Dreams Dashed and Made in Round 2
After the second round of the 6 Nations, a clearer picture is emerging of who will be challenging for the trophy on Super Saturday. There were far more tries than last week and just as much drama. After the weekend, who still has a chance at 6 Nations glory and what teams have had their dreams dashed?
France 10 – Ireland 9
While the conditions didn’t make for the best rugby, the opening game of the weekend still ended up being a close and tense affair. Ireland, as prior champions went in favourites for the match but France dug in and managed to use the slippy conditions to their advantage. It seemed neither team were able to make a potent attack, that was until Maxime Médard scored a fantastic try in the 70th minute which would seal the game for the home side.
Sadly, the win wasn’t the only story of the match. Ireland were forced to make multiple substitutions through injury, losing key players like Sean O’Brien and Jonny Sexton. They will be grateful for the week off of the Championship that will hopefully mean a fully fit team come February 27th.
The prospect of a third Championship in a row for Ireland is now extremely unlikely but that dream remains a possibility until we see what happens in Round 3.
Stand out Players:
Medard (France): Scored the crucial try of the match and was the shining light in a grim game.
Payne (Ireland): Was a big reason the game stayed so tight. Had the highest tackle count for the visitors.
Wales 27 – Scotland 23
It seemed like we might be seeing the same old Scotland when Wales scored a try in the opening minutes of the 2nd game of the weekend. Then in the 12th minute, Scotland answered with a fantastic try kicked perfectly by Finn Russell to Seymour in the corner. It became apparent to fans that this would be the game of tournament so far.
For the best part of the first half and start of the 2nd, Scotland looked like a team that could win at Cardiff for the first time since 2002. But as has often been the criticism of the Scottish team, they were unable to go the distance. The gaps started to appear and George North beat 4 defenders to get the decisive try of the match, putting the home team comfortably ahead of Scotland with 10 minutes to go.
Wales remain strong contenders for the title but they will need to get wins against the unbeaten France and England if they are to lift the trophy in March. There were flashes of the quality we expect from the men in red at the weekend but they will need to up the intensity for the 2nd half of the tournament.
Stand out Players:
J Roberts (Wales): As ever, a bulldozer. Great in defence and powered through the Scottish line for a try.
Seymour (Scotland): Found form after a disappointing first round. Part of the reason it is so hard to believe Scotland haven’t won a 6 Nations game for 9 matches.
Italy 9 – England 40
Two games in and England have put themselves in a strong position at the top of table. No tries conceded and a far better Point Difference than 2nd place France, England will be feeling confident after their win in Rome but it was no pushover. The 40-9 final scoreline looks more assured than the English fans faces did at half-time.
For the first 40 minutes, Italy kept England guessing and thanks to the boot of Carlo Canna, were within two points of the visitors at the 40 minute whistle. It was Valentine’s Day heartbreak for the home fans in the second half however. A more attacking England emerged, which then emptied a strong bench to do even more damage. 29 unanswered points later, the Italians would of been glad to hear the final whistle.
While it is the best start England could have hoped for, especially given the changes in management, tougher tests lie in wait for the remaining Rounds. England will face Ireland at Twickenham next.
Stand out Players:
Joseph (England): Back to the form that made him a break out star in last year’s 6 Nations.
Canna (Italy): After struggling to score any penalties in the last tournament, Italy have found a competent and exciting 10 in Carlo Canna.