Six Nations preview and best bets

Six Nations preview and best bets

Jon Newcombe casts his expert eye over Scotland’s Six Nations clash with France on Saturday afternoon – read his full preview here.

Six Nations betting tips: Scotland v France (Saturday, 1415)

3pts over 45 points at evens (Vbet)

2pts Scotland (+4) at 10/11 (General)

1pt Damian Penaud any-time try-scorer at 11/10 (Sky Bet)

0.5pt France/Scotland HT/FT at 9/1 (bet365)

0.5pt red card in match/Scotland win at 17/2 (Paddy Power, Betfair Sportsbook)

Sky Bet odds | Paddy Power | Betfair Sportsbook

Scotland have felt the French backlash from a painful defeat many times before in the Championship and Gregor Townsend’s team will be braced for plenty of fire and brimstone as Les Bleus seek retribution for their humbling 38-17 defeat at the hands of Ireland in round one.

Four times in the last decade France have found Scotland to be the perfect remedy to get over a bad result from the round before, with last year’s game a case in point. Scotland went into that round three encounter full of confidence after achieving back-to-back wins at the start of the Championship for the first time, while France were licking their wounds after going down 32-19 to Ireland.

However, Scotland proved to be no match for France on the day with Les Bleus smiling once again after a 32-21 win that was effectively in the bag by half-time.

Does this French team have the fight in them and the leadership to find the right response? The jury is still out, which is why, on what is forecast to be a damp, grey day, it is hard to back them with any real confidence to come away from Murrayfield with a win, although a strong start is expected given the rocket they’ll have had from defence coach Shaun Edwards.

Last Friday’s game was one of only three instances where they have trailed at half-time in their last 25 Tests. FRANCE/SCOTLAND HT/FT is 9/1, if you believe the latter is capable of reversing last week’s performance when all their points were scored in the first 43 minutes.

One thing to bear in mind is that they win more than they lose when Grant Gilchrist plays, which is not something that can be said about all the Scotland players. As well as Gilchrist and Rory Darge’s inclusion, in-form Saracens back-rower Andy Christie is an exciting addition to the bench with the dynamism that he brings.

This fixture has produced 53 points the last two times it has been played, and we expect around that number to be scored again, especially with Damian Penaud and his opposite number, Duhan van der Merwe, full of tries and fired up in a duel between the best two finishers in the game.

OVER 45 POINTS is our pick. Penaud needs no introduction to Sporting Life readers, having come good for us so many times in the past, and you wouldn’t bet against him crowning his 50th cap with yet another try.

With only two changes to his match-day squad, France head coach Fabian Galthié has resisted the temptation to shake things up too much and clearly has belief that they can get the job done. Cameron Woki’s inclusion will add athleticism to their lineout and in going for Louis Bielle-Biarrey over Yoram Moefana, they now have gas on both flanks.

For France to win, they need their leaders to step up, the lineout to function, and for needless penalties to be eradicated. France only conceded eight against Ireland but half of them were ‘coach killers’ with players straying offside. Scotland coughed up twice as many penalties (16) as France in their nerve-racking 27-26 win over Wales, with the ruck their main area of concern.

Keeping 15 players on the pitch will be another point of focus, especially for France after Paul Willemse got his marching orders last week. By the laws of probability there will be a red card. Five in the last seven fixtures between these teams is some stat.

Nic Berry referees this one, and his decision-making could be vital. The old Eastenders actor turned singer by the same name once crooned, ‘Every Loser Wins’ and Scotland might just need those four points on the handicap to make good that promise.

Posted at 1020 GMT on 09/02/24

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