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Ireland v England Betting Guide

27/2/2015
If it already feels like our match previews are slowly ascending in order of importance this issue, it is certainly fitting that the final RBS Six Nations game of the weekend pits Ireland against England in a match that could have a decisive bearing on the destination of the 2015 trophy.

Both sides have taken maximum points from their first two games, but with England’s opener away to Wales unquestionably more daunting than Ireland’s home clash with France (both teams took the mandatory two points off Italy in their other match), it is Stuart Lancaster’s men who will be heading into Round 3 slightly the more confident despite their underdog tag – and for good reason too.

While Ireland rather laboured to victory against Italy, England blew the Azzurri away with a six-try performance that – when coupled with the two they scored against Wales – has contributed to them being the highest scoring team in the tournament so far. Naturally, they’ll face a much tougher test against the side boasting the Six Nations’ meanest defence, but with so many players starting to hit form, the trip doesn’t look as daunting as it might have done when the fixtures were first released.

That being said, the reigning champions’ go into the tie as slight 10/11 favourites on account of their undoubted quality and generally strong home record, with England rated as slight outsiders at 11/10. Interestingly, despite Ireland’s overall form at the Aviva, the visitors have emerged victorious on their last two trips to Dublin and also inflicted the only defeat of Ireland’s triumphant 2014 campaign when the two sides last met at Twickenham. They are currently unbeaten against Joe Schmidt’s men in four games in all competitions and, as such, odds-against prices do look tempting.

However, with both sides boasting a 100% record in the competition so far, something will have to give on Sunday afternoon – and it is hard to shake the feeling that the increased expectations surrounding England after their strong start to the tournament are creating a slightly exaggerated impression of their title hopes. True, the visitors are by no means rank outsiders here, but they should perhaps be slightly longer in the betting for us to really feel comfortable about backing them.

Perhaps, then, we should look to other markets on this game to make our betting coin. Having limited Italy and France to one try between them and conceded just 16 points against in the competition so far, Ireland have looked great defensively – but even Italy have scored more tries than them going forward. As such, betting on the game to finish with fewer than 36.5 points looks a lock at 10/11, while from a scoring point of view, the boot of Jonathan Sexton is likely to account for most of Ireland’s points, so backing him to emerge with the best kicking percentage is also a short-odds option likely to yield returns.
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