There’s a lot to be said for France’s win over England last week.
They showed mental toughness to hang onto their early lead and this time last year, everyone was hailing their offload-heavy, flashy brand of rugby, but announced it was ‘too early’ for them.
Is it still too early for them?
This should be a should-be tap-in for them against Italy and while we’ve established who’ll win this game, it could well be worth examining the projected handicaps, points tallies and some smaller markets for three best bets on Sunday at 3pm.
Generally with rugby spreads, what I tend to do is ask around the office before anyone has seen the line. There wasn’t a single person that went below 26 and I personally went 28.
That’s a good sign. And as soon as team news comes out, that’s another piece of reinforcement, pending any big-name omissions.
But there’s more rationale to it than that. France have improved even more so at half back. Dupont looks ready to step into the current void of world’s best scrum half from the aging Conor Murray and his kicking game will land Italy in all sorts of problems.
That was a Wales team at 60 per cent of their powers, rusty, and under Pivac’s new blueprint for the first time. This is now a confident, battle-tested French outfit who know exactly where this current Italy unit struggle.
When Dupont kicks them into submission 15m from their goal line, you can expect the same mistakes from Mattia Bellini and Steyn who combined for eight turnovers conceded in round one.
Eight. Two players. Incredible.
Now, France may not be as strong in the ruck, but I do suspect added pressure of last week’s loss and situational rugby to weigh heavily on their minds. Wait until you see the territory stats from this one.
Selection: France (-25) v Italy @ 10/11.
Usually Italy’s primary source of points comes from one particular area – the scrum. They’re good off that set piece and forced turnovers against Wales last week.
The French scrum itself looked improved, having held their own against, granted Mako-less, England front row, but given the focus that will have been placed on this during Italian sessions midweek,
I believe they’ll win the battle here.
And given the last week’s battering, they’ll be happy to keep the scoreboard ticking over. I can see them rattling off 15-20 points here, which should see the over fly in.
Especially as France know they need a bonus point to stand a chance of winning this tournament.
Selection: Over 48.5 Points @ 5/6.
It is no secret that Italy are susceptible to being battered when it comes to their line discipline. It is also no secret that Rattez and Thomas are aware of this.
Given both are the same price, I’ll stick with the latter as he’s that bit more polished.
I’ll even call the try for you now.
Dupont kicks Italy inside their 22. They lose the lineout, Dupont will feed 12 and 13 – there’ll be a clever little kick in behind and Thomas will ground in three metres of space.
Enjoy your money.
Selection: Teddy Thomas to Score A Try Anytime @ 8/11.
*Prices correct at time of publishing but are fluid