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Six Nations Round 5 preview: Johnny Sexton set for perfect end

Johnny Sexton brings down the curtain on his Six Nations career on Saturday when his Grand Slam-chasing Ireland side welcome England to the Aviva Stadium at 17:00.

The Irish have chalked up four victories in this year's edition, adding three bonus points in the process, and a win against the Red Rose would see them complete the Grand Slam for the first time since 2018. 

A triumph in Dublin would also represent the first championship clean sweep for Sexton as Ireland captain, but that is not the only piece of history the fly-half is chasing going into his final Six Nations encounter. 

The 37-year-old, who is his country's fourth most-capped player in the tournament's history, also needs just one point to surpass Ronan O'Gara as the Six Nations' record scorer, with the duo locked on 557. 

First and foremost, Ireland know they need to stay focused and pick up the win over England, otherwise a defeat would allow France the opportunity to retain their title. 

Les Bleus host Wales at 14:45, that clash coming after the 12:30 match between Scotland and Italy at Murrayfield. 

Scots to end on a high

WhatScotland v Italy
WhereMurrayfield, Edinburgh
When12:30, Saturday 18th March
How to watchBBC One
OddsScotland 1/9, Draw 40/1, Italy 6/1

After starting off with victories over England and Wales, there was genuine belief in the Scotland camp that they could win the Six Nations title for the first time and take another huge step forward as a nation. 

However, back-to-back defeats to France and Ireland have seen those hopes fade off into the distance, but there are still enough positives to take in this World Cup year and an entertaining end looks to be in store on Saturday against Italy. 

The Azzurri have lost all four of their matches, leaving them bottom of the pile, but they have received praise for their performances, especially in attack as they have managed 75 points - ahead of Wales and only nine points behind England. 

The Scots are without the talismanic duo of Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell, who have been replaced by Ollie Smith and Blair Kinghorn respectively, but there is enough attacking talent in the side to see them chalk up a third win of the tournament. 

A high-scoring game is expected on Saturday and it may prove prudent to look at Total Points 3-Way (Range), more specifically the 43-63 category at 5/6

In the last 10 meetings between Scotland and Italy, eight of those have seen this bet land. 

Related Rugby Union News

Six Nations: History, key dates and odds

Rugby Today: Six Nations final round approaches

Six Nations: Ireland close in on Grand Slam after beating Scotland

Wales set for tough Paris trip

WhatFrance v Wales
WhereStade de France, Paris
When14:45, Saturday 18th March
How to watchITV
OddsFrance 1/33, Draw 50/1, Wales 12/1

France still have a chance of retaining their Six Nations crown ahead of Saturday's visit of Wales, with Les Bleus second in the standings and four points behind Ireland. 

The Irish are 20 ahead of Fabien Galthie's side on points difference, so the French will need to go all out for the bonus-point victory that would see them move into first and put the pressure on Ireland. 

It is hard to see Wales getting anything but a drubbing in this encounter, with Warren Gatland's men only getting off the mark against Italy last time out and even that wasn't a convincing performance. 

France arrive into the fixture off the back of a 53-10 thrashing of England at Twickenham and confidence will be high as they look to chalk up another heavy win on home soil. 

Les Bleus are the top scorers in this year's Six Nations, amassing 133 points to date, and backing the hosts at -20 on the Handicap at 1/1 in Game Betting 3-Way could be the way to go in this one.  

Grand Slam beckons for Irish

WhatIreland v England
WhereAviva Stadium, Dublin
When17:00, Saturday 18th March
How to watchITV
OddsIreland 1/9, Draw 40/1, England 6/1

With France expected to overcome Wales, Ireland will head into the 17:00 clash against England knowing only a victory will do if they want to lift the Six Nations and, in doing so, complete the Grand Slam. 

Andy Farrell's men have shown why they are the number one ranked side in the world, mixing power up front with guile in the backs to rack up four straight wins. 

The Irish have been impressive in defence, as they have conceded the fewest amount of points (56), while their tally of 122 points scored is only 11 behind the French. 

Visitors England are a wounded side after the Twickenham mauling from Les Bleus and Ellis Genge has promised there will be a reaction from the Red Rose, who are still adjusting to life under new head coach Steve Borthwick. 

The English have been good at the set-piece, performing well at scrums and the line-out, but it is their lack of creativity that is starting to become an issue and this was evident in the France loss. 

England were also dominated at the breakdown last time out, an area they will need to improve on significantly if they are going to stand any chance of coming away from Dublin with a win. 

This meeting may not be the prettiest to watch but Farrell's troops should have enough to get over the line, with the 1/2 on Ireland to win by 1-12 points in Winning Margin 4-Way an appealing price. 

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