Wales Vs France 20:00, 26/02/2010
Wales: Lee Byrne (Ospreys); Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), James Hook (Ospreys), Jamie Roberts (Blues), Shane Williams (Ospreys); Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Richard Rees (Blues); Paul James, Huw Bennett, Adam Jones (Ospreys), Bradley Davies, Deiniol Jones (Blues), Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys), Martyn Williams (Blues), Ryan Jones (Ospreys, capt) Replacements: Ken Owens (Scarlets), Rhys Gill (Saracens), Luke Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), Sam Warburton (Blues), Mike Phillips (Ospreys), Andrew Bishop (Ospreys) , Tom Shanklin (Blues).
France: Clement Poitrenaud (Toulouse); Benjamin Fall (Bayonne), Mathieu Bastareaud (Stade Francais), Yannick Jauzion (Toulouse), Alexis Palisson (Brive); Francois Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), Morgan Parra (Clermont Auvergne); Thomas Domingo (Clermont Auvergne), William Servat (Toulouse), Nicolas Mas (Perpignan), Lionel Nallet (Racing-Metro), Pascal Pape (Stade Francais), Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse, capt), Julien Bonnaire (Clermont Auvergne), Imanol Harinordoquy (Biarritz).Replacements: Dimitri Szarzewski (Stade Francais), Jean-Baptiste Poux (Toulouse), Julien Pierre (Clermont Auvergne), Alexandre Lapandry (Clermont Auvergne), Frederic Michalak (Toulouse), David Marty (Perpignan), Julien Malzieu (Clermont Auvergne).
Well, well or oui, oui. This has got game of the tournament written all over it. Gatland has thankfully managed to keep his gob shut all week and with the emotive victory over Scotland behind them Wales may be in with a chance. They will have to raise their game considerably though, entertaining as it was, they should have lost a fortnight ago. Alongside of this they need the French to be somewhere way beneath the level that they played at last time out. Which, thankfully for the Welsh, they may well be.
Tip: Double Result: France-Wales 8/1 @bet365
Italy Vs Scotland 13:30, 27/02/2010
Italy (Squad): Matias Aguero (Saracens) Mauro Bergamasco (Stade Francais) Mirco Bergamasco (Stade Francais) Riccardo Bocchino (Femi CZ Rovigo-) Marco Bortolami (Gloucester RFC)Gonzalo Canale (Clermont-Auvergne)Pablo Canavosio (MPS Viadana)Martin Castrogiovanni (Leicester Tigers) Lorenzo Cittadini (Benetton Treviso)Carlo Antonio Del Fava (MPS Viadana) Paul Derbyshire (Petrarca Padova)Gonzalo Garcia (Benetton Treviso) Quintin Geldenhuys (MPS Viadana)Leonardo Ghiraldini (Benetton Treviso) – captain Craig Gower (Bayonne) Andrea Masi (Racing Metro Paris)Luke McLean (Benetton Treviso) Fabio Ongaro (Saracens) Salvatore Perugini (Bayonne) Kaine Paul Robertson (MPS Viadana) Alberto Sgarbi (Benetton Treviso) Josh Sole (MPS Viadana) Tito Tebaldi (Plusvalore Gran Parma) Alessandro Zanni (Benetton Treviso)
Scotland: H Southwell (Stade Francais); S Danielli (Ulster), M Evans (Glasgow), G Morrison (Glasgow), S Lamont (Scarlets); D Parks (Glasgow), C Cusiter (Glasgow, capt); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), 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 Dickinson (Gloucester), N Hines (Leinster), A Strokosch (Gloucester), M Blair (Edinburgh), P Godman (Edinburgh), N De Luca (Edinburgh).
The Scot’s must see this as their chance to shine and deservedly so. I can see nothing more than a healthy victory for them.
Tip: Handicap Scotland -11.5 19/10 @bet365
England Vs Ireland 16:00 27/02/2010
England: D 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).
Replacements: Lee Mears (Bath), David Wilson (Bath), Louis Deacon (Leicester), Joe Worsley (Wasps), Paul Hodgson (London Irish), Toby Flood (Leicester), Ben Foden (Northampton).
Ireland: G Murphy (Leicester), T Bowe (Ospreys), B O’Driscoll (Leinster) capt, G D’Arcy (Leinster), K Earls (Munster), J Sexton (Leinster), T O’Leary (Munster), C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), J Hayes (Munster), D O’Callaghan (Munster), P O’Connell (Munster), S Ferris (Ulster), D Wallace (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster).Replacements: S Cronin (Connacht), T Buckley (Munster), L Cullen (Leinster), S Jennings (Leinster), E Reddan (Leinster), R O’Gara (Munster), A Trimble (Ulster)
The waiting is almost over. England come in after back to back victories Ireland with a disappointingly heavy defeat, it really could go either way. I’m not a subscriber to the view that England have a particularly poor selection of players just that they are playing poorly together, playing poorly but winning also.
Twickenham is an interesting choice for Sextons 6Nations debut, particularly lining up alongside the much maligned O’Leary. Deccie the Leg is so ever so keen on his panel you might think he would excercise this theory at 9. I’m certainly not going to question his judgement on this or Murphy’s inclusion juts hope that come 6pm saturday I leave Twickenham with a smile on my face, I’ve seen them play here 6 times and have yet to see an Irish victory, I’m not sure I could take another loss.
Tip: Ireland by 1-5 points 5/1 @bet365