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Nic Ladds 19th Mar 2010 - 10:46

Grand Slam man Lievremont can give Jonno the final shove

If previous form in this Six Nations is anything to go by punters will be falling over each other to get some of the 1/6 about France to beat 5/1 England as a real hammering, Gallic style looks on the cards for Martin Johnson's side, but should punters exercise some caution before piling in to Les Bleus?

Apart from lumping on France being a good way an early grave due to their tendency to take their foot off the gas later in games, it is worth noting that England have won their last three encounters in the with the French, including twice in Paris.

England fans will fondly remember the battering France got at Twickenham which stunned many, angered the nation and talk of revenge has been the hot topic of conversation in the French sports pages.

Marc Lievremont though should have no reason to be overly worried, his side are on for the Grand Slam and they look a much more settled unit than in previous years with few team changes and an awesome pack.

Johnson meanwhile has finally swung the axe on his underperforming players, bringing in Northampton duo Chris Ashton (12/1 for first try) and Ben Foden (16/1) at wing and full back respectively, while Toby Flood (28/1) starts at fly half for the past - it Johnny Wilkinson and Mike Tindall (16/1) comes in at centre, but bizarrely James Haskell is dropped to the bench which is a shame as the Stade Francais man would be more than fired up for this encounter.

These changes are what England need, and what could save Jonno the sack but why he has waited until the final and indeed hardest game to make them stinks of desperation and the settled French juggernaut gets wheeled out again in a bid to crush England.

Imanol Harinordiquy has shown all tournament why he is one of the most dangerous back rowers in the world and his odds of 14/1 to score first try demonstrate how much of a threat he is while admirable support from Julien Bonnaire (22/1) and Thierry Dusautoir (25/1) could win the French the game.

In the backs, Alexis Palisson (10/1) looks to cement his place on the wing along with Marc Andreu (11/1) while the dangerous centre partnership of Mathieu Bastareaud (14/1) and Yannick Jauzion (14/1) is reunited so get ready for some almighty clashes in the midfield.

The handicap has France giving up 10 points at odds of 10/11, a margin that 12 months ago would look very tricky, but what a difference a year makes and the way England have been playing, the home side could quite easily put 40 odd points on them.

Some bets you may like to look at are the highest scoring half being the first half at even money as expect both sides to come out flying while both have history of petering out in the second, while England have struggled for tries all tournament so the first team try being a French one at 4/7 could be the weekend's banker.

If and it is an absolutely huge if, the changes to England have an instant impact and France bottle it once again on the big stage then the away side have a chance, but this writer feels that two years of building up to this will see Les Bleus win this as the form book suggests they should - at a canter.

This could finally spell the end of the reign of Johnson which would see the country breath a sigh of relief and while it would be wonderful for England to beat France in their own back yard, the head must rule the heart and expect to see plenty of smiling Frenchmen as the Grand Slam returns to Paris.


France -10 - 10/11

First half the highest scoring half - evens


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