French connections

Sky Bet's Nigel Askham puts the questions to the online bookmaker's rugby product manager Chris Smart.

Last Updated: 02/03/12 8:06pm

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Clerc: Well backed to cross for a try in Paris against the Irish

Clerc: Well backed to cross for a try in Paris against the Irish

Sky Bet

Q: The re-arranged France versus Ireland clash takes place in Paris on Sunday. Is all the money for France?

France (2/7) have a great record against Ireland (5/2) in Paris and although they have not impressed hugely thus far punters seem to be favouring them.

Q: Who are the punters favouring in the try scoring markets?

Tommy Bowe (12/1 to score first try) is always well backed and his double last week has made him even more popular. For France, Vincent Clerc and Imanol Harinordoquy are always backed and this game is no exception at 10/1 and 22/1 respectively for the first try.

Q: Handicap-wise, would you give Ireland hope with an eight-point start?

Eight points is a decent start for a strong team that scores points. Ireland are very rarely overrun.

Q: Are Wales still being well backed for the title after their thrilling win over England at Twickenham?

It's hard to see past them at 8/15. They can possibly afford to lose to France and still win the title. I think people will be more interested in backing them in the potential Grand Slam decider if it gets to that stage.

Q: There are a couple of crunch clashes at the top of the Aviva Premiership on Sunday. Let's start with your views on the market for Saracens (second) at home to Northampton (third)?

Saracens (2/5) look strong as ever and should be too good at home for a Northampton (15/8) side that misses a number of key players and are not great on their travels. Saracens seem to function as a unit whoever they might be missing miss and with Charlie Hodgson back this week look hard to beat.

Q: Welford Road sees the clash between fourth-placed Leicester and the side immediately behind them in the table Gloucester. Might home advantage just swing this one in the Tigers favour?

Gloucester (3/1) are on the up and you could give them every chance if they weren't heading to Welford Road against a Leicester (1/4) team in red-hot form, and if Gloucester travelled better. The corresponding game last year was 41-41, so we'll hope for a repeat of that!

Q: As the domestic league season heads for the business end are reigning champions Saracens still strong in the market and where do you see the main challenge coming from?

Harlequins (3/1 to win Grand Final) have faded slightly after their blistering start but with key players to return they still top the league and look the best side in the competition. Leicester (11/4) are hitting form again and could be the one side to threaten.

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