Stan Hey: 6-5 Against

Showdown with auld enemy can be try-less affair

You sometimes wonder if those people who compile fixtures have a sadistic streak.

The compilers of the rugby World Cup gave England a tough start, Argentina, and an even tougher finish, Scotland, to their qualifying group. Elsewhere, other traditional rivalries dominate the football, creating a fantastic spectacle for fans but leaving punters edgy because "derbies" are too volatile to predict.

England (1-5 Stan James) should see off Scotland and reach a quarter-final against France, but the Scots (11-2, Victor Chandler), could prove a thistle in their side. In the last six meetings Scotland have won two and drawn one, and England's 22-16 win at Twickenham last winter wasn't comfortable. Scotland need an eight-point winning margin to leap into the Frogs next week.

England's coach Martin Johnson has picked his "dog-fight" unit with the "purists" on standby for Plan B. But it could all come down to a shootout between Jonny Wilkinson and Chris Paterson – £5 at Coral on "no try-scorer", 18-1.

The red mist has descended in recent Merseyside derbies as players feed off a Downton Abbey syndrome with Everton's "below stairs" team eager to trounce the rich "toffs". The draw seems the best bet – £10 at 9-4, totesport. Tomorrow's north London derby should see Spurs improve their record against Arsenal – £10 win Spurs (6-5 Betfred); £5 on Emmanuel Adebayor to score first goal, at 5-1, Bet 365.

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