The 2022 Six Nations Championship returns after the second and last of two bye-weeks with three more exciting international fixtures.
Our record for predictions this tournament now stands at seven out of nine following a clean sweep in Round Three as France won at Murrayfield, Ireland brushed aside Italy and England just edged it against Wales.
It was a difficult round to predict and this weekend’s fixtures look to provide many of the same challenges, including how much of a defence Wales can put up against a magnificent France side, and who actually are favourites as Ireland head to Twickenham.
Here are our predictions for the week four matches:
Wales v France
- Date: Friday, March 11
- Kick off: 20:00
- Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff
- Odds: Wales 16/5, France 1/4
What a fixture to kick the weekend off under the Friday night lights at the Principality Stadium as Wales look to put a major dent in France’s title hopes.
Wales have improved in each match of this tournament so far and were desperately unlucky at Twickenham when they came up just short in a 23-19 defeat.
Their improvement from their opening weekend humbling against Ireland and Round Two win at home to Scotland has coincided with the return from injury of key figures like Taulupe Faletau.
They will welcome back another British & Irish Lions back rower for their encounter with France as Josh Navidi returns to the starting XV which will be another massive boost for Wayne Pivac.
However, it looks like even a full strength Wales side or the Lions themselves wouldn’t be able to stop the juggernaut that is this France team.
Any questions about their bottle, or lack of, at tough away venues was exorcised when they dismantled Scotland at Murrayfield.
A 36-17 scoreline suggests a somewhat one sided affair, and it was for large parts but not because Scotland were particularly poor, but because the visitors were just the far better team.
Going to Cardiff is another tough test for sure, but if they come up with a similar display to the one they produced in Edinburgh, Wales will likely be powerless to prevent them running in the scores.
Our prediction: France to win by a 10 to 15 point margin
Italy v Scotland
- Date: Saturday, March 12
- Kick off: 14:15
- Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome
- Odds: Italy 8/1, Scotland 1/14
It could have perhaps been a different outcome in Edinburgh, had big moments and big mistakes not hampered Scotland against France.
For as good as the French were, and even a classically brilliant Scotland performance might not have been enough to stop them, Gregor Townsend was let down by below par showings from key players like Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg.
They will likely ring the changes for their trip to Rome with Adam Hastings being called up to the squad to potentially start at 10 while Blair Kinghorn could also be in line for a start.
The important thing will be that these players are properly rewarded should they put in strong performances in Rome and Townsend could do that by keeping faith in them for their final fixture against Ireland.
They need to be alert to the threat that Italy will pose but, as with every other side in the Championship, the Scots should have more than enough quality to win comfortably.
As for Italy, there was nothing to learn from their 57-6 defeat to Ireland as they had to play an hour of the match with just 13 men.
The Azzurri will likely view this weekend’s match as their best chance of getting a win in this year’s tournament but they will need to improve greatly from their performances in Rounds One and Two.
Kieran Crowley will have identified weaknesses in this Scotland side that they can exploit after seeing their scrappy display against France, but actually winning their first game since 2015 will be far easier said than done.
Our Prediction: Scotland to win by 20 to 30 points
England v Ireland
- Date: Saturday, March 12
- Kick off: 16:45
- Venue: Twickenham Stadium, London
- Odds: England 11/10, Ireland 5/6
The betting odds for this match are a perfect reflection of just how difficult the result is to predict.
Ireland’s position as pre-match favourites by the slightest of margins is probably a fair one, based on how the Championship has played out for both nations so far.
England, like Wales, have improved game after game this year and although they didn’t dominate against Wales, their performance was night and day compared to Round One at Murrayfield.
As for Ireland, they were professional in their dismantling of 13 man Italy.
This match has massive title implications for both sides with an England win setting up a showdown for the trophy in the final game of the competition as Eddie Jones’ side take on France.
Ireland’s fate isn’t in their own hands, they will need to do the job in this match and against Scotland next week, and hope that Wales or England can put France to the sword.
Andy Farrell’s side are also still chasing the Triple Crown title and they could probably be satisfied with a Six Nations where they lift that trophy and win five out of six games.
There’s so much to play for in this one and it has the potential to be the best contest of the tournament so far.
Our prediction:Ireland to win by 5 to 10 points
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