England hold the aces
Top of the table and with the advantage of taking the field after their two title rivals have completed their final matches, this is now England’s championship to lose.
By the time referee Steve Walsh signals kick-off in Twickenham at 5pm, England will know exactly what is required if they are to reverse the trend of recent seasons and come out on top of a Six Nations championship decided on points difference.
Stuart Lancaster’s side will be hoping to avoid further heartache after losing out by the slimmest of margins in successive years.
France, however, will be arrive in London eager to play the role of party-poopers.
In truth, the home side should be coming into this one with a far healthier points advantage over their rivals after butchering a number of try scoring opportunities against Scotland last Saturday.
France may have misfired in this year’s championship but remain stingy in defence, conceding the joint least amount of points (46) alongside Ireland, while giving up just two tries.
All of which could prove crucial in the shake-up come Saturday evening.
Geoff Parling makes his first start since returning to fitness and forms a strong second row partnership alongside Courtney Lawes, with Lancaster no doubt expecting a ferocious battle up front.
Similarly, Philippe Saint-Andre has recalled Vincent Debaty to add extra grunt to the front row, with 22 stone Uini Atonio waiting to add his heft from the bench.
However, it is in the backs where England look to have the edge. Top try-scorer Jonathan Joseph has been the find of the tournament, while just a year into his Test career, George Ford already looks the real deal.
Jack Nowell was one of those guilty of lacking a killer touch against the Scots but he can’t be faulted for his overall contribution, making more clean breaks (7) than any other player in the championship, despite only featuring in two of the four games to date.
With that firepower and form it’s hard to see anything beyond a home win.
However, when you factor in French pride, not to mention the fact that technically Les Bleus can still take the title should they win by more than eight points (and both Wales and Ireland fail to win) it become less clear cut.
England cannot be as wasteful against a France side who will cough up less opportunities than the Scots last time out.
Should England take the chances that do come their way, the home side look good to secure a narrow victory – and are available to take the spoils by 1-10 points at 7/5.
The big question is whether that will be enough for outright glory…
The match kicks off at 5.00pm on Saturday, March 21st at Twickenham, London