Six Nations Review: Round 2

England 47-17 Italy

As is customary whenever Italy travel to Twickenham, their odds of claiming a win are lowered by the hour. The British press gave them no hope in hell of a first victory in London, but the travelling Azzuri started the better though, as captain Sergio Parisse crossed after only three minutes. The game was slow in starting and saw a lengthy stop in play, as Mike Brown collided with Andrea Masi and was stretchered off. He was later seen standing on the touchline despite early fears. The delay could have been prevented if Brown had read the deft chip better, by allowing the Italians to regain possession but focusing on the tackle with Masi, rather than winning the ball directly from the kick. Billy Twelvetrees was brought on later, reshuffling the English back line. England bounced back and went 15 to 5 at the break through Billy Vunipola and Jonathan Joseph tries. Joseph continued his form following last Friday’s win in Cardiff with a second try, proving his value in international rugby. For Italy, Fijian-born back-row Samuela Vunisa added some emphasis to the Azzuri’s ball carrying. The second half saw England score a further four tries, one through Danny Cipriani, making his first 6 Nations appearance since 2008. England made 530 metres during the 80 minutes, whilst Italy could only manage 285 metres. Kelly Haimona missed 8 points from the tee, and Jacques Brunel should look at Tommaso Allan as a fly-half as they face Scotland in two week’s time. England travel to Dublin in a possible Grand Slam and Championship decider on the Sunday, and their defence will need to be improved to claim a victory.

Man of the Match: Jonathan Joseph

Six_Nations_Championship.svgIreland 18 – 11 France

In a fixture which saw Jonny Sexton return after 12 weeks out and Ireland not having beaten France in Dublin for 5 years, the fixture as a whole did not disappoint as Sexton ruled the roost, despite having Mathieu Bastareaud thrown down his neck throughout the 80 minutes and Ireland came out best. In what was expected to be the tightest fixture weekend, penalty goals were knocked over by Jonny Sexton and Camille Lopez, and the AVIVA Stadium crowd had to wait until the last 10 minutes to see the match’s only try, and also France’s first try of the Championship as Romain Toafifenua crossed in the corner. The second half saw France take control of the ball but could only cross the whitewash once, highlighting the lack of clinical edge under not only Phillipe Saint-Andre but Patrice Lagisquet as the backs coach. Possession was slow arriving in the hands of the Pau-native Lopez and Remi Lamerat outside him is not the most creative centre that Saint-Andre has to his disposition. Pascal Pape’s idiotic knee to Jamie Heaslip has results for both players, 34-year-old Pape will most likely face a ban and Heaslip could be sidelined with lower back injury. Both players could well miss their team’s fixture in Round 3 as Ireland welcome the only other unbeaten team in thsi year’s competition and France welcome Warren Gatland’s Wales to the Stade de France, looking to avenge two year’s worth of defeats. Ireland’s defence is looking harder and more clinical than we’ve seen in the past, as question exist about France and changes will be made, the first and easiest choice is to bring Clermont-Auvrgne scrum-half, Morgan Parra in at scrum-half for Castres’ Rory Kockott, so to create a Clermont 9,10,12 combination.

Man of the Match: Mathieu Bastareaud

Scotland 23-26 Wales

After the final whistle blew on the sunny Edinburgh Sunday afternoon fixture, Sam Warburton realised the magnitude of his side’s slight victory, seeing that no one win Championship with only three victories from five, and it also highlighted the focus and drive within the Welsh camp to win another title, but on the Sunday’s performance, they seemed slow, one-dimensional and as one Irish commentator claimed “stale”. The opening minutes were played in the middle of the park until Leigh Halfpenny slotted over a penalty for Wales, which could, and should have set the wheels in motion for a smooth afternoon for Warren Gatland’s men, but Scotland stole a ball in the breakdown and Lion Staurt Hogg outpaced fomer Osprey Richard Hibbard and current Osprey Rhys Webb to cross over, in what seemed like a shortened in-goal area at Murrayfield. There were doubts about Aaron Jarvis scrummaging ability at test level but he stepped up. Impressive Scottish fly-half was sent to bin on the half-hour mark as he misjudged his attempt to claim a Dan Biggar garryowen and  took the Ospreys fly-half in the air, this set the tone for a feisty final hour. Wales took the lead before the break as Liam Williams received the ball from a 15 metre cross-field pass from Alun-Wyn Jones, and passed the pill onto Rhys Webb, who crossed in the corner.

On the hour mark it looked like the ever-aware and passionate Williams had crossed for his own try, which was awarded by former Saracens player, and now referee Glen Jackson, only to be cancelled out by the TMO, a part of the sport that needs to be looked into, for blocking in the earlier rolling maul. Jonathan Davies, who was later binned for the same offence as Rusesell, showed a glimmer of class through choosing a cute angle before dummying a pass and crossing the line. This clinched the win for the traveling side with over 30,000 Welsh people having traveled to Edinburhg for the weekend. Jon Welsh crossed for Vern Cotter’s side in the final minutes to bring the teams within the score, and had Jim Hamilton not started a scuffle in the melée that followed, Scotland might have had the time to build one last attack. In the end time ran out, Wales unconvincingly scraped the victory and Scotland need to beat Italy in the two weeks time.

Man of the Match: Liam Williams