THE PARS secured an important win last week but backing it up will not be easy when they travel to Somerset Park on Saturday.

Ayr have rallied since their embarrassing Scottish Cup exit and are only two points behind leaders Ross County. Despite the 15-point disparity and home advantage, the Honest Men are still quoted at 6/5 (Hills) to defeat the Pars; Athletic being 11/5 (Betfred) and a draw 13/5 (Bet365).

Last week’s victory might be a springboard to better things and victory would put Dunfermline’s ambitions for the season in a different light. However, they have to prove they can back up one good result with another and despite it possibly being a trap game for those taking the 6/5, the home side should not be odds against given the current standings.

Prediction: Ayr 2 Dunfermline 1.

Dundee are beginning to scrap their way towards safety in the Scottish Premiership and can further increase the probability of beating the drop by securing victory at home to Hibernian tomorrow (Friday) evening (BT Sport 2, 7.45pm). The bookies, however, foresee a struggle for the Dark Blues: Hibs are 7/8 (Betway), a draw 11/4 (Bet365/Betfred) and Dundee 7/2 (Betfair Sportsbook).

Hamilton have slipped into the league’s bottom two and a home game with Rangers is not an ideal fixture with which to reverse their current plight (BT Sport 1, Sunday 12.15pm). The Gers are 1/4, a draw 5/1 and the Accies 12/1 (Ladbrokes).

Later that afternoon (3pm, not live), the two teams that have won their last five games clash at Parkhead. Celtic are 1/5 to keep their streak going, Motherwell 19/1 (Betfair Sportsbook) while it is 6/1 that both runs are ended by a stalemate.

The English Football League Cup final occurs on Sunday (4.30pm, Sky Sports Football) with two moneybags teams contesting the honours. Manchester City are 6/10 (Ladbrokes), Chelsea 5/1 (Boylesports) and a 90-minute draw 17/5 (Betfair Sportsbook). City are 2/5 (Boylesports) to lift the trophy and Chelsea 5/2.

Six Nations rugby returns this weekend for the third round of matches and Scotland will be hoping to record their second win when they visit the Stade de France on Saturday (BBC1, 2.15pm). The layers make France favourites to land the spoils: the hosts are 4/9, Scotland 2/1 and a draw 28/1. The best handicap options for each team (both priced at 10/11) are France -4 and Scotland +6.

Wales will be bidding to prevent England winning the Grand Slam and keep their own championship hopes alive when the two teams meet at the Principality Stadium (Saturday BBC1, 4.45 pm) but are 15/8 (Betway) to do so; England are 4/7 and a draw 25/1. Wales are +5 at evens (Betway) and England -4 at 10/11 on the handicap.

Ireland are fancied to trounce perennial basement boys Italy in Rome on Sunday (ITV, 3pm). The handicap prices are the only realistic way to have a bet on the outright result; Italy are +30 at evens whereas the Irish are -28 at 22/25 (Unibet).