Six Nations 2019 Final Round Preview
Six Nations 2019 Final Round Preview: Wales, England & Ireland in Search of Six Nations Glory
The Six Nations concludes this weekend and it promises to be a fascinating finale as three teams are still in with a chance of seizing glory. Wales are in pole position as they lead the standings and will know that their destiny is in their own hands. If they beat Ireland in Cardiff the trophy is theirs, but that is an extremely formidable task and England are poised to capitalise on any slip-ups. The Irish might yet clinch an unlikely triumph themselves, so the tournament is tantalisingly poised as we head into the final round of fixtures.
What Happened in the Last Round of the Six Nations?
Wales preserved their unbeaten campaign by securing a hard fought 18-11 win over Scotland at Murrayfield. Warren Gatland’s men have been invincible thus far, but all four of their victories have been tight, tense affairs. So it proved in Edinburgh, where the injury-ravaged hosts gave them a real second-half fright. Josh Adams and Jonathan Davies scored tries to put Wales en route to victory, but Darcy Graham roused Scotland to life. Wales were forced to defend with their lives, and a last gasp penalty from Gareth Anscombe wrapped up a slender victory.
England then hosted Italy at Twickenham and it was an utter mauling. They scored eight tries and Manu Tuilagi and Joe Cokanasiga were particularly rampant, while flanker Brad Shields also scored two tries. England were disappointed to lose to Wales after leading for the majority of the game, but they have obliterated France and Italy and beaten Ireland comfortably, so it has been a decent campaign for Eddie Jones’ side.
Ireland then beat France 26-14 in Dublin to keep their faint hopes of a second consecutive Six Nations triumph alive. Coach Joe Schmidt said his team found their rhythm once more and it was certainly a more dominant performance than the scoreline suggests, as they enjoyed 81% of the possession in the first half.
What’s Left to be Decided by This Final Round of Fixtures?
Wales lead the way after securing four wins out of four and they can wrap up the title with victory over Ireland. However, if the Irish thrash Wales and pick up a bonus point, they will go top of the table. It would then all come down to England v Scotland at Twickenham. If England were to win that, they would clinch the title. Right now, Wales have 16 points, England have 15 and Ireland have 14, so it is all very tight heading into the final round of fixtures.
The English will be hoping for an Ireland win, as that would give them the opportunity to leapfrog both teams into first place. They are the clear favourites in the Six Nations spreads to beat Scotland, as Gregor Townsend’s men have lost three of their four games so far. England have been exceptional at Twickenham of late and our traders expect them to win it comfortably. Yet the game would be a dead rubber if Wales beat Ireland, resulting in a somewhat muted atmosphere. The other game of the weekend sees Italy take on France in Rome. The Italians are guaranteed to take the wooden spoon once again, but France could move above Scotland into a more respectable fourth place with a win.
Which Teams are Still in With a Chance of Winning the Six Nations?
Wales, England or Ireland could be lifting the trophy when all the dust has settled on this weekend’s action, which makes the situation very exciting. Wales are the narrow favourites to win the tournament in the Six Nations outright spreads, but England are not far behind them. Wales have a really tough game against the Irish, who went into the tournament as heavy favourites after storming to number two in the world rankings and then beating the All Blacks. Schmidt’s men are finding their form again and they are expected to give the Welsh an almighty battle on Saturday afternoon. If they can pull off an away win, England’s game against Scotland would be charged with excitement and it would be fascinating to see if the visitors could spoil the party. However Wales have never previously bottled a shot at the grand slam when their deciding game is on home soil.
Wales on for the Grand Slam?
The Welsh stand on the brink of tying up a famous Grand Slam for the first time since 2012 which would represent a remarkable achievement given they began the tournament as third favourites. The depth of quality among their rivals is extremely high right now, so finishing with a 100% record would spark outpourings of joy across the country. The passionate fans will turn the Principality Stadium into a cauldron of animosity and make life as difficult as possible for the Irish players. Wales won their last home game against Ireland, which will give them confidence, but Ireland have a strong recent record in Cardiff, so the hosts would need to display huge mental strength to get the job done.
Who Has Been the Six Nations’ Standout Player?
England have a points difference of 83 heading into the final round after scoring 146 and conceding 63. That leaves them well clear of Wales’ +31 as well as Ireland who are coincidentally on the same margin, so there is a case for selecting an England star as player of the tournament thus far. Mako Vunipola was on fire until he suffered injury, and Manu Tuilagi has been sensational when he has played. Yet the standout player for England would have to be Jonny May. He has scored five tries, two more than any other player in the tournament, and his searing displays have set the tone for England’s fine form.
However, Wales carry a 100% record into the final round of fixtures, so you really have to give it to someone from that group and Alun Wyn Jones has been the beating heart of the Welsh team. The legendary 33-year-old Wales captain has dragged his team to victory in a series of tight clashes and he earns the nod thus far due to his leadership and totemic displays.
Can Wales wrap up a famous Six Nations campaign and seal the Grand Slam in Cardiff? Or Will England or Ireland nip in to steal the glory? Visit our Rugby spread betting page for all the markets ahead of what is sure to be a breath-taking final round.