Scotland gained their second win of the tournament on Saturday with a quality performance against Wales.
Although, it was Wales who looked to be on top in the first half as they replied to everything Scotland had to offer; Scotland’s Russell making a kick early on, only to be matched by Wales’ Leigh Halfpenny just after.
Williams turned the score around soon after with a try, which gave Scotland too much to do before half time, as they were only able to cut the gap through two more Russell penalty kicks, making the half time score 13-9.
A Scottish resurgence early in the second half shocked the Welsh side, as Hogg showed some impressive hands to send Visser in for the try; Russell making the conversion.
Russell’s job for the day was not over, as after converting the kick, an obstruction from the Welsh allowed him to add another score to his name; making the final score at Murryfield 29-13 to the Scots.
All round, it was a quality game as Scotland ended their ten year drought against the Welsh. Their second win of the tournament seems to be giving proof of improvement, especially as both wins were against two tough sides. Will they continue their new found ways against England in their next game?
Joe Schmidt’s side got off to a slow start against France, who took full advantage, putting away two penalty kicks early on. They continued to attack the Irish, as they came close to getting their first try of the game, only to be shut down by knock on from Fickou, as he attempted to collect the ball from a Lopez kick up field. Lopez converted the penalty kick to extend the French lead.
This seemed to be the end of the French dominance in Dublin, as Ireland began to respond. Sexton’s chip over the top of a maul allowed Ireland to gain a scrum just before the French try line. Murray snuck over the line to get Ireland the try and Sexton did his kicking duties to put the Irish out in front.
Ireland could have been more clinical in the first half, letting a couple of opportunities go astray as they also failed to get past the French line for a second time.
It was after the break that Ireland got going again, as Sexton got himself another penalty kick and a drop goal to extend their lead to seven.
France began to fight back, but Ireland stayed strong to hold them off, eventually forcing France to give away another penalty. Although, the French showed resilience, eventually lessening the Irish lead through another Lopez penalty. It proved to be the Irish’s day however, as Picamoles gave Jackson the opportunity to get his name on the sheet as he was penalised; Jackson converted the kick to end the game at 19-9.
Ireland now carry on their contention for the Six Nations title as they go on to play Wales next week, but they will still have it all to do against a strong Welsh side. France go on to play an Italy side who are yet to get going in the tournament after 3 poor performances.
Another slow start from England shadowed the first portion of the game, as Italy pushed forward and could have been in front early on, but they tarnished the opportunity as Allan put his kick wide of the sticks. It was the Italians who continued to add pressure however; missing yet another penalty opportunity.
Italy frustrated the English on Sunday by not committing men to the breakdown, allowing them to get within a metre of the scrum half, essentially limiting England’s ability to play the ball. This was a style which was heavily criticised by Eddie Jones after the game, Jones said that; “I don’t think anyone wants to see a game like that…”
As possession switched, England found themselves with a penalty, which was sent for the line out. England made the most of the line out, as Cole went over to touch down for the first try of the day. At 5-0, the game was still open, and it was not until Italy were able to get a drop goal from Allan that they got on the scoreboard.
This seemed to give the Italians a burst of energy however, as Allan went on to hit the post with a penalty, which led to Venditti darting over the line to put the Italians ahead. Allan went on to convert, sending the teams in at the break at 10-5.
Jones must have made an impression at half time, as England seemed to have found a new lease of life, as they soon levelled the score with a Danny Care penalty and quick tap try, Farrell missed the opportunity to put England ahead with the conversion.
England continued on the front foot, as Haskell exploited an opening in the Italian line. After this, Daly was then fed in by tournament hopeful Ben Te’o to sneak in at the corner, Farrell this time made the kick to extend England’s lead to seven.
Italy were not out of it yet, as they kept on going to get their second try of the game. England were thankful to see themselves still in the lead as the Italian missed the conversion. England looked to again make up the lead, as Daly came close to getting himself another try, only to be taken down just before the line. All was not lost from the play, as Nowell was fed in wide and got over the line for England’s fourth try of the game and a bonus point.
England carried on their attack, gaining two more tries before time, this time from Ben Te’o and another from Nowell. Farrell found his aim in the final parts of the game, converting both of England’s last tries, making the final score 36-15, leaving England’s unbeaten run intact.
England play Scotland in their next game, and the Scottish will be looking to get Eddie Jones’ men off their unbeaten run, allowing themselves to get closer to a Six Nations title. Italy go on to play France in their next game as they look to gain their first points of the tournament.