The Welsh can be England's undoing

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The Independent Online
The Five Nations' Championship is all but over, with France as short as 1-16 to claim a rare Grand Slam on Saturday, a somewhat skinnier price than the 7-4 at which they were recommended here before the tournament began. England, meanwhile, will surely travel to the Arms Park in subdued mood after throwing away a big lead against the French.

It seems a little surprising, then, that the English are long odds-on with William Hill. Hills go 4-11 about Phil de Glanville's men, with Wales available at 2-1 and the draw at 16-1. After they displayed such a brittle side last time out, the Arms Park is not the ideal place to go in search of a confidence boost, and a small bet on the home side seems a fair option.

Most of the betting which matters this week will be taking place at the Cheltenham Festival, which is probably where John Parrott and Peter Ebdon might prefer to be. Instead, the racing-mad snooker players will be contesting the Thai Open, but since their minds could be elsewhere, neither makes much appeal. Stephen Hendry is an obvious choice, but those in search of a more speculative and potentially lucrative choice may prefer the 16-1 offered by Coral against Mark Williams.

The Coca-Cola Cup finalists will be decided this week, with this column's original selections Middlesbrough (9-1) and Wimbledon (25-1) both poised for a trip to Wembley. It is impossible to see Boro throwing way their first-leg lead against Stockport, but anyone with vouchers for Wimbledon should think hard about a small hedge on Leicester at 5-1 (Hills).

THAI OPEN SNOOKER (Coral): 13-8 Hendry, 5-1 Higgins, 11-2 O'Sullivan, 9-1 Parrott, 10-1 Ebdon, 16-1 Williams, Doherty, 18-1 McManus, 20-1 Wattana, 25-1 Davis, 40-1 Drago, 50-1 White, Bond, 66-1 Robidoux, Hunter, Harold, King, 80-1 others.

EUROPEAN CUP (Ladbrokes): 5-4 Juventus, 3-1 Man Utd, 4-1 B Dortmund, 5-1 A Madrid, 12-1 Ajax, 33-1 Auxerre, 66- 1 Rosenborg, 100-1 Porto.

FA CUP (Ladbrokes): 6-4 Middlesbrough, 15-8 Chelsea, 9-4 Wimbledon, 14- 1 Chesterfield. (Hills): 6-4 Middlesbrough, 7-4 Chelsea, 5-2 Wimbledon, 16-1 Chesterfield.

COCA-COLA CUP (Hills): evens Middlesbrough, 5-4 Wimbledon, 5-1 Leicester, 66-1 Stockport.

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