Shaun Goosen takes a look at the two Six Nations fixtures set to take place on Saturday 22 February. Things get underway at the Stadio Olimpico where cellar-dwellers, Italy and Scotland lock horns before we head to the Principality Stadium for a tasty looking clash between Wales and France.
Saturday 22 February
Italy v Scotland
To Win (80 mins)
Italy (+7.5) 9/10
Scotland (-7.5) 9/10
Italy will get their best chance to break their Six Nations hoodoo when they host Scotland at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.
The Azzurri haven’t won in the competition since 2015. This season, they opened their account with successive losses to Wales and France.
And yet, there have been promising signs from Franco Smith’s men with some going as far as to suggest they may just be one performance away from truly clicking as a unit. With some proper quality in their ranks, that performance could very well be here at their first home clash this season.
Naturally, the Scots will have different ideas. Stuart Hogg’s men will still feel aggrieved at having let both of their opening two fixtures slip through their fingers and will target this weekend’s clash in Rome as a genuine must win.
That hurt is likely to spur them on here. Despite the Finn Russell saga set to continue indefinitely, the Brave Hearts won’t back down and should come away with the goods.
Verdict: Scotland (-7.5) 9/10
This one will be very tightly contested, but I’m expecting Scotland to narrowly clear the handicap.
Wales v France
To Win (80 mins)
Wales (-5.5) 9/10
France (+5.5) 9/10
France’s title credentials will face their biggest litmus test when Les Bleu clash with Wales at the Principality Stadium on Saturday.
Fabien Galthié’s charges have been enormously improved in 2020. Since the former scrumhalf took over at the helm, they’ve conspired to convincingly defeat England in the first round before mauling the Italians a fortnight ago.
With a young side – led by the devastating Charles Ollivon – that looks set to stick together right through to the next World Cup, supporters of the Les Bleu can finally feel confident of consistently challenging the world’s best teams once more.
Wales at home, though, will offer their biggest test yet. Despite their loss to the Irish in Dublin, the Dragons are always a formidable force at home.
Wayne Pivac’s side are still experimenting with their newfound expansive approach. They can ill-afford any handling errors coming up against a team with as many electrifying counter-attackers as the French, and so decision-making will be key here.
Verdict: Wales (-5.5) 9/10
We’re on the minus again, although recent history has suggested that this will be a close encounter. Expect a partizan Welsh crowed to get the hosts over the line with a bit to spare.
Written by Shaun Goosen for Hollywoodbets.