This year’s Six Nations is on a knife edge with just one point separating England, France and Ireland ahead of the final round of fixtures on Saturday.

It’s set to be an enthralling finish to the tournament and here is our preview of the matches involving those three sides.

Italy v England

England head to Rome on Saturday knowing a win against Italy could seal the Six Nations title if the result of the France-Ireland match goes their way. Coach Eddie Jones has picked the side most people thought he would, but there is one new inclusion with Exeter’s Jonny Hill making his debut in the second row.

Jones’ side must win with a bonus point to have any chance of winning the Six Nations crown and they’ll fancy their chances of putting on a show against their hosts who shipped 50 points against Ireland last weekend. Given the gulf in class between the two sides, it’s unsurprising that England come into this one as the 1/100 favourites, with the visitors just 1/12 to be leading after 40 minutes.

As mentioned, Italy were thumped by Ireland last weekend and as has become customary they looked decent in attack, but defensively they still struggle to keep out the better teams. There are definitely things to work with, but until they sure up their leaky defence, Italy are always going to struggle against the better sides. Franco Smith’s side are the big outsiders for this one at 25/1, but with that looking unlikely, you can back them with a 32-point headstart at 10/11.

France v Ireland

What a cracker this could be! Two of the top three in the table facing off in Paris with what could a winner takes all contest. France will know that a bonus point victory is almost certainly needed given England’s likelihood of beating Italy convincingly earlier in the day, but against a side with the quality of Ireland, that’s easier said than done.

The hosts warmed up for this one with an impressive 38-21 victory over Wales and although that was effectively a friendly, France showed plenty to suggest they are going to be a very tough nut to crack. There used to be concerns about their bottle under pressure but Fabien Galthie seems to have righted those wrongs and they’ve played some fine rugby in the competition so far.

With home-field advantage, the French are the 8/15 favourites for this one with the handicap set at four points. France -4 is a 10/11 chance.

Ireland will know that if the likely happens and England beat Italy easily then, like France, they’ll probably need a bonus point to win the title. Their points difference is significantly higher than the other two sides, but you’d expect England to make significant inroads into that against Italy, so Ireland will be wanting a full five-point victory here. They looked good against the Italians last weekend, but France in Paris is a totally different kettle of fish and a win, let alone five points, will be a tough ask.

Ireland are the 6/4 underdogs here which could tempt a few, but it might be worth backing them on the handicap at 10/11 as this one has the feeling of a closely-run affair.

England, meanwhile, are the 3/10 favourites for the Six Nations crown, with Ireland following at 3/1 and France at 12/1.

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