CARDIFF, WALES – Okay, so after some delay, our Expert Panel finally convened (awoke from the siesta) and got their picks and reasons in… And just to review, the Panel is comprised of West Ghana’s Rugby Rain Man Junoir Blaber, Ireland’s quick-witted fly-half (that’s redundant) Kevin Fegan, the infamous Ireland National, Declan Yeats, feisty French #8 Pyk O’Kallapfer, contrived Kiwi Johnathan Wicklow Barberie and newest staff member, England’s own, Jamie Lloyd. This Six Pack’s picks are the stuff of legends. They each pick the winners of each match and a Pick Of The Week, for which they must also provide the margin of victory. Now, without further ado, let’s look at the Round 1 6 Nations Picks & Previews from our Expert Panel… And their reasons behind their picks:
Wales v. Ireland
The group is more than slightly leaning toward Ireland. Here’s why:
BLABER: No Gatland and the Welsh injury-crisis makes victory impossible.
FEGAN: Last year’s winners are injured and rudderless and their best chance of a getting a grand slam this year would be at Denny’s. Ireland will prevail in a tight one.
Pyk: Poor results for The Leeks during the fall, but they’ll make up for it.
YEATS: I have to pick the Irish or the lads will hunt me down.
JWB: Tough to choose. New blood could serve Ireland but Wales always steps up in 6N. Wales win at home in the weekend’s best match.
LLOYD: Wales will be furious with their performances and will be champing at the bit to beat the men in green. BUT they will not have the consistency or the combinations in place to beat the Irish. Expect the Welsh to take a smashing up front. In a perfect world this would be a draw but somebody has to win in the predictions game.
England v. Scotland
England seem to be the heavy favorites and here is why;
BLABER: I hate Scott Johnson and Scotland just don’t have the backs, especially at Twickenham.
FEGAN: There has been a continuing trend in this fixture where England have been scared but not beaten. On this Goundhog Day Scotland will see their shadows again and be resigned to 6 more weeks of winter.
Pyk: The Scots will amaze everyone. In their preignable fortress of Murrayfield, they will catch the rosbifs off-guard. Their unexpected win over New Zealand made them believe they are better than they actually are.
YEATS: Pre-game Haggis blows the English pack away
JWB: England should dominate possession right from the Thistle. (See what I did there?) But Chris Ashton will mind-numbingly drop a try and keep the score within 12.
LLOYD: England at home in cracking form, without Tuilagi expect more guile in the midfield. The Scots will compete as ever but will not win this one.
Italy v. France
All aboard the France bandwagon and here is why;
BLABER: Phillipe Saint-Andre has France playing some really beautiful rugby.
FEGAN: France have got their sexy back and while Italy aways start well at home, they do not have the fire power to seriously threaten.
Pyk: But I don’t expect it to be easy… the group is relevant for the forwards, but there is no real fullback. Unfortunately for the Italians, Pascal Papé will play and defend his undefeated streak as captain!
YEATS: The Italians might have a shot if the were playing Bocci… The Frogs lay down the hammer in this one.
JWB: Les Bleus are chock full of top players and Italy need a new Wooden Spoon to stir the tomato sauce.
LLOYD: French will be looking to continue their good form. The Italians will run strongly for the first 20/25 minutes of each half, but ultimately the French should be superior.
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