There are many permutations of how the winner of the 2019 Six Nations Championship can be decided, with Wales, England and Ireland all still in with a chance.
However, being ahead by two log points Wales, are the side to catch and bonus points for the three remaining challengers could be decisive.
Scotland vs Wales at Murrayfield, Saturday, 16:15pm
Wales are only two wins away from an unlikely Grand Slam with their first challenge the match against Scotland on Saturday. The Irish challenge to achieve the title must, for now, wait until the match against Wales next week.
Wales are favourites to win this encounter, although the Scottish demise against France will probably make them that much more determined to compensate for a loss not predicted. However, it should have been expected by all supporters, considering Scotland’s record in France where they last wonj in 1999.
Wales are obviously confident after their late but deserved win against England two weeks ago. They showed that they have everything to compete and win against the best. They are after all on a 12-match unbeaten run and have moved up to third in World Rugby’s rankings after the England win.
They should bag a 13th win on Saturday. Scotland are a solid side, but probably lack that something extra which they will need against Alun Wyn Jones’ team.
History is also against the home side. Wales have won 11 of their last 12 games against Scotland. While both sides have scored seven tries in this year’s Championship, Wales have conceded only five to Scotland’s 10.
The Scots also have a discipline record. In their three matches to date they have conceded 30 penalties, more than any other side in the competition.
England vs Italy at Twickenham, Saturday 18:45
England should have it much their way against Italy following their defeat to Wales in Cardiff two weeks ago.
Italy are on the brink of their 21st successive defeat against the team that has scored the most tries in this year’s Six Nations Championship and are bound to improve on the 11 tries scored so far.
Italy have their captain Sergio Parisse back from injury. He has promises his side will not lie done that easily. They won’t, but they play only in spurts and simply don’t have what it takes to win at England’s headquarters.
It will again be a case where a good big one, even if they’re over confident against a hopeful little one, should carry the day with another big hiding to Italy on the cards.
Ireland vs France at Aviva Stadium, Sunday 17:00
France have shown a frailty under the high ball and kicks behind their backline and have stuck with wings Damian Penaud and Yoann Huget for this match.
France suffered a 24-19 defeat against Wales after being seemingly too far ahead to catch at halftime, then lost 8-44 to England before beating Scotland, something they have done regularly at home.
Ireland, with Jonny Sexton and Conor Murray at halfback, are too good to let the French get away with their back three’s frailties. the hunt, depending on what happens in the other two matches, and could set up a “final” against Wales in Cardiff next week ‒ not an easy one in itself!