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Stephen Ferris: France must handle pressure to land Grand Slam

| 16.03.2022

Ladbrokes ambassador Stephen Ferris casts his eye over the final weekend of the Six Nations as France go for the Grand Slam against England in Paris.

You can also read his previews and predictions for the Ireland v Scotland and Wales v Italy games by clicking on the links.

France vs England (Sat, 20.00, ITV)

The French looked shaky the whole way through their last game against Wales. Attempting drop goals on the 50-minute mark to try to edge another few points clear just shows that pressure was starting to mount, and if it hadn’t been for an uncharacteristic dropped ball by Jon Davies, then France could easily have lost.

However they won. And now they are on for the Grand Slam which can be captured if they beat the English on home soil.

Just one of the last nine games between France and England have been won by the away side. England won convincingly in 2016, but in 2004 and 2010 the French beat England in the last game of the Six Nations to win the Grand Slam. Is this an omen? All Irish fans certainly hope not, they will be glued to their television screens hoping for an English win which would hand them the championship. Come on England! It’s the first time I’ve said that in a while.

“Swing low, sweet chariot” was being sung from the rafters at Twickenham last week. A tremendous fightback with 14 men after Charlie Ewels was sent off for a high tackle was witnessed by many. Ellis Genge, Jamie George and Kyle Sinckler got all the plaudits for getting that fightback against Ireland under way.

Winning penalty after penalty to give their team a chance going into the last 15 minutes was an achievement in itself against a rampant Ireland team. However, there is still a huge concern around the English attacking shape as they have struggled to score tries. They have scored seven in total, five of which were in Rome. To beat France away from home they can’t just rely on the boot of Marcus Smith.

Antoine Dupont

France have lost just one of their last eight home games in the Six Nations. They are a team full of unbelievable players who look like they are a match for any team in world rugby. Antoine Dupont, Romain Ntamack, Gabin Villiere, Gregory Alldritt, Cyril Baille…I might as well name the whole team. But honestly, these lads I’ve just mentioned would walk on to most people’s world XV at the minute. All playing with confidence and precision, and they are doing a wonderful job of trying to lead this team to glory.

This season’s Six Nations has been a fantastic tournament. So far, France have played the best rugby and have put themselves in the driver’s seat to take the chequered flag in first place. I won’t be betting against them, but I’m sure a few people will due to them failing under pressure in years gone by.

Prediction: France to win by 1-10pts @ 9/5

First try scorer: Gabin Villiere @ 10/1

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Warren Barner