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Six Nations Weekend 1


An Tarbh

Week 1 Review

Obviously the highlight of the opening weekend of the RBS Six Nations came in the final game of the series on Sunday at Murrayfield. In Frank Hadden’s maiden 6 Nations match the French were foiled as the Scottish forwards laid the groundwork for a memorable victory. The Scots took the momentum from the off and should have scored after 5 minutes but for some poor distribution they would have. However all was rectified 5 minutes later as after an incisive break by Jason White deep into the French 22, the forwards set it up and Blair’s pass found Sean Lamont who cut inside pass the hapless tackle from Michalak to put the Scots 7 ahead. Leading by 10 points at half time the French did improve markedly in the second period but it was the Scots who continued to put the scores on the board, an incredible driving maul from the 22 saw forwards and backs join in and eventually Sean Lamont was at the bottom of it to pick up his second try of the match. Inevitably the French did come back into the match with tries from Bruno and Bonnaire but it was all in vain as Scotland managed to keep the French out of their half and seal their first victory over the French since they won their last championship in Paris back in 1999. It’s clear from the Scottish players that they are enjoying their rugby, the shackles have been released in the wake of Matt Williams departure and Hadden’s far more encouraging approach and motivational abilities with his team. The question now becomes one of consistency for the Scots, can they rise to the same level when they take on the defending champions in Cardiff on Sunday?

The opening match of the championship turned out to be a bit of a damp squib for those expecting free flowing running rugby from the Irish team against Italy. In Berbizier’s maiden match also the Italians equipped themselves superbly against a miserable looking Irish outfit. In contrast to their Scottish counterparts, ‘happy’ doesn’t seem to be the applicable adjective for this Irish squad. The gameplan was erratic, too many times the wrong options were taken and but for some dubious refereeing decisions the match could have gone the way of the Italians. Certainly there can be no doubts over Flannery’s try despite Berbizier’s protestations whereas Tommy Bowe can consider himself highly fortunate to have been awarded his try despite his claims that he did ground the ball. In fact it was the Italians who provided the best bit of back play when Pez made a searing break to set up Bergamasco for the Italian’s only try of the game. Whether this will prove to be a false dawn for the Italians remains to be seen, will the pattern of strong opening day performances continue to be their trademark or will they be able to consolidate against a rejuvenated England side when they visit the Stadio Flaminio this Saturday. As for the Irish they face the daunting task of a trip to Paris where 2 recent drubbings won’t fill them with confidence and the possibility of a French backlash in the wake of their defeat to the Scots will only make matters worse.

As for the clash of the weekend at Twickenham, it didn’t exactly turn out to be the thriller that was expected. With injuries and suspensions affecting them the Welsh were still able to field a team more than capable of pulling off their first win at Twickenham since 1988. However it was the world champions who were faster out of the blocks with Mark Cueto the first to cross the whitewash. Wales were quick to respond to the second English try as a Dwayne Peel break and offload to Martyn Williams saw England only leading by 5 points at the break. However the second half was a far more one-sided affair, with England adding 4 more tries. The sin binning of Martyn Williams for a cynical professional foul may have sealed the fate of the defending champions but this was always a match that England never looked like losing. They showed far more cohesion in their back play than during the Autumn internationals but still have massive work to do should they wish to defend their world cup crown in France next year. As for Wales they will need to regroup and put in a far improved performance against a rejuvenated Scots team on Sunday, with a 34 points deficit it’s hard to see them challenging for the ***le but if they can win their remaining matches, not inconceivable given the poor showings by Ireland and France and the home advantage that they’ll enjoy against Scotland and Italy. Interesting days lie ahead in this championship which has been thrown wide open by the Scottish victory over the pre-tournament favourites. Can we hope to see a similar upset when the second round gets underway this Saturday?
Great suff, putting the whole weekend into perspective.

Wow, what would this world be without rugby...