RBS 6 Nations 2011: Round 4 Predictions

With only one wrong so far, I’m in the mix at the right end of the SportGuru tables, but there’s always room for improvement in accuracy. Here are my predictions for the games this weekend.

France v Italy
I’m surprised to see Sebastian Chabal still in the France side, especially at the expense of Imanol Harinordoquy, but it suggests that Marc Lievremont isn’t too worried about overcoming the Italians in Rome. The Italians are yet to name their team, but I’m not expecting any surprises.

I don’t think it will be the walkover that some people are expecting, and Italy should be competitive if they can contain the French pack. However, they lack any real penetration, so it is usually a case of containment and damage limitation on the scoreboard. It could be a cricket score if France get away, but I suspect they’ll be stifled early on and it won’t be as big a score as some people think.

My SportGuru prediction is France by 13

Wales v Ireland

This is the highlight of the weekend for me, and one that could go either way. The two teams seem to be evenly matched: Wales’ confidence is building slightly after a couple of back-to-back victories, whilst Ireland are unlucky not to be unbeaten after a narrow defeat to France.

Ronan O’Gara has been reinstated at fly-half ahead of Jonny Sexton, and his head-to-head with James Hook – on whose shoulders Wales’ hopes seem to rest – will be one to watch. You’d back Hook to show more class, but ROG’s nous in running the game, mixing it up and playing for territory where appropriate could be a deciding factor.

The back row tussle should also be interesting, where talent such as Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip, Sam Warburton and Dan Lydiate will battle it out at the breakdown. I’m leaning towards the Irish to play a little smarter and edge a close one.

My SportGuru prediction is Ireland by 7

England v Scotland

England are unbeaten; Scotland are winless. On paper this should be fairly straightforward, no?

The Scots record at Twickenham is dreadful, but they’d love nothing more than to squash the hype surrounding their oldest enemy. They have a hefty pack and strong lineout options, so could threaten with a territorial game, and England will have to be wary of conceding too many penalties.

But generally, England should have too much for Scotland. Confidence, home advantage, the draw of a potential Grand Slam, and the fact that only one or two Scots would make a combined England-Scotland side are all telling me that England will win. I also have a sneaking suspicion that they’ll win well, particularly if they build an early lead and some of the pressure of a potential slip-up is removed.

My SportGuru prediction is England by 18.