2018 Six Nations: France v Italy Preview

Players attempt to score a try

The Six Nations starts again this coming week with France and Italy set to get proceedings underway on Friday the 23rd of February.

Continental European rivals, France and Italy will go head-to-head this Friday evening in a fixture that may prove more interesting because of its scheduled kick-off slot rather than the rugby action. Recent clashes between these two sides have tended to produce rather dour rugby with the French typically winning the fixture by 20 points or more. There have been a few tighter matches mixed amongst the status quo over the past decade, with an Italian near miss in 2016 and their victory in 2013 being two of the more memorable fixtures.

France v Italy
Friday 23 September
Stade Velodrome

21:00

To Win (80 Mins)
France 1/14

Draw 33/1
Italy 6/1

Handicap
France (-17.5) 9/10
Italy (+17.5) 9/10


France
Le Bleu got their campaign off to a rather disappointing start losing their first two fixtures when victory looked within arms reach in both. They were done in Paris on the opening day by an absolute blinder of a Johnny Sexton dropkick. While Round 2 saw them go down to Scotland by six points, in a game in which they started like a house on fire.

While they have only two log points to show for their endeavours, the French should feel proud as they are playing a much more enterprising brand of rugby. A brand that their forefathers would be proud of.

The French do enjoy a tussle on home soil against the Italians. Le Bleu last lost at home to their neighbours in 1995. While their only other three defeats to the Italians all came in Rome.

Italy
The last segment of the French write up illustrates the mountain the Italians have to climb this weekend. There is hope, however, as they have managed to get the better of their opponents a few times in the past seven years, albeit not at home. Those victories came in 2011 and 2013 while, as touched upon earlier, the Italians gave the French a scare in 2016 when they the game at the Stade de France ended 23-21 in favour of the hosts.

Like France, Italy have also been far improved this term. They gave a decent enough first half account of themselves against the English and had their moments against the Irish. The problem for Italy though is that those two games ended in defeats in excess of 30 points. Those results aren't ones that really inspire confidence when you are playing against a side who have run both Ireland and England close over the past 12 months.

Verdict: Italy (+17.5) 9/10
Here's where things get interesting. The French squad last eight players due to that now infamous night out in Scotland. Now, these were good players. Just look at the names: Louis Picamoles, Anthony Belleau, Jonathan Danty, Remi Lamerat, Yacouba Camara and Felix Lambey. I think the Italians will be able to stay in the game for its entirety with these impact players M.I.A. As such, I'm on the Italian plus this weekend.

 Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets.net

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