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Six Nations: How to profit from Wales’ mismatch with England

| 06.02.2015

It’s hardly surprising to see England as short as 7/2 second-favourites to win the World Cup this autumn, which they will of course host, considering the fact that many of their big hitters will escape the punishing effects of a prior Six Nations campaign.

Wales’ patchy 18 months since the British and Irish Lions’ tour win in Australia, where Warren Gatland’s men dominated the visitors’ first XV (in no small part due to their coach’s dual role) provides evidence of the ill effects too much top-level rugby can bring about.

However, Gatland may have timed his side’s tilt at the World Cup to perfection, lest we forget that he has banked three Six Nations championships since 2007, two of them Grand Slams, and led Wales to the semi-finals in New Zealand three-and-a-half years ago.

Remarkably, 11 of the starters who beat England 30-3 to take the northern hemisphere title at the Millennium Stadium in 2013 will do so again on Friday night, with the four replacements – in Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Rhys Webb and Dan Lydiate – arguably upgrades on their predecessors.

Conversely, Stuart Lancaster’s side are missing 11 players through injury, including three second-rows, three centres and two back-rows.

If the 8/15 on offer about Wales to simply win isn’t starting to sound like a cracking wager yet then it never will, but optimistic punters should consider the hosts overcoming a 23-point handicap, as they did last time these two met in Cardiff, at 9/1.

In the try-scorer markets, Webb looks a colossal price at 12/1 to go over first, as he was the last Wales player to do so against Australia back in November and also went over against the All Blacks, while the ever-reliable George North definitely warrants a wager at 7/4 for an anytime effort.

‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ warblers needn’t be too downhearted though – there’s little chance Lancaster will face such an injury crisis at the World Cup, especially after a summer off, and England at full-strength are always a force to be reckoned with.

They’ve made two of the past three World Cup finals, winning in 2003, and finished runners-up to Australia the last time it was staged at Twickenham 24 years ago.

That being said, Lancaster needs a minor miracle at the Millennium Stadium to keep England’s Grand Slam hopes alive, so 13/8 on the away win should not be touched.

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

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Alex Fortune