Italy v England: Jones' side to boost Six Nations title hopes with one-sided win

Six Nations favourites England head to Italy on the final day and Simon Mail thinks they will move to the brink of the title with a convincing win...

Italy v England
Saturday, 16:45
Live on ITV

England need big win to land title

England complete their Six Nations campaign this weekend, seven months after their last match, with Eddie Jones' side in pole position to win the title. Although England are in second place, their task in Italy is much more straight forward than leaders Ireland. A big win for England, earlier in the day, will leave Ireland or France needing at least a bonus point win in Paris to land the championship.

The World Cup finalists got off to a sluggish start after losing their Six Nations opener in France. England got off the mark by grinding out a 13-6 win at Scotland in stormy conditions in February before upping their level to defeat Ireland 24-12 at Twickenham. In their last outing, England held off a comeback from Wales to win 33-30 and it has been a long wait to compete again after the delays caused by the pandemic.

Exeter lock Jonny Hill will make his England debut after helping the Chiefs win the domestic-European double. Hill lines up alongside Maro Itoje in the second row. Owen Farrell captains the side while scrum-half Ben Youngs will win his 100th cap. Hooker Jamie George also reaches the milestone of 50 caps in the Stadio Olimpico this weekend.

Italy facing another Six Nations defeat

Italy will finish bottom of the Six Nations for the fifth year in a row as their winless run in the competition extended to 25 games. The side returned to action last weekend in their 50-17 defeat in Ireland. Debutant Paolo Garbisi scored a superb solo try but it was another tough afternoon for Franco Smith's team.

England have completely dominated their games against Italy and their last seven meetings have all resulted in wins by at least 21 points. Jones knows his side need a big win in Rome this weekend and an attacking gameplan is in store with the possibility of points difference deciding the title. There is the possibility of rust, having not played for over half a year, but England should have no problems securing maximum points in Italy.

It has been an extended wait for England to end their campaign and the 1.38 title favourites can justify this status with a dominant win over Italy. England's last three victories against them have all been by at least 31 points and this could be another punishing defeat for Italy. The handicap mark is set at 33 points but preference is to back an England win by 31 to 40 points at more appealing odds.

Wales v Scotland
Saturday, 14:15
Live on BBC One

Wales desperate to halt losing run

The title will not be on the line at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday but there will be plenty of pride at stake with Wales finishing the competition at home to Scotland. Wayne Pivac's first season in charge has been a challenging one with successive defeats to Ireland, France and England leaving last year's Grand Slam champions languishing in fifth place. Wales lost 38-21 last weekend to France in an international warm-up.

Scotland aiming for significant scalp

Scotland have shown more promise, with two wins including an impressive home victory against France, which will send them to Wales with confidence. Fly-half Finn Russell returns from his exile after making his comeback from off the bench during last weekend's 48-7 win against Georgia. He is joined in the team by Exeter full-back Stuart Hogg as Scotland target a rare win in Wales.

Although Wales have beaten Scotland in their last three clashes, this could be a good opportunity for the visitors to upset the odds. Wales are in transition, following the departure of Warren Gatland, with the side losing their last four matches. Scotland will be lifted by the return of Russell and Gregor Townsend's side can keep this contest close. Wales look vulnerable favourites and preference is to back Scotland with a six point handicap advantage.

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