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Nic Ladds 12th Feb 2010 - 14:26

Ireland may have to wait to end their Paris duck

Saturday sees the game that many feel will ultimately who will go on and win this year's Six Nations, Ireland or France and it is advantage to the French as they are at home and as a result are at odds of 1/2 to see off 17/10 Ireland.

Both sides registered victories in their opening games but both came in for criticism with Ireland becoming impotent in the second half against Italy and France doing little with the huge amount of possession they had against Scotland.

Nevertheless they both won and Ireland arrive at the Stade de France having not won on French shores for 10 years and that victory is their only one since 1972 in Paris.

As a result, France are asked to give up six points on the handicap at 10/11, a line that through the years they would usually have covered but not last year with defeat in Dublin or the year before where they saw off the Irish by five and this year looks just as close.

Some titanic battles and many questions about strategy form the plot of this game, which should be the highlight of the tournament. Bastareud v O'Driscoll, Harinordiquy v Heaslip and will France continue their rush defence which worked so well against Scotland but could leave them horribly exposed against the tricky men in green.

Ireland have experience in the backs and in O'Driscoll (14/1 for first try) and Gordon D'Arcy (20/1) they have the years of international experience perhaps to outgun the exciting Mathieu Basteraud (14/1) and Yannick Jauzion (16/1).

Tommy Bowe (11/1) and Rob Kearney (16/1) bring the powerful running and are matched up by Vincent Clerc (10/1) and Alexis Palisson (11/1) and the tough tackling Irish centres will have to be particularly aware of Basteraud's ferocious forward runs.

France will feel they can win this in the pack though as they truly have a set of monsters, but monsters that can play rugby although the Irish pack wasn't roughed by Italy as much as everyone thought they would be, France's front eight are a different entity altogether.

The games between these two are usually fast paced and full of opportunity and a back of over 39 points at even money looks a great bet, while under 37 is evens and 37-39 points is 15/2.

This looks tight all over the pitch and therefore there is no reason to think either side will run away with this and if you don't like the handicap then perhaps France by 1-5 points at 9/2 could be for you with 6-10 also at 9/2 while the same margins of victory to Ireland are at 11/2 and 15/2 respectively.

This is going to be phenomenal, a game you will not want to miss and taking everything in to account, France by a whisker is this writer's conclusion. If the home side's defence gets it wrong then they could end up very embarrassed indeed with Ireland seizing upon all mistakes and making the French pay.

Don't expect to see the sulky France that their backers dread turning up as this game will most like be the most important they will play in this tournament and given their home record against the Irish, France by 1-5 at 9/2 looks worth a bet and wouldn't put anyone off the handicap tie at 16/1, while look no further than France's rejuvenated centre Basteraud to score a try at 5/2 to add to his two in the first game.

So sit back, enjoy and get ready for fireworks, oh and let's keep the football out of this, for anyone unsure of the rules we can assure you, this time you are encouraged to use your hands.

 
 
 

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