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Six Nations Round 2 preview: All eyes on Dublin for heavyweight showdown

After a thrilling first round of the 2023 Six Nations, all eyes are on this weekend’s clashes, with Ireland against France in Dublin on Saturday the pick of the bunch.

There was so little to choose from between the Irish and French before the tournament, so Saturday’s showdown at the Aviva Stadium is likely to go a long way to deciding the destination of the Six Nations trophy.

Eyes of the rugby world on Dublin

WhatIreland v France
WhereAviva Stadium, Dublin
When14:15, Saturday 11th February 2023
How to watchITV1
OddsIreland 4/9, Tie 22/1, France 2/1

This fixture has been getting the deserved hype it requires ever since the 2023 Six Nations schedule was announced.

The top-ranked team in the world in Andy Farrell’s Ireland host the team in second spot in the standings in Fabien Galthie’s France.

Two sides with formidable forwards and exciting runners in the backs, Saturday’s clash in Dublin has the makings of a titanic tussle.

Les Bleus, who are on a 14-game winning streak after edging past Italy in week one, do have the better recent record against the Irish, having won all of their last three meetings in the Six Nations.

Ireland got their 2023 campaign off to a flying start with an impressive 34-10 win in Cardiff against Wales. 

Scoring a point a minute in the first quarter of the game, Farrell’s side blew away a Wales side who looked short of answers at the Principality Stadium.

Ireland will be looking for another strong start in a bid to make sure France don’t get a foothold in the game.

This looks set to be a brutal encounter with the result potentially undecided right up until the final whistle.

The handicap market looks generous for France, who might well fall on the right side of a five-point head start at 1/1.

As for a winner, all eyes will be on Dublin to find out.

Scots eager to back up Calcutta Cup win

WhatScotland v Wales
WhereMurrayfield, Edinburgh
When16:45, Saturday 11th February 2023
How to watchBBC One
OddsScotland 5/13, Tie 22/1, Wales 23/10

Scotland delivered another memorable Calcutta Cup success last weekend to get their 2023 Six Nations campaign off to a perfect start.

A bonus-point win over the ‘Auld Enemy’ at Twickenham last weekend saw the Scots spoil the party in Steve Borthwick’s first game in charge as the new England head coach.

Scotland have been here before, having picked up big one-off wins in the past but there are cries from north of the border for the team to back it up against Wales at Murrayfield.

Wales have sent Scottish hopes crashing in the past and Gatland has never lost a Test match to the Scots while coaching the men in red.

However, Gatland’s side can’t afford the same start they produced against the Irish if they are to haunt the Scots in Edinburgh on Saturday.

Scotland will look to come out of the blocks quickly and should pose threats in their backline, with the likes of Finn Russell, Stuart Hogg and Duhan van der Merwe looking to cause problems.

Van der Merwe’s brace at Twickenham will live long in the memory for Scotland supporters and the Edinburgh winger will be determined to add to his try tally this weekend.

The Scots have only won two of their last 16 games against Wales but, with a determination to not let their win in London go to waste, they might be able to edge this one against the Welsh this weekend.

England expected to respond

WhatEngland v Italy
WhereTwickenham, London
When15:00, Sunday 12th February 2023
How to watchITV1
OddsEngland 1/14, Tie 50/1, Italy 8/1

After the disappointment of another Calcutta Cup defeat to Scotland, England will be determined to put in a performance against Italy this weekend.

There were positives to take from the 29-23 defeat at Twickenham last weekend and Borthwick’s coaching team will look to build on those against the Azzurri.

Italy themselves can take plenty of positives from their 29-24 defeat to France, as they almost shattered Les Bleus’ hopes of a back-to-back Grand Slam in week one.

The Azzurri are no longer a team to be underestimated and there looks to be value with backing Italy to fall on the right side of a +19 handicap at 1/1 on Sunday.

England should come out on top in this encounter to kick-start their Six Nations campaign but it will be interesting to see how long Italy can keep themselves in the contest.

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