Wales vs Ireland – Saturday 14:45, BBC1
It’s all set to be a classic encounter in Cardiff on Saturday afternoon as Wales bid to win their first Grand Slam since 2012. However, pre-tournament favourites Ireland come here with a point to prove having lost on the opening weekend to England and will be aiming for a confidence boosting performance in order to maintain their tag as second-favourites for the 2019 World Cup.
Not only is there plenty at stake within the competition, but it will be an emotional evening for both head coaches as they partake in their final Six Nations match in their current posts. It will be Warren Gatland’s last competitive home match at the Principality Stadium after a 12-year stint, so it’s sure to be a high-octane atmosphere at the Principality Stadium.
The Kiwi believes his side ‘have forgotten how to lose’ after victory in Scotland made it 13 in a row, but they’ve not been putting teams away this Six Nations, rather doing enough to get over the line. This is all set to be another tight encounter and indeed, nine of the 12 meeting between these two since 2007 have been decided by 10 points or fewer, where it’s almost honors-even with Ireland W6-D1-L5 during this time.
It’s unlikely to be a high scoring affair as squeezing the opposition with committed defending is the main strength of both sides.
Ireland traditionally start poorly then peak towards the end of this tournament, so we’ll just about side with them at the prices. Indeed, Wales’ winning streak has included some opposition of lower quality – Italy (twice), France (twice), Argentina (twice), Scotland (twice) and Tonga – while it’s easy to forget that the Irish beat the mighty All Blacks less than four months ago. Visiting Wales, they’ve won four of their last seven Test Matches, and we’ll back them to spoil the party and open the door for England to win the title.