One of the few blessings of late winter is the return of the Six Nations. And the opening weekend of rugby was an excellent reminder why this can be our favourite time of the year. The three matches all offered something different, with massively varying amounts of pain and pride for the fans. Re-live or catch-up on Round 1 below.
Remember, there’s only been one round and it’s anyone’s tournament. There’s still time to create a Sweepstakes with your friends and family.
Wales 34 v Scotland 7
Coming off the back of a confident Autumn International series, there were high hopes for Gregor Townsend’s first crack at the Six Nations with Scotland. And while Scotland fans should not abandon hope, Wales dominated the visitors in Round 1, and 14-0 in the first 15 minutes.
In what was being predicted by many to be the first time Scotland might even have the edge away against Wales in years, the match went from bad to worse for Scotland. A gap in the fantastic Welsh defence let Horne through for a try at the end of the game will be of little solace to the boys in blue. Wales on the other hand now have an incredible start to their campaign and a bonus point to at the top of the table with England.
Stand Out Players:
Leigh Halfpenny: A performance that reminded us all of just how great a player Halfpenny is. Not only nabbing his first tries for Wales in five years but kicking with an assured foot.
Peter Horne: A stand-out player simply for letting Scotland fans avoid having to go home with nothing on the scoreboard.
France 13 v Ireland 15
The closest and most nervewracking game of the weekend took place in Paris as Ireland and France battled it out to the last play of the game. Ireland took an early lead with Sexton’s boot capitalising on French errors. But the home side stayed within touching distance of Ireland and in the final 10 minutes took the lead for the first time in the game. Teddy Thomas, ran from over 60m out to score the only try of the game and one of the best of the weekend to put France ahead after conversion by 13-12.
But it wasn’t to be for France. In the last play of the game and after a massive amount of phases, Ireland took their chance. Sexton’s drop goal from nearly halfway secured Ireland a hard-fought victory.
Stand Out Players:
Teddy Thomas: One of the best tries of the weekend lit up the pitch in what had been a tight and edgy game. France will be no pushovers in this tournament.
Jonathan Sexton: While he did miss a kick, you can forgive anyone 3 points when they win the game for you like this. Surely one of the best moments of the tournament that could prove crucial if Ireland can go all the way.
Italy 15 v England 46
One of the most assured fixture results, Italy have never beaten the current Champions of the Six Nations. Last year, Italy caused major problems for England with unusual tactics that left England behind at half-time. Sadly, Italy were unable to cause as much trouble at home for England as Watson quickly put the visitors out of reach with a brace of tries.
And while the match got out of Italy’s hands, this wasn’t a terrible performance for the home team. A couple of good tries and a team working better together than we’ve seen before, O’Shea seems to be having an impact.
Stand Out Players:
Sam Simmonds: One of the best International debuts ever? It must be, Simmonds was all over this game with 23 tackles, most defenders beaten and 2 tries to his name.
Mattia Bellini: It must be a good sign when there are a couple of Italian players that could be the stand out from the game that isn’t Parisse. Bellini not only pushed his way over the line but was fantastic in defence for Italy.