Six Nations: JJ the value to finish top of England’s class

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SPORTS BETTING analyst Ben Hathaway (@SkipHopz) runs the rule over England ahead of the 2017 Six Nations, picking out the best betting opportunities ahead of the big kick-off.

Six Nations 2017 | England Team Guide

I genuinely can’t think of much worse than watching England at Twickenham, although there is something supremely likeable about Eddie Jones.

The ‘culture’ of Stuart Lancaster is now a distant laughing stock; the days of Rob Webber on the bench and Sam Burgess wondering what he was doing in the England midfield have been consigned to the dustbin of sporting mockery.

Eddie Jones has brought a winning mentality to the White Rose party, just as he did with Japan’s Brave Blossoms, and he’s an excellent host.

Are Eddie’s England the real deal?

But is this newfound world-beatery for real? Or has Eddie just benefitted from the emergence of Maro Itoje, a second row who plays like a 7, a 6, and an almost perfect lineout forward? Maybe.

The lock stocks look packed with athletic turnover merchants; Joe Launchbury, George Kruis, Courtney Lawes and Dave Attwood, with Itoje moving to blindside.

Owen Farrell and George Ford seem like the combination that knows how to win games, kick points, and steer the side around, and there is strike power aplenty out wide. Jack Nowell seems the form player in the British Isles, and the huge shorts and shirt of Billy Vunipola are filled by the excellent Fijian Nathan Hughes.

Formidable hosts

England are more than formidable at home. Since Five became the Six Nations, they boast an 86% win record (W36-D0-L6). If you look over more the past five years, it rises to 91% (W11-D0-L1), and tweaking that slightly, they’ve won their last 11 straight games at Twickenham in the Six Nations going back to 2012.

Only three of those 11 victories were by single-figure margins and I’d expect England to win all of their three home games – although it would be good for the competition in general if they didn’t, perhaps.

Scotland and Italy’s record at Twickenham are both laughable, and although the Scots have their best chance in a while to win at HQ, they are very unlikely to do so.

The annual oohs and ahhs over the French are back but contrary to popular belief, the supposed Gallic flair and unpredictable Les Blues outfit rarely cause England trouble at Twickenham – they’ve won once in the capital this millennium, back in 2005.

France have lost their last five visits by an average of 14 points. The side from across the Channel haven’t kept the score to within an eight-point margin in that time and whilst they may well do this time around, it seems very unlikely.

A reasonable road record

England aren’t too bad on their travels – W10-D0-L3 – over the last five Six Nations seasons. It’s worth noting the Red Rose did lose on their last visit to Dublin though; that’s where Jones’ troops conclude their campaign this time around in what’s billed as a title decider.

It’s that away trip that makes me think England aren’t great outright value at 20/23 (Betfair). If I was backing England, I’d prefer to be on the 9/4 (BetBright) available on the Grand Slam.

My ratings make England slightly bigger than the options on the street but I’m quite confident they win their first four games – which, if you roll into an accumulator, pays almost exactly even-money. There are worse short-priced four-folds around, especially with the outright so skinny.

The betting angle

I like Jonathan Joseph as top England’s top tryscorer at 7/1 (Paddy Power).

With England’s style of play, using Farrell at 12 as a distributor (ie not a sidestepping runner or a powerhouse gainline breaker) suits Joseph as the first ‘finisher’ once the ball is pushed through the hands and that’s the only recommended bet for England so far.

If you are after a long-odds interest punt, I like Nathan Hughes at 80/1 (Boylesports) for Six Nations Top Tryscorer.

Best Bets

Six Nations 2017 – Jonathan Joseph to be top England Tryscorer (7/1 Paddy Power)

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