The Six Nations returns after a fallow week, but only two games remain on the slate after Scotland’s trip to Paris was postponed to a later date thanks to a Covid-19 outbreak in the French camp. Italy host Ireland to begin the round before all eyes turn to Cardiff and undefeated Wales hosting England.
Here is a look at the two remaining games in Round 3:
Italy vs. Ireland
Saturday, February 27 – Stadio Olimpico, Rome
A pair of teams that have lost both of their Six Nations matches so far this tournament will clash in Rome and Andy Farrell continues to look for his first Six Nations win as the head coach of Ireland. He has made seven changes to the side that turned out in Round 2, with their weakness in the set-piece hopefully having been addressed with a new-look front row featuring Dave Kilcoyne, Ronan Kelleher, and Tadhg Furlong. Important names will be back in the lineup following clearance from head injuries with both captain Johnny Sexton and vice-captain James Ryan back in the team. The game comes too soon for scrum-half Conor Murray, however, as he has yet to fully recover from a hamstring issue.
Italy is looking for a win here to avoid their 30th straight Six Nations defeat. The experiment adding them simply hasn’t worked out and even at these odds, their chances of beating Ireland for the first time since 2013 are basically zero. Ireland needs a performance here for their coach and their fans and look for them to not let up at all in covering the 21.5 points spread at 0.90 with BetXChange.
Wales vs. England
Saturday, February 27 – Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Eddie Jones has stuck to his guns and once again picked an experienced and physical England side for the game in Cardiff. The two changes from the team that comfortably dispatched of Italy are hooker Jamie George in for the tigerish Luke Cowan-Dickie and Mark Wilson back into the side as an injury replacement for Courtney Lawes. Owen Farrell and Henry Slade continue at 10 and 12 respectively, while George Martin will be looking to win his first cap off of the bench.
At the other end of the cap spectrum is George North who will be winning his 100th for the Welsh in this contest. He is returning from injury alongside his partner in the midfield Jonathan Davies as two of the five changes for Wayne Pivac’s men. The other changes include Josh Navidi at blindside flanker, a first start in the Six Nations for scrum-half Kieran Hardy, and Josh Adams returning from his Covid-19 rule breaching suspension.
Will Wales find themselves playing against 14 men for the third game in a row and do they need that advantage to win games? Some feel the Welsh are where they are in the standings through smoke and mirrors and expect England to bring them back down to earth here. The spread here is 6.5 which seems low given that Wales hasn’t played at all well in their wins. If England can find their attacking form – Farrell simply has to be better at 10 – then they will easily cover at 0.90 with BetXChange.