England Out to Upset the Odds With Six Nations Grand Slam
February 18, 2019
Going into this year’s tournament, it was Ireland who were fancied to retain their Six Nations title, and become the first country to manage back-to-back Grand Slam’s in the process.
England, however, clearly hadn’t read the script, and threw the Six Nations betting odds wide open with an opening weekend Dublin victory over the favourites.
With each outfit now two games in, let’s take a look at who has got off to a flier and who is in danger of finishing bottom of the pile.
Rampant England Make a Mockery of Their Underdog Status
After their November victory over the All Blacks, Ireland were expected to sweep aside their Six Nations rivals in what was being billed as the perfect preparation for this year’s World Cup.
However, as is so often the case in sport, the reality has proved to be somewhat different.
In a clash that was being billed as an opening-round title decider between the two favourites, Ireland were expected to have too much quality for an England side in the middle of yet another rebuilding job.
However, the Red Roses were clearly in no mood to make up the numbers, and Jonny May crossed for their first Dublin try since 2011 within the opening two minutes.
A further four would follow, giving Eddie Jones’ men a quite incredible bonus-point 32-20 victory away at the overwhelming tournament favourites.
France would visit Twickenham the following weekend and were simply no match for Owen Farrell and co. Six tries would see England hand France a 44-8 lesson, and the six-time winners were now odds on to manage a third Grand Slam.
Unbeaten Wales Remain a Threat
They may not have been quite as convincing as England so far, in terms of winning margins at least, but Wales remain a serious Grand Slam contender with two wins from their opening two games.
Trailing 16-0 at half-time in their opener in France, a George North inspired Wales would recover to record the biggest comeback in Six Nations history.
Warren Gatland’s troops would win the second half 24-3 and, after a dismal start to their campaign, escaped with an incredible victory to take into another away clash.
Italy awaited in the second round of fixtures and, despite both sides managing a couple of tries each, the kicking of Daniel Biggar proved to be the difference between the pair.
With two of their three remaining fixtures taking place at the Millennium Stadium, including a visit from title rivals England, it would be foolish to write Wales off just yet – they’re still 5-1 to take the title with Coral.
Favourites Ireland Fall at First Hurdle
As previously mentioned, the opening weekend clash between Ireland and England was being billed as a winner takes all meeting, such was the supposed gulf in quality between those two and the rest of the competition.
Ireland were expected to deal with their Aviva Stadium guests, but were left stunned by England’s quick start and never truly recovered.
A hard-fought victory in Scotland saw them return to winning ways, and Rory Best and co will not have given up hope of successfully defending their title, even if the Grand Slam is now out of reach.
They should be able to navigate their way past a trip to Italy and home tie against France, before they end their campaign with in Cardiff.
If results go their way between now and then, a victory over Wales could yet see Ireland crowned Six Nations champions for the fifth time.
They aren’t in the position they would have liked, Ireland remain contenders and are still only 11-1 to win the title with Betfred.
Winless France and Italy Out to Avoid Wooden Spoon
Only England have managed more Six Nations titles than France, although Les Blues haven’t lifted the trophy since their Grand Slam win in 2010.
Shockingly, France actually ended up finishing bottom of the pile for the first time in Six Nations history in 2013, and almost finished up winless before registering a 23-16 victory over Scotland on the final day.
A home defeat at the hands of Wales saw Jacques Brunel’s men get off to the worst possible start, and things quickly worsened with that 44-8 Twickenham drubbing.
With Scotland and Italy still left to play, France will have the opportunity to climb the table, but their wait for a sixth title will now last for at least a decade.
Despite a clear improvement in the last few years, Italy have finished last in each of the last three tournaments. Only once in their history have they collected the wooden spoon in four consecutive campaigns, and look dangerously close to repeating that feat after falling to defeat against Wales and Scotland already.
Their home tie with France in the final round of fixtures could prove decisive. There is so much still up for grabs in the Six Nations betting odds.
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Gary has been writing for a variety of well-respected media outlets for over a decade. His work has been published on websites such as The Mirror, Manchester Evening News and the Liverpool Echo. Formerly a reporter with the world’s largest football website in Goal.com, Gary is a boxing fanatic and previously ran his own boxing column for Betfred. He used to own an Everton fansite, but his love affair with his beloved Toffees is close to coming unstuck.