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Six Nations betting tips: Ireland to clinch Grand Slam

We bid a fond farewell to what has been a classic Six Nations campaign with a Saturday triple header and Chris Rivers is back to pick out his best bets from the final round.

Best bets

Scotland v Italy total points - 45 to 65

2pts 5/6

Simone Gesi anytime tryscorer

1pt 2/1

France -9.5 1st half handicap

1pt 10/11

Ireland -1 10-minute handicap

1pt 5/4

Scots and Azzurri can put on a show

A first-ever Six Nations title was always going to be a lot to ask of Scotland, especially given the current quality of France and Ireland, but Gregor Townsend’s men can still take plenty of pride in their efforts as they look to wrap up third in the standings.

The Scots have played some scintillating rugby at times, most notably in the second halves of their clashes with Wales and France and are looking to sign off from this year’s tournament with a 12th straight win over Italy.

However, the absence of inspirational fly-half Finn Russell, as well as Stuart Hogg and Richie Gray, makes the outcome a little less predictable.

Italy head to Edinburgh in a bad mood, furious at themselves for slipping up in a winnable game against Wales at home last week. The Wooden Spoon is likely to stick with the Azzurri for an eighth straight year as a result but, like Scotland, it’s been a campaign not without its positives.

Italy’s attacking play has taken a step forward and they’ve already bettered their points and try tallies of the previous three Six Nations. They pose a threat to the Scots, even with Ange Capuozzo absent, and it could be worth taking a chance on wing Simone Gesi dotting down on debut having scored seven tries in 10 games for Zebre this year.

Italy’s preference to carry rather than kick has got them into trouble at times though and there is still enough talent amongst the Scottish backs, despite Russell’s injury, to think they can put up a healthy score. Six of the last seven meetings between the sides have featured at least 45 points and the preference is for the two sides to combine for a decent total.

Wales next to face French storm

France produced one of the greatest performances in Six Nations history when recording their biggest-ever win at Twickenham and Wales will have watched on nervously as they put England to the sword.

After some sub-par performances, it was a real return to form for Les Bleus that keeps them in the title mix heading into Super Saturday. They need a bonus-point win to keep Ireland honest and will be keen to make early inroads into a struggling Welsh team.

Warren Gatland’s men did pick up a morale-boosting win over Italy last time out but this is a huge step up in class. The last time they faced a team of France’s ilk in Ireland they were 27-0 down after 27 minutes.

Gatland has selected an experienced side, one that should handle the occasion and may not be embarrassed, while Wales have a history of playing France close. But this French side is on another level to the ones Gatland has faced before in his premiership and they may struggle early on.

France have made a habit of starting games strongly - they’ve only trailed at half-time in two of their last 31 Test matches - and are fancied to have the fans off their seats early in the Stade de France.

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Ireland to make early inroads

It’s likely to be a party atmosphere at the Aviva Stadium, where Ireland can clinch only their fourth Grand Slam by beating England.

The Irish have never before been able to celebrate a Slam-winning performance in Dublin before but should get their chance, even if a positive response is expected by England to their France humbling.

The news Caelan Doris and Dan Sheehan are both fit for Ireland is a big boost and, even though they are missing a few others, most notably Garry Ringrose, it’s still a phenomenally strong team Andy Farrell has selected.

Ireland just don’t look like they can be stopped right now. They’ve won 21 of their last 23 Test matches, including their last 13 at home, and the smallest winning margin they’ve enjoyed in the Six Nations so far has been 13 points.

It all adds up to a huge test for an England side reeling from their 53-10 record loss to France and Steve Borthwick has brought in some experienced hands to steady the ship with Manu Tuilagi and Owen Farrell recalled.

They should have enough to avoid another thrashing but England are unlikely to be Slam spoilers, especially if they can’t improve on a record of only scoring more than 13 points on two of their last nine visits to the Aviva Stadium.

Much like France, Ireland tend to get on the front foot early and not allow their opponents to settle. They’ve scored a try in the first 10 minutes in nine of their last 11 Six Nations matches and would have added to that tally last weekend had their score from a mix-up in the Scotland lineout not been disallowed.

They can get the party started early against England by seizing the advantage inside 10 minutes en route to a first Six Nations title in five years.

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