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Six Nations Weekend 3


An Tarbh

Week 3 Review

So as the Third Weekend of the Six Nations was almost upon us I had yet to hear whether I’d gotten a ticket for the Ireland Wales game on the Sunday. Sitting in the freezing cold Beauvais Airport the message I was waiting for comes in, Rob you’ve got a ticket for Sunday, great stuff all we need now is to take off but no sign of the plane yet, not to worry though I’ll get there eventually and I did, slept a good bit on Friday ahead of the upcoming weekend, a stag do and an Ireland match to boot.

So onto the rugby and what we saw in the first half in Paris almost had us believing that the shock of the tournament was on, the French were as poor as they had been in their 2 previous games and the Italians kicking game caused the French all sorts of problems, with the garryowen proving quite the successful tactic for Ramiro Pez, but despite all their limited success in the opening 40 they only led by a point, so half time and a good chance for a feed before heading out for the evening. Into the second half and Thomas Castaigneide comes alive, some searing breaks running some great lines and he did enough to put Nyanga away in the corner and from then on in the French were in control, yes the defence was still there from the Italians but without the attacking ability or the ball for that matter it was turning into a long afternoon for the Azzuri as the French just kept turning the screw as they ran in 4 tries in a much improved second half performance, even the hapless Michalak managed to make himself look good with a try at the death. So that was the first match out of the way and on into town to watch the second game at Murrayfield.

As well as the Stag do and the Ireland match there was also the Love Ulster parade due to take place in Dublin on the Saturday, with a Loyalist march due to take place in Dublin for the first time since before partition, tensions were obviously high with some scumbags as they saw fit to start riots, so we’re on our way into town with the calls coming in, don’t be heading near O’Connell street the f***ers are rioting and it’s spreading, well it wouldn’t have been anywhere near us, we’d be grand, sure we thought then the pubs would be empty with these gobshites terrorising the city. Oh well wrong on that count, not an inch in the pub, but we found somewhere in the back and settled down with the pint, such a treat to have a real pint as well, for the Calcutta cup. Predictions flying all over the place, England by 20, England by 25, sure the Scots might make a match of it and fall away, one poor f***er was laughed at for suggesting that it could be a tight affair and of course what made things better was the ramblings of a drunken Scot over for the weekend to watch the match, stranger things have happened 4 Welsh fans got an apartment in Benedorm for the Ireland game.

Scotland had a decent start and their defence looked solid, not many missed tackles, huge commitment and England knew they were in for a match here, they certainly had the Scots under pressure and but for a Ben Cohen knock on they should have been in for the opening try, Grewcock foolishly got sinbinned for taking out his opposite number, red mist must have descended yet again for the Bath second rower. Worryingly enough for the Scots though their lineout wasn’t functioning with England stealing their fair share of opposition ball on the throw in and denying the Scots a greater platform. What really saw the Scots through in the end though was their defence, they made 94% of their tackles, a phenomenal number, considering they had to make 112 tackles throughout, having a solid kicker in Patterson to slot the goals certainly helped and even the normally clueless Dan Parks chipped in with a second half drop goal and but for an awesome ankle tap by Sean Lamont on Josh Lewsey England could well have left Murrayfield with their grand slam hopes intact. Credit though to Scotland for finishing the stronger with a final Patterson penalty putting a final nail in Andy Robinson’s coffin. The atmosphere in the pub was incredible, like any England defeat it’s always as good as an Ireland win plus the many Welsh in the crowd had a similar viewpoint as well, felt sorry for the 2 English fans standing in front of us as they kept their heads down and it was only when seeing the clenched fists for the England scores that we knew their real identity, now lads we mightn’t be your teams best fans but we could have had a bit more banter as well if ye we a bit more vocal. With the pints flowing and mobility becoming a slight problem we ended up leaving the pub and heading on elsewhere, apparently, last thing I remember was being in the taxi on the way home and clattering my head off the door as we got back to the house, I’d pay for this in the morning that was for sure.

