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Six Nations: Favourites in rotten shape after Euro batterings

| 26.01.2015

England retained 7/4 favouritism ahead of the start of Six Nations 2015 next month, despite suffering further losses of key personnel through injury in the last round of Champions Cup pool fixtures.

Owen Farrell, Tom Wood, Geoff Parling and Kyle Eastmond were the latest Red Rose bruisers heading to the treatment room after the preliminary round of the continent’s premier rugby competition came to a close.

They joined Ben Morgan, Ben Foden, Manu Tuilagi, Courtney Lawes, Joe Launchbury and Ed Slater on the sidelines ahead of the championship opener in Cardiff against Wales.

A rotten weekend for England coach Stuart Lancaster was completed by Dylan Hartley’s sin bin in Northampton’s crushing 32-8 loss at home to Racing Metro, after the hooker had just returned from a three-week ban, although the sanction won’t affect his international availability.

Wales chief Warren Gatland can feel much more content than his opposite number after Red Dragons centre Jamie Roberts stole the show for Racing at Franklin’s Gardens, alongside international teammate Mike Phillips, who made a second-half appearance at scrum-half.

Roberts was named man of the match in a try-scoring turn, Saints superstar George North also touched down for the hosts and both came through the 80 minutes seemingly unscathed.

Even the retirement of stalwart prop Adam Jones, and the mud-slinging in the press regarding the two-time British and Irish Lion’s omission from Wales’ Six Nations squad, won’t have bothered confident Kiwi Gatland.

Samson Lee looks more than ready to replace Jones based on his Autumn International outings, when Wales beat South Africa and put up a decent showing against New Zealand.

Considering England last won in Wales four years ago and lost 30-3 to Gatland’s side at the Millennium Stadium in 2013, it’s difficult to say anything good about the 3/1 offered on Lancaster and co winning the Grand Slam for the first time since 2003.

Wales are available at an ever-more-appealing 10/3 to claim a third Six Nations title in four campaigns, while a fourth Grand Slam in ten years is quoted at 8/1 at Ladbrokes.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Alex Fortune