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Six Nations Final Weekend


An Tarbh

Super Saturday Review</span></span>[/b]

The final weekend of the Six Nations saw 4 teams still with aspirations of winning the championship but realistically it was only ever really Les Bleues’ to lose. Scotland required a 60 point hiding in the Eternal City but the Italians were certainly in no mood to lie down and capitulate to the Scottish hopes. The game started at a fairly fast pace with both teams wanting to throw the ball around. It was the Italians who started the better and got their just reward with Pez’s delicate chip through finding Mirco Bergamasco who finished beautifully under the posts. The Scottish reply was not to slow coming though as pressure from the rolling maul paid off as Blair, supported superbly by Nathan Hines got the ball out to Paterson who squeezed through the gap. There was some confusion as to whether Pez had scored a drop goal but it looked like it straightened just as it had gone behind. While a frenetic first half came to a close with Gordon Ross dropping a goal to give the visitors a 3 point half time lead. Pez levelled the scores though mid way through a less eventful second half as the Scots infringed at the scrum. Holes were appearing in the Italian defence and the Scots took advantage but just didn’t make it count on the scoreboard, however once again superb defensive work from skipper White saw the Scots get a penalty which Paterson duly slotted to give them their first away win since 2002 and their best championship performance since they won the final 5 nations with 3 victories.

The French arrived in Cardiff knowing a win would pretty much secure them the championship but having failed to fire for 80 minutes throughout the championship the same applied again yesterday. Wales started the brighter finding gaps in the French defence and led by the foraging breaks of Mike Phillips were the dominant team in the opening period. The French had some periods of pressure and looked to have caught something off England as they failed to finish off some blatant chances in the opening half. It was Wales though who looked the more comfortable and a cracking break by Shane Williams backed up superbly by Hal Luscombe gave the Welsh their just deserts and a healthy 10 point lead. France did improve in the second period and the substitute Dimitri Szarzewski stepped up to the plate to score off a rolling maul and bring them right back into the match, however the conversion was missed and Gavin Henson’s long range penalty gave the Welsh more than a sniff at their first championship win over the French at the Millennium Stadium. Not to be though as a moment of madness from Rob Sidoli gave the French a lineout in the Welsh 22 and the following play saw the chip through from Michalak and Fritz was on hand to finish it off and pretty much any Welsh hopes of victory. A further penalty from Ellisalde after Martyn Williams infringed at the ruck gave the score a bit of gloss but it was by far their hardest earned victory of the championship and in fairness to them they showed great character in the wake of such a test from the Welsh.

So realistically Ireland were playing for the triple crown and England’s slim championship hopes were gone but that wouldn’t take away from what promised to be an intriguing affair. England started the brighter as Ireland made a hash of the kick-off and Whitehouse wrongly, not for the first time, called a knock on against D’Arcy even though it came off his knee. Ireland had infringed at the ruck and got away with it so swings and roundabouts but from the resulting play Goode’s pass put Noon away for the opening try. Ireland replied quickly though with O’Driscoll’s kick through making an arse of Ben Cohen as he slipped and Horgan, albeit in touch, flicked through and finished well, Robinson again being kicked when he’s down. Ireland dominated the play in the first half and but for a poor pass from O’Driscoll, D’Arcy would have been in for a try but the penalty came nonetheless. Ireland started the second half brightly picking up another 3 points but again infringed from the restart and gifted England another 3 points, sort that out O’Donnovan. England took control but Irish defence was resolute, however Steve Borthwick eventually found a gap and strolled through for a try which Goode converted. Again Whitehouse showed his influence as he called back Cohen for taking a quick throw which was perfectly legal, resulting in Mears overthrowing and Leamy superbly capitalising with a fortunate bounce off Lewis Moody to get the touchdown, again a kick in the teeth for the hapless Robinson. Further penalties and sustained pressure had looked like it had given England the advantage over 14 man Ireland but with 3 minutes remaining O’Gara chipped through, O’Driscoll should have been pinged for being in front of the kicker but his break sent Horgan away up the wing, O’Driscoll set up the ruck and Stringer’s pass saw Horgan stretch for the line and just make it and seal the Triple Crown for the second time in 3 years. A massive slice of fortune for the Irish rubbing salt into the wound of the clueless Robinson who for all his changes never made the one that would have made the difference with one Lawrence Dallaglio remaining on the bench for the whole game. Good though to actually get a trophy for our endeavour, being at Lansdowne 2 years ago was a bit anti climactic as the players did their lap of honour with only a flag but no silver wear.

So the 2006 Six Nations draws to a close, not a vintage version, but gripping and tense finishes a plenty and what a final weekend.

Well written piece.

It was a good Super Saturday - 3 away wins, in close matches. Also, 3 chips that resulted in tries - finally some flair play in the 6N!
was a brillaint weak end

this was the worse quality six nations in a good few years - but was highly gripping and entertaining.
totally agree with you there lora the most open six nations i have seen in my 15 years of life.
One point i'd disagree with. Why would Dallaglio being brought on be the one change that would make the difference.

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