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Six Nations betting tips: Ireland and France set for Dublin arm-wrestle

It's only week two of the Six Nations and, already, a possible title-decider is pencilled in for Dublin as Racing Post's Graham Woods delivers his best bets for the weekend action.

Tournament favourites Ireland and France racked up bonus-point wins in round one of the Six Nations and they meet on Saturday in what has been billed even at this early stage as a title-decider. 

Scotland, who pulled off a surprise win over England at Twickenham take on Wales, while England face Italy on Sunday, and the stage is set for another set of fascinating contests.

Best bets

Under 44 points in Ireland v France @ 1/1

Scotland to beat Wales by one to 12 points @ 11/8

Christ Tshiunza to score a try in Scotland v Wales @ 11/2

Over 38.5 England points v Italy @ 10/11

Physical France pose particular test for Ireland

France nailed a Grand Slam last year after coming through their toughest test at home to Ireland with a 30-24 success, but this year the roles are reversed and Ireland are five-point favourites in Dublin.

Nonetheless, France will see this as a winnable game and were successful on their last trip to the Aviva Stadium, edging the hosts 15-13.

History tells us this is a hard, close-fought game. In 11 Six Nations meetings in Dublin, Ireland have won six times, France four, and there has been one draw - 13-13 in 2013. 

The winning margin has never been greater than 12 points and four of the last five matches have produced fewer than 30 points. Only once in this century has this fixture reached 50 points.

Defeat in Paris last year plus a reverse in the first Test in New Zealand are the only losses Ireland suffered last year while France are on an unbeaten run of 14 games and have won their last three contests with Ireland.

They will point to their greater physicality and the fact that Ireland were pushed hard in the autumn by a similarly solid South Africa side, who were narrowly beaten 19-16 in November.

This looks set to be a game of fine margins and punters may want to concentrate on the winning-margin market - Ireland are 5/4 to win by one to 12 points while France are 13/5. The best bet could be to take the 1/1 that there are under 44 points, a winning bet in the last five Dublin meetings.

Scots ready to end sorry run

The new Welsh dawn under returning coach Warren Gatland ended in defeat at home to Ireland last week and Wales now head to Edinburgh, where they have never lost under Gatland.

The Scots will be on a high after last week's victory at Twickenham, but one-off successes are now a regular feature, while a run of wins together still eludes them.

Gatland has shuffled his pack, leaving out experienced campaigners Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and Toby Faletau, and while he clearly has one eye on building depth for the World Cup, an unchanged Scotland side will surely feel confident.

Wales have won on six of their last seven Six Nations visits to Murrayfield but the margins have become ever closer - four of the last five have been by no more than 12 points and most recently in 2021 there was just one point in it.

The resurgent Scots will back their attacking instincts again and looked so threatening with ball in hand last week, while Wales are still settling on defensive structures and have personnel changes to cope with this week.

One exciting player in the Wales line-up though is 21-year-old Christ Tshiunza, who starts in the back row. He is supremely athletic and powerful and anyone who saw him gallop in for a winning try for Exeter against Harlequins this season will know an open game should suit him and he is an enticing 11/2 to get on the scoresheet.

England facing perfect opponent for rebound

England's 100 per-cent success rate against Italy is the only unbeaten record yet to fall in the Six Nations, but Steve Borthwick's men will be far from complacent going into Sunday's clash at Twickenham.

The Red Rose are 19-point favourites but have a lot to prove after a poor 2022 and losing start to this year's Six Nations, while Italy's battling performance in their 29-24 defeat to France in round one won't have gone unnoticed.

England coach Borthwick has been quick to act following last week's defeat to Scotland, ditching the dual playmaker strategy by benching Marcus Smith and moving Owen Farrell back to fly-half.

The upshot should be a little more certainty in defence and purpose in attack, and England have not lacked flair and ambition in this fixture, having scored 25 tries in the last four Twickenham clashes with the Azzurri.

There is enough firepower behind the England scrum to suggest they can reach 40 points, as they have in four of their last five Twickenham meetings with Italy.

Italy have only once scored more than 20 points at Twickenham in the Six Nations - on their first tournament visit in 2001 - and on their last three visits they have been handed starts of more than 20 points, staying within that line twice. 

This is the second-lowest handicap they have been given for an away fixture to England - in 2009 they fell short with a 16-point start when losing 36-11.

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