Wales Vs Scotland, 14:00 13/02/2010
Wales:Lee Byrne (Ospreys); Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), James Hook (Ospreys), Jamie Roberts (Cardiff Blues), Shane Williams (Ospreys); Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Gareth Cooper (Cardiff Blues); Paul James (Ospreys), Gareth Williams (Cardiff Blues), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Andy Powell (Cardiff Blues), Martyn Williams (Cardiff Blues), Ryan Jones (Ospreys, captain).
Replacements: Huw Bennett (Ospreys), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Bradley Davies (Cardiff Blues), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues), Richie Rees (Cardiff Blues), Andrew Bishop (Ospreys), Tom Shanklin (Cardiff Blues).
Scotland: C Paterson (Edinburgh); T Evans (Glasgow), S Lamont (Scarlets), G Morrison (Glasgow), R Lamont (Toulon); D Parks (Glasgow), C Cusiter (Glasgow, capt); A Dickinson (Gloucester), R Ford (Edinburgh), E Murray (Northampton), J Hamilton (Edinburgh), A Kellock (Glasgow), K Brown (Glasgow), J Barclay (Glasgow), J Beattie (Glasgow).
Replacements: S Lawson (Gloucester), A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), R Gray (Glasgow), A MacDonald (Edinburgh), M Blair (Edinburgh), P Godman (Edinburgh), M Evans (Glasgow).
Not much to report with either selection. For all his whinging Warren Gatland thankfully managed to keep faith with Alun Wyn-Jones. Fortunately for the Scott’s he has also bizarrely kept Cooper at 9.
Max Evans misses out for Scotland, a little bit inexplicably. If they can find the confidence to support line breakers they may well be in with a decent chance of winning. I can’t wait to see who Warren will blame this week if they do.
Tip: Scotland by 1-5 points 15/2 @bet365
France Vs Ireland, 16:30 13/02/2010
France: Clement Poitrenaud (Toulouse); Vincent Clerc (Toulouse), Mathieu Bastareaud (Stade Francais), Yannick Jauzion (Toulouse), Alexis Palisson (Brive); Francois Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), Morgan Parra (Clermont); Thomas Domingo (Clermont), William Servat (Toulouse), Nicolas Mas (Perpignan), Lionel Nallet (Racing Metro), Pascal Pape (Stade Francais), Thierry Dusautoir (capt, Toulouse), Fulgence Ouedraogo (Montpellier), Imanol Harinordoquy (Biarritz).
Replacements: Dimitri Szarzewski (Stade Francais), Sylvain Marconnet (Stade Francais), Julien Pierre (Clermont), Julien Bonnaire (Clermont), Frederic Michalak (Toulouse), David Marty (Perpignan), Julien Malzieu (Clermont).
Ireland: R Kearney (Leinster), T Bowe (Ospreys), B O’Driscoll (capt), G D’Arcy (both Leinster), K Earls, R O’Gara, T O’Leary (all Munster); C Healy (Leinster), J Flannery, J Hayes (both Munster), L Cullen (Leinster), P O’Connell (Munster), AN Other, D Wallace (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster).
Replacements (from): R Best, T Court (both Ulster), D Ryan (Munster), S O’Brien, K McLaughlin, E Reddan, J Sexton (all Leinster), P Wallace, A Trimble (both Ulster).
Well, here is a game. There have been sensible comments aplenty out of the Irish camp, need to stay with them in the opening twenty, can’t let them build up a lead before half time. The problem is simple. These things are a lot easier to say than do.
France in patches against Scotland looked to have the makings of a great side. They should provide a great game, game of the tournament if it wasn’t so early on. I’m as fearful as I am excited about the duel between O’Driscoll and Bastareaud, I have visions of BOD gingerly walking off the field clutching an arm or shoulder. Hopefully for the sake of the rest of the Championship, its just a bad dream.
Tip: Double Result: France-Ireland 7/1 @bet365
Italy Vs England, 14:30 14/02/09
England: Delon Armitage (London Irish); Mark Cueto (Sale), Mathew Tait (Sale), Riki Flutey (Brive), Ugo Monye (Harlequins); Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon), Danny Care (Harlequins); Tim Payne (Wasps), Dylan Hartley (Northampton), Dan Cole (Leicester), Simon Shaw (Wasps), Steve Borthwick (Saracens, captain), James Haskell (Stade Francais), Lewis Moody (Leicester), Nick Easter (Harlequins).
Italy Squad: Backs: Luke McLean, Andrea Masi, Kaine Robertson, Alberto Sgarbi, Gonzalo Canale, Gonzalo Garcia, Mirco Bergamasco; Riccardo Bocchino, Craig Gower, Pablo Canavosio, Tito Tebaldi;
Forwards: Matias Aguero, Salvatore Perugini, Martin Castrogiovanni, Lorenzo Cittadini; Leonardo Ghiraldini (captain), Fabio Ongaro; Marco Bortolami, Quintin Geldenhuys; Valerie Bernabo, Paul Derbyshire, Josh Sole, Mauro Bergamasco, Alessandro Zanni.
On the back of both their performances last week, the Italians could be well on their way to a nasty hiding. I sincerely hope I’m wrong but out of all the three tips this is the one I’m most confident of coming in:
Tip: Handicap England -21.5 @bet365
Incidentally, the treble comes in at a healthy 189/1