The Six Nations is back this weekend with England facing a tough visit to the Principality Stadium as Wales look to extend their unbeaten run and the hosts can certainly count on the support of Sir Ian Botham. Eddie Jones side have been beaten in seven of their last ten games when visiting the Welsh fortress and this fixture could be decided by Wales suffocating gameplan.  

Meanwhile, Italy who are yet to trouble the tournaments point scorers, host an Ireland side that have been winless so far this championship. Ireland will look to bounce back after their disappointing loss to France in the second round.

We preview both of this week’s fixtures below.

Saturday – Italy v Ireland, 14:15 

Italy came away from their fixture against England at Twickenham bruised having conceded six tries as the hosts dominated the European side. Italy could hardly have got off to a better start when winger Monty Loane put the visitors ahead after a few minutes, but England slowly battled back and, in the end, secured a decisive victory.

Ireland are very much a team in transition and that has been reflected in their results so far in this tournament. Andy Farrell will be looking towards this fixture as a way to solidify their new style of play and display a ruthless performance against a struggling side.

The handicap margin reflects this and is set at a 22-point margin with Ireland (-22) a 10/11 shot. If Ireland settle in to their gameplan early they have the potential to chase a bonus point and inflict damage on the hosts. 

Saturday – Wales v England, 16:45 

This fixture is always a highlight of the Six Nations campaign, and the Principality Stadium is one of the more intense venues on the International circuit. England will need to put in a solid performance if they want to have any chance of defending their Six Nations title. They managed a convincing win against the Italians in the second round, but it was hardly a championship performance, and the English squad will know what’s at stake here.

Eddie Jones will know some of his key players such as Billy Vunipola have not been performing so far and will have some key selection decisions to make. While Wayne Pivac’s side has seen some impressive performances from the junior ranks in recent weeks, none more so than James Botham, grandson of England cricket legend Sir Ian.

Despite this challenge, England remain favourites to settle the fixture at 2/5 and Wales are set at 2/1 to notch another Principality victory. The handicap margin is set at a 7-point margin with England (-7) a 10/11 chance. This looks to be a thrilling match up and will certainly decide England’s fate in the tournament.

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