Home nations set for final World Cup warm-up games
The final preparations are being made ahead of the Rugby World Cup in England, and the home nations are putting the finishing touches to their game plans this weekend. England host Ireland, Wales welcome Italy and France clash with Scotland in Paris.
England v Ireland
Stuart Lancaster’s men will want to bounce back from a disappointing display against France last week when they host the Irish. England are odds-on favourites at 1/2 with Coral to grab a victory in their Twickenham send-off but will be tested by an Ireland team that won the Six Nations earlier in the year.
Joe Schmidt was not happy with his team’s loss against Wales last week and they will be determined to bounce back at 13/8. However, their last win at HQ came way back in 2010.
Brad Barritt has been handed his first start since November and the centre will be eager to catch the eye of the coaching staff. He’s a pretty huge 33/1 to score the first try and 9/1 to go over anytime.
Matches between these two tend to be tight affairs, with four of the previous showdowns on English soil being separated by six points or less, so an England victory by 1-5 points at 9/2 looks a good bet here.
Wales v Italy
The Welsh will be extremely confident after an excellent display against Ireland last week, and without skipper Sam Warburton to boot. They are 1/33 to grab another success against the Italians, who were beaten by Scotland with ease at Murrayfield last week. The Azzurri haven’t won against Wales in eight matches and are 10/1 to break that duck here.
Warren Gatland’s men mauled their opponents 61-20 when they squared-up in Rome in the Six Nations and this could be a long day for Jacques Brunel’s men. Wales are 10/11 -23 on the handicap and that looks a certainty, such is the strength of their line-up.
Tomas Francis was impressive on debut last week and this could be a try-fest for the hosts, so backing the tight head to score a try at 9/1 looks wise.
France v Scotland
The French are massively inconsistent and they haven’t followed up a win with another victory in three attempts, but they will get a chance here. Les Bleus beat England last time out and are 1/6 to make that back-to-back successes when they host Scotland. The Scots battered Italy on home turf in their previous game and are 4/1 to oust the French for the first time since 2006.
John Hardie’s selection has been widely criticised and the best way to silence those critics is for the New Zealand-born player to bag himself a try at 6/1.
The last four meetings have been decided by seven points or less so backing a confident France to win by 6-10 points at 11/2 could be wise.
Coral’s betting tip: England’s Barritt looks a great bet at 9/1 to score anytime against Ireland