The fourth and penultimate round of fixtures in the 2018 Six Nations will be played this weekend, with Ireland looking to wrap up the title when they host Scotland. England do battle with France in Paris, while Wales face Italy on Sunday. And our betting preview has all the odds and tips punters need for betting across all three matches.
The name on the trophy for this year could already be decided after the first match on Saturday. Ireland currently lead the table by five points, having won all three of their games and will be hoping to secure the title with one to spare, thus avoiding a final-day decider against England at Twickenham.
Top online rugby bookmakers and their odds are clearly in their favour. The Irish have not lost at home to Scotland since 2010 and have suffered defeat in Dublin just once in the last 20 years. They’re also unbeaten in the competition at Landsdowne Road since Joe Schmidt became head coach in 2013. Little wonder, then, that the best odds to be found on an Irish victory are 3/10 with Betfair.
However, the hosts certainly won’t be taking Scotland lightly on Saturday, especially after the visitors’ impressive win over England last time out. Ireland were one pass away from losing to Wales in their last game and will be well aware of the threat the improving Scottish team possess.
For all their improvement, winning away from home remains a stumbling block for Gregor Townsend’s side. Since that victory in Ireland in 2010, a win in Italy two years ago stands as their sole away success in the competition. Winning in Dublin would be an even greater achievement than beating England at Murrayfield, but it’s one Betfair clearly doesn’t think is out of the question, with odds of 3/1 on Scotland to win.
Ireland’s main competitor for the 6 Nations crown is England. After relatively straightforward wins over Italy and Wales, the defending champions suffered only their second defeat in 26 games under Eddie Jones. The English players have had two weeks to stew over their loss to Scotland and will be determined to bounce back in Paris.
England have had the upper hand over their old rivals in recent years, winning six of their last eight encounters – and two of those wins came at the Stade de France. Despite the round three results – England losing and France ending their nine-match winless run against Italy – the bookies still expect the visitors to win.
A number of betting sites covering rugby union betting are pricing them at around 4/11. In terms of the stats in this year’s competition so far, the two teams are quite evenly matched. France have actually scored two more points than England in total and have conceded the fewest tries out of all six teams (four).
Their defeats to Ireland and Scotland had a margin of fewer than 10 total points, so Ladbrokes offering odds of 17/10 on England to win by 1-10 points looks appealing to shrewd bettors. Punters looking to back a French win in this week's action can do so at odds of 11/4 with Betway's online sportbook, while a draw is listed at odds of 28/1.
The bookies are expecting Wales v Italy to be the most one-sided match in this weekend’s fixtures by a fairly large margin. The Welsh got their tournament off to an excellent start with a 34-7 win at home to Scotland before narrow defeats in England and Ireland despite the strong start. And Wales has a pretty formidable record against Italy.
In 25 previous meetings between the two nations, Wales have triumphed twenty-two times and Italy just twice, with both of those wins coming on home soil for the Italians. The hosts are overwhelming favourites for this game, although odds do vary quite widely from 1/100 at Ladbrokes to 1/33 at Betstar.
Italy are the only team without a win in this year’s 6 Nations and look set to pick up the wooden spoon for the third time in four years. They have conceded a whopping 136 points – almost twice as many as any other team – including 18 tries. Two of their defeats were by margins of more than 30 points.
Head coach Warren Gatland may experiment with his line up a bit but his side should nevertheless win in Cardiff without too much difficulty. Punters who fancy a long shot can back the Italians to break their duck in Wales at 30/1 with Paddy Power, while William Hill offer 10/11 on Italy with a +30 handicap.