Free Picks: Ireland vs. Wales RBS Six Nations

Richard O'Hagan

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 7:18 PM GMT

Both sides won their opening matches at the weekend and now meet in Dublin. Both will be anxious to secure the win and retain the chance of both the Grand Slam and the Triple Crown.

Free Picks: Scotland vs. England RBS Six Nations

Assessing sides on the basis of just one game is sometimes hard, but the most important thing that we learned from the opening weekend of the 2014 Six Nations is that neither of these sides is as good as they were expected to be.

Ireland’s game on Sunday against Scotland was one of the grimmest games seen in the Championship for a long while. Both sides spent long periods camped in midfield, battering away against defences that they lacked the skill or wit to defeat. The 28-6 scoreline flattered Ireland, even though they were the better side overall and they can’t expect Wales to make as many telling errors as the Scots did come Saturday.

Free Picks: France vs. Italy RBS Six Nations

Wales were never behind in their game against Italy, but they were run closer than the 23-15 scoreline suggested. Indeed, had Italian fly half Tommasso Allan had his kicking boots on properly, the visitors would have pulled off a shock win. Warren Gatland’s side will need to be a lot better this weekend than they were last if they are to take anything away from this game.

Both sides hope to have key players back for the game. Veteran Irish lock Paul O’Connell was a late scratch from the Scotland game with a chest infection and the Irish badly missed his leadership and firepower. Wales expect to have Jonathan Davies available after a long injury layoff, reuniting him with his Lions centre partner Jamie Roberts in the best back division in the northern hemisphere.

Ireland are the market favourites for this game, best priced at 1.72 with Bet365 and shortening all the time. Wales, though, are 2.25 at Ladbrokes and although Dublin is a tough place for visiting sides to win, the reigning champions look a very good price to do so.

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