This famous tournament – which resumes on Saturday 9 March with two rounds left to play – never fails to disappoint.
Italy, Scotland and France might be out of the picture but the Grand Slam dream is still very much alive for Wales.
If results go their way, England have an outside chance of tournament victory. And Ireland could even nick it on the final weekend – just in time for St Patrick’s Day.
There’s plenty still up for grabs – and plenty to win for players and punters alike. Here are our best picks after round three.
After a stuttering start, Wales stunned everyone – everyone but head coach Warren Gatland – by beating an in-form England in Cardiff. It extended their winning streak to 12 matches in a row, eclipsing a century old record, and leaves them top of the tree after three rounds.
Win their remaining two away to Scotland and at home to Ireland and they’ll clinch a historic Grand Slam for the first time since 2012 – best priced at 15/8 with Betfair (having shortened from 8/1 at the start of the tournament).
Fun fact: Wales are the only international side with a better than 50% win record over Joe Schmidt's Ireland. An upset is best priced at 5/4 with Bet Victor.
Wales might be in the box seat, but try telling that to the bookies. They’ve priced England as firm favourites for the championship – at 8/13 with Bet365 – and it’s proving a popular bet.
Think the Wales loss was a blip, following crushing wins over pre-tournament favourites Ireland and France? Win handsomely at home to Italy and Scotland, with bonus points to boot putting them on a total of 20 points, and even if they finish level with Wales their points difference will surely be too much to match.
Perhaps. But you should proceed with caution. An extra three points are awarded to any team that scoops the Grand Slam, meaning even with two narrow wins, Wales would finish on a minimum of 23 points. In other words, it’s Wales’ Six Nations to lose.
Whatever happens in the final rounds, you can expect England’s backs to feature heavily on the scoresheet. As the leading scorer with four tries, Jonny May is 4/6 to finish top with Betfair but centre Henry Slade (two tries so far) at 6/1 with Bet365 could run him close – especially with slight concerns over May’s fitness following a potential concussion.
Following their first ever series win Down Under and their first home victory over the All Blacks, a first back-to-back Grand Slam was firmly in Ireland's sights, but a shock defeat to England on home soil put that notion to bed.
They bounced back with victory over Scotland in Murrayfield and kept their tournament hopes alive with a bonus point win over Italy. Now with all the focus on Wales and England, could Ireland still sneak into championship contention?
Technically, yes. They could finish on a maximum of 19 points, but with points difference heavily in England’s favour, they’d have to rely on Scotland winning in Twickenham in the final match of the Six Nations – something they last did in 1983. It’s unlikely.
Instead, there’s value to be had in try-scoring machine Jacob Stockdale at 7/5 (Betfair) to finish up as Ireland's top try scorer. With a flaky France yet to come to Dublin and May’s fitness concerns, last season’s top tryscorer isn’t a bad shout at 33/1 with 888Sport to top the tournament try-scoring charts again.
The bookies hold little hope for France or Scotland to claim their first title since 2010 and 1999 respectively, presumably due to each sides' inability to muster a performance away from home.
You have to rewind five tournaments, back to March 2014, for the last time either side won away in the tournament anywhere other than Italy. That year France scraped a narrow 19-17 win over Scotland.
Despite France’s woeful start to the tournament, including surrendering a 16-0 halftime lead against Wales, there were green shoots of a Gallic revival in a confidence boosting bonus point win over Scotland in round three.
That win was largely masterminded by France’s Junior World Cup winning stars. If coach Jacques Brunel sticks with them – and it’s a big if given his tendency to make sweeping changes – they should secure a face-saving fourth place finish (4/6 with Betfair).
That would leave a depleted Scotland – with grand ambitions at the start – languishing in second bottom (1/2 with Bet365). Gregor Townsend’s men could still play a big part in the final shake up and they have a proud home record at Murrayfield to restore.
Eternally heroic in defeat, eternally the tournaments whipping boys. You have to wind the clock back to 2013 for the last time Italy climbed off the foot of the table and with 22 straight Six Nations defeats, they won’t manage it this year.
However, Ladbrokes are serving up a tournament special, offering odds on whether the Azzurri will score more than 25 points in any of their matches, with yes at 2/1 and no at 4/11. The closest they’ve come so far is 20 against Scotland on the opening day and with a leaky France to come on the final day there’s still hope.Odds are subject to change.
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