After a spectacular first week the Six Nations games don’t let up with cracking games in Edinburgh, Paris and Dublin, one being talked already as a Championship decider, and another billed as a Wooden Spoon fight. We take a quick recap on last week, see who has raised their Lions stock, and take a look forward to this week to see who will stand tall when the final whistles are blown.
Quite simply one of the best opening Six Nations weekend I have ever seen, drama and top notch rugby. The Northern Hemisphere seem to be catching up with the Tri Nations teams with running rugby and tries galore. The Italians are no longer a pushover, and the Irish have their talisman back!
Out of my Ones to watch / Lions contenders no one did themselves any disservice last week. Tim Visser, Alex Cuthbert and Billy Twelvetrees all got on the scoresheet as well as Brian O’Driscoll who staked his claim for the Lions captaincy with his inspired performance against the Welsh leading from the front. Owen Farrell also looks to be pushing Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton for the 10 shirt after his solid performance all game and Sextons under par second half.
Onto this weekend
Scotland vs Italy -Murrayfield Kick off Saturday 9th Feb 14:30 live on the BBC
The potential Wooden Spoon decider as usual? Not so after the Azzuri gave the French a proper shock and Sergio Parisse’s men looked a class outfit. A few seasons ago they would have lost all focus and composure in the final quarter and would let sides back into the game. Last week they performed for 80 minutes, and closed out a game they never looked like relinquishing. Luciano Orquera’s performance will please the Italians as he gave them a solid platform.
Scotland however never looked to be in the game against England, their back three caused a few problems, but they never had parity in the forwards, and they hardly got over the gain line. If Italy can keep their form through to this week, there should only be one winner, however the Murrayfield crowd should lift the Jocks to be on a level page. A tough one to call.
Prediction – Italy by 4
France vs Wales – Stade de France kick off Saturday 9th Feb 17:00 live on the BBC
Wales will be smarting following their defeat to the Irish last week; however they will be moderately pleased with their second half performance where they nearly got back in contention. With Sam Warburton ruled out with injury Ryan Jones leads the Welsh with Justin Tipuric getting his chance at openside.
France will also be looking to make amends following their shock defeat to the Italians, Thierry Dusatoir is restored as captain, and Mathieu Bastareaud gets his first start of the Campaign in place of Florian Fritz.
I can see a high octane game with lots of tries, but I expect the French to get back in the saddle and inflict more pain on Wales’ interim boss Rob Howley.
Prediction – France by 6
Ireland vs England – Aviva Stadium kick off Sunday 10th Feb 15:00 live on the BBC
The big one! Both sides had convincing wins last weekend and both are hoping to put the other to the sword in Dublin. However Ireland’s poor second half performance against the Welsh shows a slight chink in their armour, England showed that they are vulnerable on the counter attack and need to have more organisation in this area to start to become a side that doesn’t concede many points.
Manu Tuilagi, who missed last week through injury is back in contention but finds himself on the bench after the stellar performance of man to watch – Billy Twelvetrees, the big Gloucester man’s yardage gained was second to none. Brad Barritt also had a top game and the Samoan Wrecking ball will have to make an impression to get his starting spot back.
For the Irish, Simon Zebo had a solid debut, with his sublime footballing skill leading to Cian Healy’s try showed his class. Brian O’Driscoll showed why he should be on the Lions tour and makes this so close to call; whoever gets go-forward in the forwards will win the game. An interesting battle will be between Rory Best and Tom Youngs, in my opinion the two in competition for the starting Lions shirt, the experienced and dependable Irishman against the Dynamic young pretender. My money is on Youngs to come out on top, but you can never discount Experience.
The English to win a tight game in Dublin.
Prediction – England by 2
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