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Six Nations round five tips and predictions from Graham Woods

Spring must be in the air as the Six Nations reaches its conclusion and three fascinating matches are packed into one final Super Saturday.

Graham Woods’ Six Nations round five tips

Wales to beat Italy by one to 12 points @ 8/5
Ireland -15 v Scotland @
Over 50 points in England v France @

Odds displayed were correct at the time of writing and subject to fluctuation.

Six Nations

Setting the scene…

The Grand Slam is gone for Ireland but they are still huge odds-on to take the Six Nations title as all they need is to avoid defeat at home to Scotland.

Both teams are smarting from defeat last week and another loss for Ireland could open the door for England - possibly France and Scotland too - to steal the trophy.

Wales can make good on their promise

The final round opens with a wooden spoon contest in Cardiff, where Wales are playing catch-up as they lag four points behind Italy.

This campaign was always going to be tough for Wales, who lost a host of big-name players after last autumn’s Rugby World Cup, but the Azzurri can take plenty of positives.

Their last visit to Wales produced a thrilling finale as Ange Capuozzo conjured up a last-minute winning try, but the young back misses out through injury.

However, Louis Lynagh’s try on his debut last week underlined that there’s no shortage of talent in Italy’s back three.

They are rated eight-point underdogs. It’s the first time their handicap start has been in single figures for a trip to Cardiff - the line was 29 before 2022’s shock win.

Wales haven’t caught the eye in the same way, but coach Warren Gatland has insisted his young squad has the makings of a strong team.

The way they took the game to England and France in the first half - as well as their second half fightback against Scotland - shows the potential in their ranks.

They were overpowered in the last half-hour by France last week, but Italy don’t pose the same kind of physical challenge and may find it hard to come down from the euphoria of last week against a desperate Wales side.

Graham Woods' tips

The hosts are 5/14 to claim a win, but while those short odds don’t offer much upside, backing a victory by no more than 12 points at 8/5 appeals more.

Irresistible Ireland have title in their sights

Losing has become an unusual experience for Andy Farrell’s Ireland.

Many wondered how they would start this campaign after a disappointing World Cup exit but they blew away France 38-17, while their last Six Nations defeat before the loss to England - a 30-24 reverse to France in February 2022 - was followed by a 57-6 demolition of Italy.

Scotland are the team in the firing line on Saturday and they are smarting too after last week’s surprise defeat to Italy. They have blown hot and cold again this year, but may be powerless in the face of an Ireland backlash.

It’s more than just setting the record straight for Ireland as they have the title in their sights.

Their success has been built on structured play in attack and defence that has been irresistible at times and without doubt that point has been hammered home in training all week following their defeat at Twickenham.

Graham Woods' tips

Expect Ireland to come out firing and show no mercy. They have won 11 of their 12 home matches against Scotland in the Six Nations and eight of those victories have come by 18 points or more, including most recently in 2022 when they triumphed 26-5.

Therefore Ireland to cover a -18 handicap at 10/11 makes plenty of sense.

Score could spiral in Lyon

Cast your minds back to 2015, when the the Six Nations title went down to the final game and England’s showdown with France at Twickenham.

England had to win by 26 points and fell just short, winning 55-35 in a 12-try bonanza.

The title may not be on the line this time - Ireland need only to avoid defeat at home to Scotland earlier on Saturday to lift the trophy - but we could still be in for another open contest.

France have disappointed their home fans this season, losing to Ireland in Marseille before drawing with Italy in Lille, but coach Fabien Galthie has stuck with the young, exciting team who landed a big win in Wales last week.

That includes 21-year-old scrum-half Nolan Le Garrec, man of the match in Cardiff, and winger Louis Bielle-Biarrey, while Thomas Ramos is again in the unfamiliar fly-half role adding a random element.

Graham Woods' tip

England have shown little in attack this year and winger Immanuel Feyi-Waboso is injured, but with Marcus Smith back on the bench and Manu Tuilagi fit to join him, England have the weapons to open up against a big physical French side who have looked vulnerable against pace.

The visitors can ensure the score keeps ticking over up to the final whistle, with over 50 points in the match a decent option at 1/1.

Graham Woods’ Six Nations round five tips

Wales to beat Italy by one to 12 points @ 8-5
Ireland -15 v Scotland @
Over 50 points in England v France @

Odds displayed were correct at the time of writing and subject to fluctuation.

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