Ireland remain unbeaten after the first three games and face their stiffest hurdle on route to a possible Grand Slam in Cardiff this weekend

Recommendations (all William Hill)

Wales to beat Ireland by 10-12 points 2-1

Scotland +16 points versus England at 10/11

Italy +7 points versus France at 10/11

Wales v Ireland (Saturday 2.30pm)

Ireland’s 19-10 victory over England was in part due to the ruthless pragmatism of the side under Joe Schmidt and in part because England underperformed. In Jonny Sexton and Connor Murray Ireland have superb game-managers, executing plans perfectly and with strong defence, competitive forwards and the brilliant kicking game they have won 3 out of 3 and are two wins away from a Grand Slam

Saturday is their toughest test to achieve that, as Wales in Cardiff (despite a very poor record over the years against the Irish) are a challenge. Wales went to Paris and won and if they can win on Saturday are right in the hunt for the Six Nations title with their last game in Rome

Understandably enough the bookmakers expect this to be a very close game. Ireland are 10/11 outright and only one poitn handicap favourites. Both sides will kick their points and defend well. Wales will probably want to be more expansive and not get too bogged down in a forward battle where Ireland would likely have the edge

Again I find myself saying that this should be a one score game. I quite like backing a competitive home team as an underdog and although this is clearly not the strongest of Six Nations I don’t think a side so one dimensional as Ireland is really a grand slam team

I will be backing Wales to win by 1-12 points at 2-1 with William Hill

England v Scotland (Saturday 5pm)

Scotland are a frustrating team to watch. Expansive and talented, with finally some oomph in the back-line the promise of an encouraging Autumn has evaporated in three successive losses in the Six Nations and on the last two occasions, the home defeats to Wales and taly, the side has resembled a toddler on a bike when you take the training wheels off. You know that they are going to be good but just in the short term its all very wobbly.

In essence Scotland lack gamecraft, lack experience of winning and lack nous. England meanwhile are likely to respond to signs of inexperience of their own in Dublin, where they lost by 10 points. The likes of Brown, Lawes and Wood will be back and at Twickenham they should perform much better again

The problem if you are expecting England to rebound strongly is that this is pretty much priced in, and the recency of Scotland’s recent disappointments weigh large on prices where England are 1/10 outright and no less than 16 point handicap favourites. England should win, but I don’t think they will do so by more than 2 scores, especially if Scotland play the sort of rugby that they are capable of which will threaten tries

I am a big fan of Scotland +16 points at 10/11 William Hill here, and Scotland being competitive in the game generally

Italy v France (Sunday 3pm)

Watching France play rugby. Like owning a prize greyhound but expecting it to win a race when on a lead out of the traps. France lost at home to Wales playing against type, to a predictable style and looked very average as a result. They have a superb back three, stymied by a regimented approach.

Italy meanwhile won in the final seconds in Murrayfield and are finally showing some signs of creativity. On paper they are no match for the French side but buoyed by that win, playing at home against a side struggling for a consistent approach they should go well again. It would help if they had a top class goal-kicker, an area in which they still lack quality.

Expecting them to win outright is probably too optimistic but +7 points on the handicap is achievable at 10/11 William Hill

Recommendations (all William Hill)

Wales to beat Ireland by 10-12 points 2-1

Scotland +16 points versus England at 10/11

Italy +7 points versus France at 10/11