Belfast Telegraph

The Punter: Wales on course for joy of six

Controversial decisions may have denied Ireland of victory against Wales in Dublin but at the stark fact is the Irish did not deserve to win. Wales did as they were much the better side.

And in George North who breathed fire into Welsh dragon on their way to a dramatic two-point victory, they had the best player on the park.

Yes, Bradley Davies should have been red-carded for his off-the-ball tip tackle on Donnacha Ryan and undoubtedly Davies will face a ban in due course after being cited.

And in the final minute, Ireland might had a bad call following Stephen Ferris' tackle on Ian Evans. It was a high-risk effort by the Ulsterman and one always likely to give rise to a penalty call from the referee.

Ireland didn't have anyone to match North in terms of power, strength and athleticism, qualities that make the 19-year-old mountain of a winger, a rising star in the game.

How the green jerseys held a 10-5 lead at half-time was a mystery and the fact that they couldn't hold on to it against a Welsh side weakened by injury to skipper Sam Warburton, speaks volumes.

Wales dominated the first period and should have had more than one try. Before Leigh Halfpenny (pictured) cashed in for Welsh backers with that last-minute kick, Ireland were matched on Betfair for £125,000 at 1.20 (1-5).

The layers got it badly wrong in making Wales five points underdogs as their World Cup campaign showed they are the best of the Triple Crown nations.

They can drive that home by putting Scotland to the sword and are worth taking at 10-11 giving the Scots 12 points.

Ireland are on their way to Paris and the French too, look the part in the handicap market, conceding nine points.

England must give Italy a start of eight points but the Italians are no pushovers these days and only lost by 12 to France. An England win certainly, but whether by nine points or more is another matter especially in Rome.

England, Wales and France in a treble |(1-4; 1-8 and 1-4), pays around 8-11. The only chance of an upset is Ireland and that's not high on the agenda.

Wales after that dramatic winning start, will only get better with the return of injured players and 13-8 for the Championship has to be taken. They could well do the Grand Slam and with the French at home 11-4 is no mean bet. As for the Triple Crown, 6-5 for what's a shoot-out with England.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph