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Can Ireland keep Six Nations bid alive? Get Six Nations Round 4 tips

Ben Darvill 10 Mar 2019
Jonathan Sexton of Ireland (credit:Credit by bettingpro)

Can Wales move to within a single win of a Grand Slam, will England keep up the pressure on Wales with a bonus point win over Italy, and can France end Ireland's slim hopes of a now unlikely championship title? Read on for our best bets for the games in Round Four of the Six Nations. 

Scotland vs Wales (Saturday, 14:15 GMT)

Scotland have a real chance to spoil Wales’ party this weekend as they host the table-toppers on Saturday in the earlier start. However, they are going to need to come out of a slump they have fallen into, with two losses in a row seeing the side sink down the Six Nations table. A 33-20 win over Italy was followed by a 22-13 home loss to Ireland before France outplayed them in a 27-10 defeat. Considering Ireland did not look good in their match while France had been hammered by England the week before, it was a real chance for Scotland. However, they failed to make the most out of either, and they are paying for it now, sitting in fifth in the table. While all would not be forgiven if they could beat Wales, it would see confidence return to the side, while it would also end Wales’ Grand Slam hopes. 

Wales come into this as the only side with a 100% record left in the competition. Wins over France, Italy and England were not convincing, but they seem to have been growing from week to week, with an awful first-half against France eventually leading to a superb performance in the second-half against England. The notion that they have forgotten how to lose may have been scoffed at by some, but a team with any less belief than Wales would have probably failed to take their chance against England. 

In this one we are backing Wales to move to within a single victory of a Grand Slam. Wales have won the last two fixtures between the pair, although it should be kept in mind that Scotland won 29-13 the last time the two met at Murrayfield. Prior to that though, Wales won nine games on the bounce, which saw their winning run over the Scots stretch back to 2008. With this in mind, along with the fact that Wales have beaten Scotland by 27 points and 11 points in their last two, we expect Warren Gatland’s men to win by a margin of more than three points. 

With the announcement of the Welsh team to play Scotland, it was no surprise to see the attacking-trio of Liam Williams, George North and Josh Adams keeping their places. Williams was a menace against England as he dominated the skies with clean catches and metres made, while North was at his brutal best as he looked to make yards any way possible. The main man for try scoring on the day was Adams though, with the winger collecting a pin-point Dan Biggar cross-field kick as he out jumped his man before juggling the ball and scrambling over the line. Adams’ finish was one that sent the Welsh fans over the edge, with the Red Dragons claiming a huge win over their rivals. While North may have been quiet in the game, he will fancy his chances of grabbing the headlines this time around against a Scotland team that are not brilliant defensively. If Wales can get quick ball and he can square his man up, we predict tries from the powerful wing. 

England vs Italy (Saturday, 16:45 GMT)

After a perfect start to the competition, it all came crashing down for England as they left the Principality Stadium with the rain cloud of defeat hanging over them. A strong first 40 minutes should have seen them pretty much out of sight on the scoreboard, but infringements and ill-discipline started to creep into their game as Wales edged back via the kicking tee. It would be Josh Adams’ juggling act that would hit the back-pages in the end, instead of the incredibly impressive performances of Kyle Sinckler and Tom Curry, with both ending on the losing side when they probably didn’t deserve to. Despite this, Eddie Jones seemed upbeat as he and fans of the five other nations bar Wales will claim nobody will remember the Six Nations after the World Cup, although we wonder if this would be the case if they were at the top. 

Italy meanwhile arrive on the back of another loss in the competition. Positives can be taken from this one as they pushed Ireland hard and actually threatened to pull off a real scare before the gap in ability began to show again. Three defeats in three and no bonus points means they are five short of Scotland in fifth, and they are heading towards another season at the bottom of the competition. 

For England, this is a real chance to do some experimenting with their squad. Eddie Jones recalled Chris Robshaw to the squad following injury, with the Harlequins forward starring in recent weeks and he may yet get his chance. A man that we think could get some game time is Bath wing Joe Cokanasiga. The powerful back may get the nod ahead of Jonny May or Jack Nowell, with the depth of the squad vital for the World Cup, meaning Jones has to find out who he can and cannot trust. If Cokanasiga is to start, we think he will go over the line at some point, so we are backing him to score. As far as our second recommendation goes, choosing which way the points handicap should go in this game is a tough one as while Italy have not picked up a losing bonus point yet, they have only lost by 13, 11 and 10 points in their last three matches. However, it should be kept in mind that Italy played a weakened Welsh side at home, while they then welcomed a struggling Ireland. Their game against Scotland would have been far worse had it not have been for a late try-scoring salvo, so perhaps things will be very different when they travel to face England. Indeed, their loss to Wales aside, England have looked outstanding this year, and they hammered France 44-8 in their only home game of the campaign so far.

Ireland vs France (Sunday, 15:00 GMT)

With England falling to defeat to Wales in Cardiff, suddenly Ireland’s hopes of winning the competition have been rejuvenated. Sitting just a point below England with two games to go, Ireland know that if they can clinch a bonus point win over France then they can take their championship hopes right down the the final weekend. Of course, there will be a lot of permutations if they are to win but, if all else fails, they will relish the chance to ruin the party in Cardiff on the final weekend. Before this though, they must host the misfiring French at the Avivia Stadium. Usually, people would breeze over this fixture, citing that Ireland’s strength and efficiency means they will sweep aside the French in Ireland. However, a loss to England in round one followed a steady performance against Scotland before they limped past Italy. Clearly, things are not perfect for Ireland right now with the team stuttering on the pitch. France have a great chance of getting a win then. The French arrive on the back of a strong performance against the Scottish which displayed that they can play, but these performances seem too few and far between in recent years. If the French can arrive and keep their composure and put pressure on Ireland’s scrum and half-back partnership, then they could get some joy in the game. Conor Murray has so far struggled at scrum-half which has in-turn piled the pressure on Jonny Sexton, who has not been at his mercurial best of late, so France could look to target them. Of course this all works in theory, but their inability to execute plans without individual errors continues to let France down, with their performances against Wales in the second-half and England perfect examples of this failure. Honestly, we don’t think France have a solid 80 minutes in them, and this is something you have to produce for a win in Ireland. 

In this one, we think Ireland will step up their game against a supposed top side and beat them comfortably. While Conor Murray may not be enjoying the best of Six Nations, we think he is a classy player that always gives teams problems with his quick passing, accurate box kicking and, most importantly in this one, his speed off the base of a ruck. We think that France will try to engage Ireland in a physical game with their massive pack, but this style takes its toll, and it means that the forward’s minds and bodies will struggle to keep up the pressure for a full 80. This will give a player like Murray, a quick opportunist, the chance to run through a gap and dab down in a game where Ireland will need him at his best. 

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Can Ireland keep Six Nations bid alive? Get Six Nations Round 4 tips

The Fourth Round of the Six Nations sees the competition edging closer to the final round, with Wales within two wins of a Grand Slam triumph

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