Injuries have been a major talking point in the build-up to this year’s tournament but crunch time is now here. Wales and Scotland will do battle in the opening fixture of the competition and that encounter could tell us a lot about both teams.
Ireland and England will expect to get off to the perfect start – a bonus point victory will be the target for Eddie Jones’ side. At the time of writing, England are priced at EVS to emerge victorious for the third year in a row but Ireland are hot on their heels at 8/5.
Joe Schmidt’s men are well equipped to cope with their injury issues and we could be set for a titanic decider at Twickenham Stadium on the final weekend. For now, have a read of our opening weekend treble; Wales lead our top tips...
WALES vs Scotland
Worcester winger Josh Adams will make his Wales debut on Saturday and plenty of punters have backed the 22-year-old to go on and shine throughout the 2018 event. Once priced at 100/1 to finish as the top try scorer, the Aviva Premiership star is now 25/1 in 888sport’s Six Nations betting markets after Warren Gatland’s show of faith.
For Scotland, this year’s competition is about momentum. Gregor Townsend’s men were fantastic in 2017 but all of their success will be forgotten if they fail to compete. A few pundits have tipped Scotland to go on and win the Six Nations title this year and a win in the opener will give Townsend’s side a lift.
Scotland’s last victory in Cardiff came back in 2002 but the visitors will be quietly confident of putting an end to that run here. For me, Gatland’s side may be too strong on home soil and the 7/5 available for a narrow Welsh win is a decent price. Expect a level contest between two well-matched sides…
TIP: Wales to win by 1-12 points @ 7/5
France vs IRELAND
With only one player over the age of 30, new France coach Jacques Brunel has opted to go for youth over experience – but that could give Les Bleus the edge. A victory in the opening fixture could spur the hosts on to enjoy a successful tournament; France could learn a lot from Scotland’s victory over Ireland twelve months ago.
Winning in France is an absolute must if Ireland want to secure the title. Ireland have been plagued by various injury issues in the build-up to this clash but they should have enough quality to get past this new-look French outfit. Watch this space, Ireland could be looking to send out a statement of intent on Saturday evening.
Ireland will take some stopping as they look to regain the Six Nations crown. Schmidt’s men are the second best team in the northern hemisphere and plenty of punters will be backing the visitors to win comfortably in Paris. That may be doing France a disservice but the 12/25 on offer for an away success is worth putting in an accumulator.
TIP: Ireland to win @ 12/25
Italy vs ENGLAND
Italy have been slightly more fortunate than their rivals on the injury front but head coach Conor O’Shea will know the size of the task ahead. England scored five tries on their previous trip to Rome and the hosts will need a minor miracle to stand any chance. In 23 Tests, Italy have mustered just 290 points against England – the Red Rose have scored 918.
Chris Robshaw, Maro Itoje and Mike Brown have all passed late fitness tests to feature this weekend and it could be a glorious trip to Rome for England fans. Cast your minds back to the 2017 fixture, Jones was left seething after O’Shea exploited one of the laws in the game to frustrate England at Twickenham.
The Red Rose improved in the second half on that day and Jones’ side look well priced at 2/5 to win both halves this time around. England will want to get off to a quick start and Owen Farrell, 8/5 to finish as the top points scorer in the competition, could be the difference maker if given the freedom to wreak havoc.
TIP: England to win both halves @ 2/5
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*