Will Greenwood and Andy Nicol share their predictions for Round 3. Decisive games for Ireland and Wales!
24 February 2017 11:53am
By Paul Eddison
Will Greenwood expects Scotland, Ireland and England to win this weekend
As we head into round three of RBS 6 Nations action a pair of Tissot ambassadors have given their thoughts on how the games in Edinburgh, Dublin and London will unfold.
Andy Nicol is the former Scotland scrum-half and captain and joined England's Will Greenwood on the 2001 British & Irish Lions Tour.
The duo have shared their views on who will emerge victorious this weekend:
Scots tipped to end Wales misery
It's been ten years since Scotland last beat Wales, a 21-9 victory back in 2007, but with one win from two so far, and a trip to Twickenham up next, Greenwood believes this is a must-win game for Vern Cotter's side.
And according to the former England centre, that added incentive of playing on home soil will be just enough to get them over the line.
He said: "I think there's more pressure on Scotland. For Wales the pressure will really be on the game against Ireland a week later back in Cardiff. When you only play two home games, and you've lost one, you just can't afford to lose the second.
"For Scotland this is huge. They had a really big performance to beat Ireland and then a brave display in France.
"If they lose to Wales they will find themselves going to Twickenham and they take on Italy, so there will be a massive amount of frustration if they lose.
"I feel that desperation will be enough to see them over the line by five points."
Nicol is similarly optimistic about how the Scots will fare, and expects it to be another fast-paced encounter, like the victory over Ireland.
He said: "The target for me for Scotland was always three wins to continue the progress of last year. That was entirely achievable as long as we won the first game against Ireland, which we did.
"Scotland versus Wales games are usually good, they are fast, they are open and that suits Scotland.
"They have to back themselves at BT Murrayfield the way that Wales raised their level several levels to come within four minutes of beating England.
"To replicate that away from home is the challenge for Wales. You just hope from a Scottish perspective that they win the key battles.
"For Scotland to get a good number in the Lions party, they have to play well collectively. If Scotland beat Wales then the knock-on effect is that.
"It will be great to see Stuart Hogg go up against Leigh Halfpenny, you have got Finn Russell against Dan Biggar, Alun Wyn Jones against Jonny and Richie Gray, there are a lot of match-ups across the whole pitch.
"There's a much better chance of more Scotland players going on the Lions Tour if they beat Wales."
Ireland to edge past France
Both Nicol and Greenwood agree that Ireland's clash with France in Dublin will be a hugely physical encounter.
The French overpowered Scotland in Paris, while Ireland put Italy to the sword in Rome, and the duo agree that the Irish will have enough on home soil.
Greenwood said: "France are on the up but in Dublin I think Ireland will win by nine or ten points.
"They just seem to have the accuracy from all that time playing together, while France are still getting to know each other a bit more.
"They have the consistency of selection now but it's still going to take time whereas Ireland should be able to execute for the 80 minutes. France will dominate in periods but I think Ireland will win it."
Nicol expects France to challenge Ireland physically, but like Greenwood, he feels Irish experience should win the day.
He said: "It will be brutal, hugely physical. That is how both teams play and how they want to play.
"I think they will smash each other. In many ways France will be slightly more attuned to that because of the encounter they had against Scotland, but I do think Ireland just have that little bit more quality.
"They have the firepower that Scotland didn't have up front to counter France's platform and go-forward.
"Ireland will win, but it will be tight, physical and brutal."
England to march on
On Sunday Italy travel to Twickenham with the daunting challenge of ending England's unbeaten run under Eddie Jones and derailing their Grand Slam ambitions.
Neither Nicol nor Greenwood expects them to manage that, and for Greenwood it's a chance for England to put on a show.
He said: "I don't know what to expect in terms of a final score, it could be 50, 60 or 70.
"If Ireland can score nine tries in Rome, then there's no reason England can't get 11 at Twickenham.
"Mako Vunipola could come back into the team, even if Joe Marler has been going great. That combination is really interesting.
"Eddie Jones will be watching in training and seeing who he thinks needs a rest."
Meanwhile Nicol feels that the crucial thing for Italy is to tighten up defensively as they embark on a long-term plan under Conor O'Shea.
He said: "It has not been the start that Conor O'Shea, Mike Catt and Brendan Venter will have wanted.
"We know the project they are undertaking is a long-term project, but defensively they have to be difficult to break down against England.
"They have conceded 96 points in two games and what game would you least like to go to next? England at Twickenham.
"Eddie Jones' side have had two tough games to start with and they are back at Twickenham unbeaten, confidence sky high with 16 wins on the trot.
"England will get the platform, throw the ball around and I think Italy have to stop them playing, they can't go out and try to score three tries."
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