We’re back to RBS Six Nations action this weekend after a week’s break that seemed to last forever. The six games so far have largely finished as expected, even if the manner of victory has been a little unexpected at times. This week though, I have a feeling there might be an upset on the cards.
The three matches this weekend seem very difficult to predict, and whilst I do sense an upset, unfortunately, I don’t know which game it will be.
Tonight is a huge match for Wales, and a win at the Millennium Stadium tonight could put their season back on track immediately. Following a couple of dodgy performances, the armchair analysts have been out in force to assess what is going wrong, but a victory over the Grand Slam favourites would banish memories of those sub-standard showings.
There are still injury issues for the Welsh in the front five, with Lions Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees and Alun Wyn Jones all ruled out, leaving a relatively inexperienced forward pack – this is crucial for me, and a big factor in my prediction.
France have been playing superbly, and although they aren’t without injury issues, the players they have lost in Benjamin Fall and Pascal Pape aren’t quite so prominent, and their replacements – Sebastian Chabal and Julien Malzieu – are pretty handy anyway.
Much will be made of the showdown in midfield, with Jamie Roberts and James Hook lining up against Yanick Jauzion and Mathieu Basteraud. Whilst I think Basteraud is overrated at this stage, he’ll probably take some pleasure in mowing down Hook, and if France enjoy most of the possession thanks to their stronger front five, it could get quite unpleasant for the Welsh.
I’m certainly not ruling out a Welsh win, and if they play with pace and ambition and put France on the back foot, it could be their night. However, France appear to be stronger in every department, and the sensible money in on Marc Lievremont’s side.
My SportGuru prediction is France by 13.