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6 Nations: Final round preview

By John Birch

Friday, 7.30pm: Ireland v Scotland (Milltown House, Ashbourne, County Meath, Leinster)

Irelands incredible journey from Six Nations also-rans to arguably one of Europes top three reaches its climax this evening when they look to steal a best-ever runners-up finishing spot in this years tournament. All that stands in their way are Scotland, and events in Rennes later in the evening. A win for Ireland at fortress Ashbourne seems pretty much a given. After such a good start, the Scots have gone backwards and a 9-try 51-0 home defeat to a less-then-full strength England last week would have been very disappointing. They should not prove a significant barrier to a third Irish win. However, its the size of victory that matters - Ireland probably need to win by at least 20-30 points if they are to overtake France. But there is no reason why they couldnt do it.

Ireland and Scotland head to head stats:

First played: 1993
Overall: Played 17, Ireland 3, Scotland 14
Six Nations: Played 12, Ireland 3, Scotland 9
Largest Scottish win: Scotland 28, Ireland 3 (1997)
Last Scottish win: Ireland 10, Scotland 11 (World Cup 2006, St Albert, Canada)
Largest Irish win: Scotland 0, Ireland 23 (2009)

Friday, 8.00pm: France v England (Stade Velodrome, Rennes)

France really seem to have turned a corner this year they will enter the World Cup showing the sort of form that they have not shown since they last won the Six Nations in 2005. At home in particular they have proved awesome, but this weekend sees their biggest test can they hold a rampant England. Its a tough ask. Last season the teams met twice in England and Canada with the English brushing the French aside with wins by 52-7 and 43-8, while the last English visit to France in 2008 saw a 31-0 defeat for the home team. Defeats on this scale, as well as being a significant set back, could also cost the French the runners-up position, but in practice though England should win it is unlikely that it will be by anything like these margins.

France and England head to head stats:

First played: 1991
Overall: Played 25, France 7, England 18
Six Nations: Played 11, France 4, England 7
Largest French win: England 0, France 19 (FIRA Championship, 1999)
Last French win: England 10, France 13 (2005)
Largest English win: England 57, France 0 (2003)

Sunday, 2.00pm: Wales v Italy (Bridgend RFC)

There is a strong element of after the Lord Mayors Show about this game with nothing but pride at stake. Wales will probably be pleased to see an end to what has been for them a severely disappointing tournament but they will be looking for a win to move ahead of Scotland and into fourth place. For Italy it will be damage limitation. Agonisingly close to a win against Scotland, they have not been in the running in their other three game and even a below par Welsh team you imagine may be too much for them.

Wales and Italy head to head stats:

First played: 1999
Overall: Played 9, all won by Wales
Largest Welsh win: Wales 35, Italy 3 (2002 World Cup, Barcelona)
Best Italian result: Italy 24, Wales 25 (2000 FIRA Championship, El Ejido, Spain)