Six Nations predictions: Round 2 handicap picks

Six Nations predictions: Round 2 handicap picks

After getting two of the first three matches right, we’re continuing our Six Nations predictions with handicap picks for the second round of fixtures and are eyeing a 6.75 treble.

Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Stade de France in Paris and Stadio Olimpico in Rome will stage this weekend’s games.

Scotland -2.5 points in Wales @ 1.91

Wales were the only handicap pick to let us down last weekend when hammered 29-7 in Ireland, where just a late Taine Basham try saved them from total embarrassment.

Scotland have not won in Cardiff for 20 years, losing eight Six Nations Tests, a World Cup warm-up game and an autumn international during that time, but Wayne Pivac’s injury-ravaged side are surely there for the taking.

Gregor Townsend feels his men are well equipped to banish their Principality Stadium hoodoo, having enjoyed victories away to England and France last year.

“I believe the tests we had at Twickenham and in Paris last year set us up this week for what will be a great challenge,” said Townsend, whose team were worthy 20-17 winners against England at Murrayfield in Round 1.

Ireland +5.5 points in France @ 1.85

The men in green may have faced a depleted Wales outfit in Dublin but it was still hard to fault the way they steamrollered through that contest, bullying their opponents up front and impressing with mistake-free rugby.

Veteran fly-half Johnny Sexton will be a major miss in Paris due to a hamstring strain but head coach Andy Farrell is confident other proven leaders will step up to the plate.

“We’re not just one player, it never has been, it never will be, and we want to grow as a group and we make sure we approach every game in that manner anyway,” said Farrell.

Munster’s Joey Carbery caught the eye as the second-string number 10 in autumn wins over New Zealand and Argentina and Ireland can still be competitive against a France side which was only workmanlike when beating Italy 37-10.

England -25.5 points in Italy @ 1.91

Italy just about emerged from their loss to France with some respectability but poor weather conditions may have prevented Les Bleus from cutting loose during a very scrappy first half.

With the sun set to shine on Rome, we fear the Azzurri, who looked awful with the ball in hand after the break, will be run ragged by an England team desperate to kick-start their campaign.

Eddie Jones was left to rue some unfortunate errors at key moments in Edinburgh but veteran prop Joe Marler insists the spirit within the camp remains good.

Marler said: “This group is probably the tightest group I have been a part of, with a lot of the youngsters, who are very good friends off the pitch, and the older heads coming together a bit, so it’s very tight.”

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