And I did, woke up with a head on me alright, was freezing cold as well which didn’t help. Breakfast just about stayed down, I’d not done too badly though as I was told I didn’t throw up or make an arse of meself which tends to happen when that drunk but thoughts turned to the match, sorting out the tickets and where everyone would go, ended up in Paddy Cullens for a few pre match pints and a good bit of banter with the Welsh, some appreciating the welcome from the rioters, saying they felt right at home this weekend, they were ******** a brick about the match though especially after their last 2 visits and getting a hiding both times, thought he was a jinx on the team, good thing he was here and all.

Pre match banter was good enough, never an over the top build-up in Lansdowne but then they bring that twat Brian Kennedy on to sing the anthems with some Welsh bird who looked worse for wear as well. But **** sake lads if you’re going to sing the national anthem the least you should do is know the poxy words, caught a glimpse on the big screen and the prick was reading the words. One thing though surprised me was the number of Welsh in the crowd, didn’t seem as much as the last 3 games, Christ 2 years ago it almost felt like a home game for the Welsh when they sang their anthem not so this time.

Wales started well and had us in trouble from the off, Watkins chip through for Mark Jones giving them the perfect start, lucky for us Jones missed the kick, Wales were looking comfortable despite Ireland cutting the gap with a penalty but losing Jones was a killer blow and Ireland started to take control despite struggling at scrum time where the Irish front row were in all sorts of trouble, but the maul started to look well and Ireland were varying their play a lot better than they had in Paris with us actually kicking a bit more, and the forwards got their reward with Wallace eventually getting through after Leamy was denied by the video ref. Kaplan certainly didn’t impress, spoiled the game with his constant whistle blowing and for a ref of his standard not to understand the advantage rule was appalling, fine to come back after some play for a penalty but he was allowing the exact amount of advantage for a knock on, if you kick away possession from a knock on advantage, advantage is over, not so for Kaplan yesterday. Anyway lucky for the teams his ineptitude didn’t influence the result as the Welsh looked awful once Henson came on, the wolf whistles and jeers were all in good jest, sure he’d been going along with it all himself before the match so it was a good bit of craic. He did look very rusty in fairness, sliced a fair few kicks and missed some crucial tackles none more so than that on Trimble which allowed him to make a great break and wake Ireland up after the opening 20.

It’s a shame the half time entertainment was as brutal as usual yet again. Once more the old women’s favourite Brian Kennedy emerged to sing the Fields of Athenry, the jeers from the crowd were great, as soon as he started I just roared, you’re murdering it you *******, others joined in, Christ he got some grief, there were calls from the crowd to the Tag Rugby Bunny to clatter him with his sign but no joy. There is one good thing though, Kennedy will be representing Ireland at the Eurovision in May so that’s one sure fire way to end your career, so at least that’s something.

Second half then and Ireland took control, Welsh defence was non existent as Horgan strolled through for Ireland’s second try, and O’Gara kept the score ticking over with a few penalties but for his misses we should have been in the forties easily. Wales didn’t threaten our line once in the second half they really were so poor, they were lacking key players especially the likes of Thomas, Shanklin, Cobain and Jones, all quality ball carriers which was something they lacked yesterday. To my shock though even Peter Stringer managed a decent game and his break really took the crowd by surprise, he needs to do more of that to keep his place as Reddan and Boss come more into the frame. The only downside was the injury to Marcus Horan, Jenkins did nothing wrong and took unnecessary grief from some ***** in the crowd, but the reports were not too bad for Horan, at least it’s not career threatening which is always the worry with a neck problem. Stringer put a better gloss on the finish with a try and O’Gara’s conversion took us past 30 points.

It all sets up a great finish to the championship with the four contenders going head to head on the penultimate weekend as Ireland entertain the Scots and England travel to Paris for Le Crunch. It’s been a cracking tournament with a mouth-watering weekend in prospect in 2 weeks.

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