Fighting for Survival
After Round 2 in the 6 Nations the Championship has stayed fairly open. That could all change in Round 3 which could prove crucial as Super Saturday draws nearer. France and England remain unbeaten and will be feeling confident as the main contenders for the title. That could all change this weekend.
Despite having not won a game yet, if Ireland can beat England on Saturday, the top 4 teams could be within 2 points of each other for Round 4. Below is the table and points as they stand now:
1 England (2 wins from 2) 4
2 France (2 wins from 2) 4
3 Wales (1 win and 1 draw from 2) 3
4 Ireland (1 draw and 1 loss from 2) 1
5 Scotland (0 wins from 2) 0
6 Italy (0 wins from 2) 0
Once the dust has settled this weekend there will teams who will be unable to win the championship no matter what happens in Round 4 and 5 but the dreams of silverware are alive for many as the 6 nations go head to head on Friday and Saturday.
France exceeded expectations grinding out a win against current Champions, Ireland, in Round 2 in front of a home crowd but now face an even bigger challenge. Wales have not lost to France since 2011 and will head into the match strong favourites to come out victorious.
Both teams are still strong contenders for the title but as Wales only took 1 point from the first Round, this game is crucial for their campaign.
Wales Starting XV: Liam Williams, Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, George North, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Rob Evans, Scott Baldwin, Samson Lee, Bradley Davies, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton (capt), Taulupe Faletau.
France Starting XV: TBA
For the past 2 years in the 6 Nations this game has been won by the narrowest of margins. Scotland were served the wooden spoon by Italy last year after being beaten 19-22. The year before Scotland exactled similar heartbreak on a home crowd beating Italy 20-21. It’s likely to be a close affair again when they meet on Saturday.
Italy narrowly missed out on a opening round away victory over France and held their own against England for the first half in Round 2. This could lead to a more confident side marching out to take on the Scots in Rome.
Scotland meanwhile have lost their first two games of the Championship by 7 points or less and will be desperate to avoid the bottom of the table this year. Centre, Mark Bennet, maintains Scotland can still get 6 points out of this Championship. Much was made of Scotland’s Rugby World Cup performance before the tournament kicked off but it has yet to materialise into wins. Could victory on Saturday lead to more?
Italy Starting XV: TBA
Scotland Starting XV: TBA
England and Ireland have defied expectations so far in the opening rounds of the 6 Nations.
Under new management, England were expected to falter on away trips to Scotland and Italy but the men in white are yet to concede a try after two victories. Their first game back at Twickenham since the Rugby World Cup will be key to this England side regaining their confidence and to once again establishing their home ground as a fortress.
Meanwhile, the twice in a row winners of the Championship, Ireland, have had a false start to this year’s competition. After losing a convincing lead at home they were lucky to secure a draw against Wales and then a poor performance in Paris means they are 4th in the table. Now they head to Twickenham, a ground they have not beaten England at since 2010. But if they are to have a shot at the trophy this year, this a must win game for the Ireland players and Coach Joe Schmidt.
England Starting XV: TBA
Ireland Starting XV: TBA