Sky Bet previews best odds ahead of the Six Nations
Last Updated: January 28, 2013 1:09pm
Chris Ashton: 7/1 to be top-scorer in this year's RBS Six Nations
England come into this year's RBS 6 Nations as pre-tournament favourites, with their infamous win over the All Blacks last year going a long way to securing that.
England beat the reigning world champions 38-21 in December and this has had a repercussion on the betting for this year's European competition as the English start at 2/1 favourites with Sky Bet.
They are not alone in the short odds, however, as France match England at 2/1 to win the tournament outright.
Having finished second to Grand Slam winners Wales in last year's event, the English will be hoping that form can see them top the table this time out.
England have won 43 from 65 games in the Six Nations which is the third highest behind France and Ireland, while they have only lost twice in their last 10 Six Nations fixtures.
England have also scored more points than any other side in Six Nations history with 1,829 but a few key injuries may hamper their attacking prowess this time out.
There are injury doubts over flanker Calum Clark (shoulder), Freddie Burns and Alex Corbisiero (both knee) and all three are likely to miss the first few games of the tournament.
One man who will be pulling on the famous England jersey is winger Chris Ashton.
The Saracens winger is very popular with punters to open the try-scoring, scoring anytime and topping the try-scoring lists overall.
For him to be the top scorer in this year's Six Nations it's 7/1, only France's Vincent Clerc (13/2) ahead of him.
Ashton found his try-scoring form again in that game against the All Blacks in December after backing up Manu Tuilagi to cross the white wash.
That was his 16th try in 29 starts for England, a ratio of over a try every other game, which is slightly better than his French rival Clerc.
Another positive for England is that they have all the blue teams; France, Scotland and Italy, at home this time out and will be confident of scoring points to give them advantage in the points difference column, should it come down to that.
It also means that England will have an extra game at Twickenham, where they have only lost six games in the last 10 years in the Six Nations.
Playing France at home will be a huge advantage to the English as they have only lost to them twice in their last 13 meetings at Twickenham in the Six Nations.
England are 11/2 to win the Grand Slam this year but with games away in Ireland and Wales it may be tough, but certainly not out of the question.
Last year's Grand Slam winners, Wales, are a huge 12/1 to win it for a successive year but their form in the last 12 months justifies that.
The Welsh have lost their last seven games in all outings since their Grand Slam triumphs and are also 4/1 outsiders to lift the Six Nation's trophy.
Just like England, the Welsh have a number of injury concerns coming into the tournament too, with Ryan Jones (thumb) the latest to join the casualty list.
With Alun-Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris, Bradley Davies and Ian Evens all struggling to be fit for the opening few games, it might not be until Round 3 or 4 before the Welsh can really start to feel at full-strength.
With that in mind, the 'Total Number of Welsh Wins' market could prove interesting for Wales.
To win just the one game is 7/1 and two victories is 21/20.
Wales face Italy and Scotland away and England at the Millennium Stadium in their final three fixtures of the Six Nations campaign this year so, with the injuries early on, these are likely to be the games where they pick up points.
Wales have only lost three times against Scotland in the Six Nations since 1999 and just twice to the Italians in the history of the competition.
Speaking of the Italians, they are once again favourites for the wooden spoon at 2/7.
Although there are no major injury concerns for Italy coming into the competition, their record in this competition justifies the 200/1 odds on finishing top.
The Italians haven't won more than one game in one Six Nations campaign since 2007 and only have eight wins to their name since joining the (then) Five Nations competition in 2000.
The odds for Italy to repeat their heady heights of 2007 and win two games this year is 11/2 and to go one better is 28/1.
The other team from over the channel, France, have much higher ambitions in store this year and are joint favourites with England at 2/1.
They also join England at 11/2 to win the Grand Slam, which they did back in 2010.
One thing the French have in their armour this year is potency out wide.
They have the favourite for the top try scorer award in Vincent Clerc, but they also have centre or wing Wesley Fofana, who has been making waves down in the Southern Hemisphere recently.
He made five starts in last year's Six Nations and crossed the white wash four times so his odds of 9/1 look to be a good each way punt this year.
The French can also boast the most amount of wins in the Six Nations since its expansion in the year 2000 with 46.
They have the second best attack in the Six Nations and the second best defence too so they are going to be a hard team to break down.
With England and France leading the way in the outrights, I'm expecting their fixture at Twickenham to be the tightest of the lot, and therefore the lowest scoring game in the Six Nations this year. For that to happen you can get a massive 9/1.
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The safe money is going on England to win the tournament this year as they have a very strong side at the moment with some good young prospects.
Freddie Burns will show some class but his injury in the first two games may prove pivotal. England are at home to Scotland in the opening weekend with a -16 handicap and a lot of people are already lumping on this.
I expect the handicap to increase depending on the situation with Tuilagi's injury.
I would stay away from the triple crown for England at 11/4 with away games in Ireland and Wales. England play Ireland away from home in their third fixture and that could be where the tournament is won.
Wales seem to be drifting due to injury problems and I think they will struggle.
The Welsh wonder boy George North hasn't had the best of seasons with a few injuries and he is 12/1 to be top try scorer.
I think Scotland could finish bottom, instead of the predicted Italy this year.
With fixtures away from home against England and France, they could be looking at a hugely negative point's difference.
Italy are at home to France, Wales and Ireland, which is very advantageous to them.
Both England over 3.5 wins (evens) and France over 3.5 wins (5/6) are shoe-ins with Sky Bet this year, as is Italy over 0.5 wins (4/5.)
Italy beat Scotland last year and in 2012 they beat France so another win could be on the cards for the Italians in 2013.