needed to ‘up our game’ against France at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Ireland could welcome back for Lions for the visit of France with Jonny Sextion, Jamie Heaslip, Cian Healy and Rory Best set to play, subject to a medical check on Best after he was forced into an early second-half exit in Rome. Sean O’Brien may also play.

Despite heavy criticism of last weekend’s performance in the French media, coach Philippe Saint-Andre has decided to stick with largely the same team, making just one change. Prop Eddy Ben Arous’s will start his first international after replacing Alexandre Menini early in the second half in Saturday’s game.

Scrum-half Morgan Parra remains on the bench despite impressing when he came on for South Africa-born Rory Kockott against the Scots.

Ireland have never beaten France at the Aviva Stadium but that should change this weekend. I fancy Ireland to win by more than six points at 10/11.

Scotland v Wales

Scotland have averaged just one win per Six Nations tournament since 2007 and opened their campaign with defeat to France in Paris. Despite their defeat hooker Ross Ford remains positive about the Scotland squad and believes that newcomers including Mark Bennett, Finn Russell and Blair Cowan, have given the squad a boost.

“The way we’re performing, the enthusiasm and the buzz around the squad, it’s good and it does feel new and fresh,” he said. “The boys that have come in have a lot to do with that, they’ve helped create it and it’s great to have.”

Scotland gave away 11 penalties against France and will need to be more disciplined to get anything out of this match.

Wales coach Warren Gatland has made just one change from the side that lost to England with George North set to miss out through injury. While not concussed in the defeat by England, Wales are giving the left winger ‘an extended recovery period ahead of the game against France’ having suffered head knocks in November.

Wales have won eleven of their last twelve meetings with Scotland and won by a double figure margin in each of their last three visits to Murrayfield. Back the visitors to overcome the three point handicap at 10/11.

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Feb 6, 790 days ago

Six Nations match preview – 6/7 February 2015

Six Nations match preview – 6/7 February 2015

The 16th Six Nations championship kicks off this weekend with three mouth-watering fixtures. And, with the World Cup just around the corner, this is the final chance for the six coaches to fine tune their preparations ahead of the autumn tournament.

Keep reading for our betting preview of all the weekend’s Six Nations fixtures.

Wales v England

Two years ago, England suffered their worst defeat of the Stuart Lancaster era when they went down 30-3 to Wales in the Millennium Stadium. The two sides meet again in the Welsh capital this Friday night in the opening match of this year’s Six Nations.

Wales are strong favourites to get their campaign off to a flying start. While they have a settled side – it has barely changed from the one that chalked up that record-breaking victory in March  2013 – England will be missing more than half of their first choice side through injury.

Owen Farrell, David Wilson, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Manu Tuilagi, Tom Wood and Ben Morgan will all miss the match and that means an all new pairing at centre with Luther Burrell and Jonathan Joseph coming in. Five players – Anthony Watson, Joseph, George Ford, Dave Attwood and George Kruis – will be starting their first Six Nations match.

England coach Stuart Lancaster said: “We’ve had to make some tight calls but we are excited about the side selected for what will be a big challenge. Billy Vunipola has been playing well for Saracens and it’s good to be able to give George Kruis his first international start after his impressive run off the bench in November.

“Dan Cole and James Haskell bring a lot of experience, as do the bench, and their contribution will be crucial on Friday night.”

Wales coach Warren Gatland has made two changes to the side that beat South Africa 12-6 in November. George North returns at wing for while Richard Hibbard is selected as hooker. Captain Sam Warburton will win his 50th cap as part of a settled back-row with Dan Lydiate and Taulupe Faletau.

It should be a great match and Wales are 10/11 to win by more than four points.

Italy v Ireland

Ireland have won every match against Italy in the Six Nations with the exception of the tie between the two sides in Rome in 2013. Italy won that fixture 22-15 and Ireland will be keen to avoid a repeat of that defeat and get their Six Nations campaign off to a winning start.

Ireland star Conor Murray has recovered from a neck injury and is available to play against Italy. The scrum-half will have a key role in dictating Ireland’s play in the absence of Jonathan Sexton who will miss the game as he ends a stand-down period because of concussion. Cian Healy will also miss the match and is expected to return against France on 14 February.

Italy will be keen to avoid a repeat of their 46-7 drubbing in last season’s Six Nations and coach Jacques Brunel believes his side can be competitive. He said: “It’s a year in which we have three home games, so we owe it to ourselves to win at home. I’m convinced we’re not that far off the other big nations.

“But for us to win, we need 100 percent precision and 100 percent efficiency. We can’t afford to be at 70 or percent.”

Ireland have a 10 point handicap in the betting which wouldn’t have been enough to make a profit in their last two visits to Rome. The value may be on backing the home side with a 10 point start.

France v Scotland

Scotland have never won the Six Nations and have averaged one win per Six Nations tournament since 2007. They have also not beaten France since their win at Murrayfield in 2006 but after five wins in their last seven Tests the Scots enter this year’s tournament confident and in decent form.

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has a reputation for tweaking his team and makes seven changes from the side that lost 18-13 to South Africa in Paris in November. Among those coming in is South African-born scrum-half Rory Kockott and Stade Francais prop Rabah Slimani while Toulon’s Mathieu Bastareaud comes in at outside centre.

It is 16 years since Scotland beat France in Paris and I don’t expect that to change this Saturday. France should win but an improving Scotland could keep it close and they are 10/11 to win with a nine point start.

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