- Scotland: After impressive victories over both Ireland and Wales earlier in the tournament, Scotland travelled south full of hope of securing their first Triple Crown in 27 years. But they were blown away by England, conceding seven tries in the process, and will be looking to end their campaign with a much-improved performance in front of their own supporters.
- Italy: Winless Italy are on a five-match losing streak, and go into Saturday off the back of a 18-40 defeat to France at the Stadio Olimpico. They’re yet to pick up a single point in this year’s championship, and will be looking to do all they can to claim at least a losing bonus point at the final time of asking.
So much was expected of Scotland in the Calcutta Cup, but they never recovered from their poor start. After Fraser Brown’s yellow card, Jonathan Joseph’s try and Stuart Hogg’s injury, they immediately found themselves playing catch-up against world rugby’s form side. Injuries played their part – with a centre at full-back and fly-half on the wing at various stages – but they cannot use that as an excuse, although it was a contributing factor to their spectacular downfall in south west London. Odds-on favourites with the bookmakers to get back to winning ways against the Azzurri, the Scots are 7/4 to open the scoring with a try.
Outplayed and outclassed by England from the first whistle, stand-in captain John Barclay described his Scotland side as ‘useless’ post-match. The home side will be looking for a response on Saturday and are priced at 11/5 to beat Italy by 21-30 points. One point currently separates four sides in the championship table, and if results go Scotland’s way, they can still finish runners-up behind England - Six Nations, and possible Grand Slam, winners.
The Scots should be targeting a four-try bonus point against an Italian side that has scored the fewest points – and conceded the most – in this season’s tournament. Conor O’Shea’s side have shipped 172 points in 320 minutes, a 43-point average per game, and scored only 50. They’ve also missed a tournament-high 140 tackles, an average of 35 per Test, and lost the most lineouts (9). However, underdogs Italy have beaten Scotland on seven previous occasions, and are 14/1 to do so again this weekend by 1-10 points.
There have been calls for Georgia to replace Italy in the tournament, and after the Georgians beat Russia in front of 55,000 fans in the 2017 Rugby Europe Championship this past weekend, the Azzurri will want to end their campaign with something to show for their effort and endeavour. The quality has sadly been lacking from their perspective, however, the visitors are 11/4 to score the game’s first try in Edinburgh.
But even the most optimistic Italian supporter must concede Scotland are favourites, and the hosts should give departing head coach Vern Cotter the winning send-off he deserves in his last match in charge before handing the reigns over to Glasgow Warriors’ Gregor Townsend. They may even pick up the four-try bonus point to close his tenure with a resounding victory.
- Sports.net’s Top Tip: Scotland to win by 21-25 points - 13/2
*Please note that odds may fluctuate.