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Stephen Ferris: Ireland can edge potential title-decider against France

| 11.02.2022

Ladbrokes ambassador Stephen Ferris is looking at this weekend’s second round of Six Nations games in which favourites France and Ireland collide in Paris.

Les Bleus are 4/9 to win on Saturday, while Ireland are available at 7/4, but Ferris is siding with the underdogs.

You can also read Ferris’ thoughts on the Wales v Scotland and Italy v England games by clicking on the links.

France v Ireland (Saturday, 16.45, ITV)

The two front runners for this year’s championship got off to flying starts. Ireland and France both secured four-try bonus points, however it was Ireland’s style of play that has everyone in world rugby talking. Rugby podcasts in New Zealand were even trying to get former Irish players to comment on Ireland’s attacking play. It just goes to show that even the best had the chance to admire some of Ireland’s performance against Wales on Saturday.

France, on the other hand, looked a little bit rusty and their star player Dupont was not at the races. He wouldn’t have made the first fence in the 2.30pm at Leopardstown on Sunday but any horse can have a bad day and quickly bounce back with a dominant display. I expect the  World Rugby Player of the Year to show us that bouncebackability we all know he has. France finished the game against Italy with a bit of swagger and will take much confidence from their second-half performance into this weekend.

This is the game of the weekend and in many people’s opinion whoever wins this one will win the championship. France are three-point favourites and I believe this is purely down to  home advantage. A neutral venue and I feel Ireland could easily be the favourites. So much is riding on this game for both teams and I’m expecting an absolute ding-dong of a battle between two heavyweights. Sexton vs Ntamack, Doris vs Aldritt, Hansen vs Villiere – I could go on and on listing the battles. So many world-class players that are in form going head-to-head will be compelling viewing.

Ireland have won two and drawn one of the last five games played between these two in Paris. It used to be a nightmare of an away fixture for Ireland but in recent years it’s been a happier hunting ground. Ireland can make it two on the bounce, but I reckon +5 on the handicap at 10/11 looks a good shout. If I’m right, I hope the Guinness is fully stocked up in the bars of the Champs-Élysées.

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Warren Barner