Six Nations preview and best bets

Six Nations preview and best bets

Being played on a Sunday afternoon doesn’t help, but this fixture has a very flat feel to it.

Wales are winless and are arguably fielding their weakest line-up since the days a whole swathe of their players took the Rugby League coin and disappeared up north in the 1980s and 90s.

By the same token, France look a pale shadow of the team that was number one in the world less than two years ago and went into a home World Cup seemingly with the world at their feet.

One win against Scotland, and that was very fortuitous, and a record defeat to Ireland and an unheard of draw with Italy has left Les Bleus languishing in the wrong half of the table.

Fabian Galthie is under enormous pressure to turn things around, and they should do that in Cardiff, although those wishing to see a better spectacle than their 13-9 win at the Principality Stadium in 2022 might be left disappointed.

If we are being truthful about it, this has been a below-par Championship, for the viewer and for us as tipsters – so far. It was perhaps to be expected after a glorious – and profitable – World Cup, that things would take a turn for the worse, and they have.

The aggregate points total for the first three rounds is the lowest its been since 2019 and we don’t expect this match to contribute towards bucking the trend. Wales have had to rely on Mr Penalty Try as their top try scorer – they’ve been awarded two in as many matches – while you only have to look at Damian Penaud’s stats to realise how big a downturn France have suffered in attack.

We did ponder how big a miss Antoine Dupont would be and his outstanding performances in sevens have only served to illustrate what France have been missing. No Romain Ntamack and now no Mathieu Jalibert at fly-half has also been a major spanner in the works and, as a result, Penaud has struggled to get good quality ball in time and space.

From scoring a record 14 tries in 2023, the Bordeaux-Begles player has only one this year and is in danger of going three matches without scoring for only the second time in his seven-year Test career.

Galthie has rolled the dice for this one, naming three debutants in his XV with another on the bench. But France should still have the quality about them to keep Wales’ winless run going in what has the feel of a low-scoring game. Emmanuel Meafou, the new second row, is an absolute beast and is one of a number of heavy-duty forwards in the French pack. Wales will attempt to run them off their feet but whether those attacks amount to much is debatable.

Play under the points line and get something back for watching a low-scoring conclusion to this round of fixtures.

Posted at 1335 GMT on 08/03/24

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