It’s nearly time! We’re just hours from the kick-off in the 2011 RBS Six Nations, and whilst everyone is talking about who is going to win this weekend, here are my predictions.
Wales v England
What a prospect to open the tournament at the Millennium Stadium on Friday night. The noise will be deafening, the atmosphere electric, and that could have an impact on the result. If Wales get on top and the crowd get behind them, England could wilt under the pressure.
However, I think England will win. Wales have weaknesses in the front row, and in the back three where Morgan Stoddart is defensively questionable. There is more experience in the pack in general, where Wales look slightly short of leaders to me, and England really ought to get the upper hand up front.
England will have done their homework, and they’ll target those weaknesses as they did against Australia last year. This match is a very different prospect, but they should have too much for the home side.
My SportGuru prediction: England by 6
Italy v Ireland
Italy away on the opening day of the championship is trickier than it sounds. The Azzurri are an irritatingly difficult side to beat, and they’ll be keen to reflect the proud home record of Treviso in the Magners League. With their players significantly more experienced as a result of their inclusion in that tournament, will we see a different Italy this year?
I suspect not. They are still a limited side without any penetration out wide, forcing them to play a narrow game and squeeze the life out of any spectacle. They aren’t particularly exciting to watch, but with a talented pack, sneaking a first-ever victory against Ireland is not out of the question. The Irish are understrength following injuries to various key players, and their tight five is seen as a weakness by some – and this could play into the Italians’ hands.
However, with David Wallace and young sensation Sean O’Brien in their back row, they should have enough up their sleeve to cope with Italy’s gameplan – there’s enough video evidence to suggest how they’ll play, so I suspect there is a plan to counter it. If they win their fair share of ball, which I expect them to do, they’ll certainly have enough out wide.
My SportGuru prediction: Ireland by 8
France v Scotland
Opinions are divided on Scotland’s prospects this year. Some are seeing Andy Robinson’s side as so-called dark horses since their win over South Africa in November, whilst others are remembering their trouncing by New Zealand and expect to see them near the bottom of the final table.
Their pack is looking like their key strength. Instead of choosing two locks from Nathan Hines, Richie Gray and Alastair Kellock, Robinson has picked all three, with Hines at blindside in an attempt to counter the French pack with ballast. Out wide, I’m looking forward to seeing how Joe Ansbro plays in the centres, but there’s not too much else to get excited about there unfortunately.
As a result, I can see the French comfortably absorbing whatever the Scots can muster to throw in their direction, and then unleashing any one of their many weapons to score with apparent ease. Scotland will toil all day and stay in the game – and there’s a chance of them nicking a narrow win, but there’s also a chance of a 20-points or more thrashing.
My SportGuru prediction: France by 13
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