Sky Bet Rugby Q&A
Sky Bet's Nigel Askham puts the questions to the online bookmaker's rugby product manager Chris Smart
Last Updated: 09/03/12 7:51am
Q: Only one place to start this week - France v England in Paris on Sunday. Both sides' form has been patchy so far, how do you see it going?
England did very well against Wales, and probably deserved more out of the game than they got. Owen Farrell was excellent at 10, and Manu Tuilagi showed what a threat he offers going forward. France seemed very lethargic against Ireland, but still managed to get a draw from a perilous half-time situation. They always lift their game against England, and they should have too much for England this weekend.
Q: England get an eight-point start on the handicap. Bearing in mind Ireland and France drew 17-17 last weekend at the same venue have you seen much money for Stuart Lancaster's men?
England have been quite well backed, and look likely to go off probably +7 or +6, depending on how much faith the English public have in them to re-produce their form shown against Wales. I will be happy to lay England, especially if the handicap contracts.
Q: In Cardiff is it all about the winning margin for Wales against wooden spoon favourites Italy?
Wales have won three games against top sides playing at below their maximum level. They will be far too strong for Italy, who lost by 32 to an Ireland team that doesn't appear to have the incision and point scoring ability of Wales.
Q: The other clash this weekend sees Ireland facing the still pointless Scots in Dublin. Can the visitors finally get off the mark after some close calls?
This has been a bit of a nothing Six Nations thus far for Ireland. They have relied on the same old players, and have not a lot to show for it in terms of results. Paul O'Connell and Conor Murray are losses for them, O'Connell particularly. I really like this Scotland side and I think they have a very realistic chance of turning over Ireland if they produce an 80 minute performance to match the quality they have shown for long periods against England, Wales and France.
Q: The Bulls top the Super 15 table after a couple of rounds. Has there been much movement in the outright market as a result?
The Highlanders are the big springers in the market into 16The Highlanders are the big springers in the market into 14/1/1 from 40/1 pre-season. They do have a tendency to start well and fade but it would be great to see them push on this year. The Bulls were the team I most wanted to oppose at the start of the season, due to the amount of quality they have lost. I was wrong, they look formidable again, and they have every chance of going a long way in this competition.
Q: Where will your money be going this weekend?
Scotland look over-priced against Ireland for mee. Expect them to shorten approaching kick-off.
France could probably give up a few more points to England on the handicap, so their -7 looks worth taking.
*Prices subject to fluctuation