So we enter the final furlong and the PSA Academies 6 Nations Prediction Challenge – Final Week.
And who would have expected it but South African Johan has hit the front and is threatening a shock last-to-first victory with just three match predictions left to play for.
With 5 points for a correct result prediction and 5 points for a correct winning margin/total draw match points total, there’s still time but no margin for error.
PSA Academies 6 Nations Predictions Challenge – Final Week : Latest standings after Week 4
1st place – Johan – 40 points
2nd place – Neil + Philippe tied – 35 points
4th place – Johne – 30 points
As a reminder, the expert with the most points at the end of the tournament is crowned the PSA Academies 6 Nations Predictions Challenge ‘King of the Picks’, whilst the person finishing last gets to do a public PSA Academies 6 Nations Predictions Challenge forfeit at the Sport Meets Adventure Charity Fundraising Dinner in Finborough School on Saturday 1st April.
Saturday 18 March – Scotland v Italy, 1230hrs kick off
Johan – Scotland are back in Murrayfield so normal service should resume. After two impressive earlier in the competition against Ireland and Wales, the Scots will be on a mission to banish the memories of a disastrous trip to London last weekend. Italy have their Twickenham experience to fall back on and will be scrappy but they will have to wait until 2018 for a chance to record another 6 Nations win.
Prediction – Scotland to win by 22 points
Johne Murphy (@MurphyJohne) – hard not to fancy the Scots at home, especially after the massive anti climax that was their in-disciplined record defeat in Twickenham last weekend. They are a better team than that, especially at home, and they’ll be busting a gut to prove it with a final win of a very promising campaign. Italy are starting to show signs of a positive future and will be competitive for 60 minutes but expect Scotland pressure to tell in the end.
Prediction – Scotland to win by 18 points
Philippe Saint-André (@PSaintAndre) – It has been a long championship for Italy and they’re standard usually drops by the last round. There best chance of a 6 Nations win is usually against the Scots but not this year! Scotland have been very good at home and have something big to prove after the England loss. They will be fast, focussed and ferocious, with Italy not able to live with the pace in any area.
Prediction – Scotland to win by 30 points
Neil Marchant (@NeilMarchant2) – Scotland the brave will finish off by being brave again and throwing everything at the Italians. They have something to prove after a disappointing game against the English. The Scottish followers expected so much more last week and they didn’t deliver. Expect ferocious rucking up front, a smart half back gameplan and some hard, direct running in the outside backs. Italy will be worthy but no more.
Prediction – Scotland to win by 21 points
Saturday 18 March – France v Wales, 1445hrs kick off
Johan Taylor – It’s been another very French week in French rugby so Wales will be gunning for a quick start and a chance to pile on the pressure from the off in Paris. The French have looked good at times this 6 Nations but who knows what we’re going to see this time. The percentage call is another strong welsh performance, led by their in-form backrow, but I fancy France to rip up the form book and get the win they need to end on a high.
Prediction – France to win by 3 points
Johne Murphy – What a week for French rugby. Maybe they are at their most dangerous when chaos prevails but it’s hard not to feel like the massive distraction of the Top 14 political scene isn’t going to tell. Anyone could see how much Wales wanted the win at home versus Ireland and having been so poor in Murrayfield after the close defeat to England, it will be an interesting test to see if they ‘show up’ for a dead rubber in Paris. Have a suspicion the lure of Lions places will be enough to pull another big performance from the Welsh headliners and I fancy them to edge it.
Prediction – Wales to win by 8 points
Philippe Saint-André – It has been a difficult week for Parisienne Rugby which might be a good or bad thing for the preparation for this game. I see it as a positive, a chance for the team and crowd to show their passion for the game. The performance against Italy was positive after a slow start and although Wales will be strong after the Ireland win, I think France will want this win more. Expect a good game with positive rugby.
Prediction – France to win by 4 points
Neil Marchant – The one’s too close to call. Both teams have something to prove and want to finish off on a high. Wales are on a roll following the battle with Ireland in Cardiff and France easily accounted for Italy in Rome. Wales may get the job done but who cares???
Prediction – Wales to win by 7 points
Saturday 18 March – Ireland v England, 1700hrs kick off
Johan – It’s not the Grand Slam decider that was expected but we can still expect an epic clash from arguably the two best squads in the Championship. The Irish are carrying injuries and a Cardiff hangover but they’re better than they showed last week and will be desperate to derail an increasingly arrogant England set up. As for England they are good but still have their weak links if a clever gameplay and conditions go against them. Out of pure need, expect a narrow Irish win.
Prediction – Ireland to win by 3 points
Johne – If Carlsberg did 6 Nation dead rubbers, hosting an England team one win away from a Grand Slam and world record number of consecutive wins would be it. If we beat this mob on Saturday, all the doom and gloom post-Cardiff will seem a lifetime ago. Actually doing that is a different matter though. Joe Schmidt has been forced into two enforced and one tactical changes, with a huge ask of Kieron Marmion to deliver against possible Lions starter Ben Youngs. On the basis of last week’s performances, there’ll be no contest but with a showery forecast and the occasion involved, it’s likely to be a toss of a coin between them. If Sexton stays out of trouble, expect a masterclass and a narrow Irish win.
Prediction – Ireland to win by 4 points
Philippe – as a French man, there is only one team that I want to win this one but can Ireland find their best game with injuries and poor form to deal with. England have been strong but not brilliant until their last game against Scotland so the question is, are they as good as their record says? This will be a massive test match and very close, with the better disciplined team to win. I think it will be Ireland with their maestro Sexton as man of the match.
Prediction – Ireland to win by 3 points
Neil – Here we go, the big one, the record breaking 19th straight win and a back-to-back Grand Slam! (We’ll see! – Ed) With the 6 Nation Championship already secure (as the ‘Simple, English, Beer Drinking Fan’ rightly predicted at the start!!) and England nearly at full strength (emotionally, mentally and physically), things are looking ominous for the Irish. And the clincher should be a bench of England ‘finishers’ that could easily be in the starting 15. With Ireland not having anything to play for but pride, in front of an Irish crowd still hungover from St Patricks Day, its going to be tough but I can see no other result than Ireland leaving Aviva Stadium with more sore heads and England leaving triumphant with the trophy & bragging rights.
Prediction – England to win by 15 points
Best of luck to all for the last day and enjoy the rugby wherever you are this Saturday.