England: Still unbeaten under the guidance of Jones, England come into Round Three having won every Test post-2015 Rugby World Cup. They followed up their opening Six Nations victory over France with a scintillating 21-16 win over Wales at the Principality Stadium, and are rightly odds-on with the bookmakers to win this year’s championship. They should simply have too much quality across the board for a struggling Azzurri side to cope with.
Italy: Despite starting their campaign with consecutive home games, Italy have had a difficult beginning to this year’s Six Nations. Two home losses on the bounce with 12 tries conceded in two games means they face a daunting trip to Twickenham low on self-belief, confidence and momentum. Their autumn victory over South Africa now feels a distant memory, and they’ll do well to avoid this year’s Wooden Spoon based on current form.
Grand Slam-chasing England are looking for their 17th consecutive Test victory, and are 4/1 to beat Italy by a staggering 51-60 points. Whatever resistance a Sergio Parisse-led outfit can muster against an unrelenting English onslaught, the Red Rose should pull away on the hour-mark and build a comfortable lead in the last twenty minutes.
Although Jones may field a much-changed starting XV, Saturday presents a potential opportunity for the likes of Ben Te’o, Jamie George and Danny Care to start, having all impressed in closing out victories from the bench in recent weeks. The likes of Mako Vunipola and Anthony Watson have also been named in the wider 28-man training squad ahead of the game, after missing the opening games through injury. England’s backs have caught the eye in recent weeks, and a back is 2/5 to score the first try at Twickenham.
Italy suffered major defensive and discipline problems against their Celtic rivals, missing a combined 61 tackles - more than any other team. Unable to profit from two outings at the Stadio Olimpico, Italy go into this weekend still looking for their first ever win over England. However, they’re 25/1 to be leading at half-time on Sunday and head coach Conor O’Shea will be looking for a much-improved performance from his men.
There have been concerns raised over Italy’s competitiveness and worth in future Six Nations, and calls for Georgia to replace Italy in the tournament have only become louder in recent weeks. Their showings thus far have done nothing to calm those fears. England won the corresponding fixture 40-9 last season and will be targeting a maximum four-try bonus point victory. The bookmakers can only see one outcome, so expect England to cut loose and try to rack up as many points as possible once the game has been won.
- Sports.net’s Top Tip: England to win by 56-60 points – 10/1
*Please note that odds may change in the run up to the match.