Ireland 15 v France 12
Not the greatest spectacle you’ll ever see - but who cares, a win is a win, as they say. Heavy rain prior to the game and a gusting wind made conditions very difficult. The French forwards dominated most of the first half but they didn’t take advantage of a couple of good try-scoring opportunities and missed a couple of kicks into the wind.
Humphreys was flawless in the first half and Ireland went into the break with a 12-3 lead, mainly on the back of a tremendous defensive performance.
France reduced this to 12-9 within 10 minutes of the second half, thus ensuring that Irish heart rates ran at medically dangerous levels for the final half hour. Once again Gelez missed a couple of crucial kicks (as did Humphreys) but The Irish pack got on top and kept the French at bay for the final 10 minutes with O’Kelly stealing a few crucial line-outs from the French. So on move Ireland and the crucial difference was the experience of out-halves.
Andre Watson (the referee) – does this twat have to take over every game he refs so that he’s the star? A case of return of the ego – keep him in S12 please.
The French – from Grand Slammers to also rans? Where to next? Laporte left the game fuming, muttering this team will win nothing. So expect chances galore 6 months from the RWC.
The Irish – can they push on from this and keep the momentum going into the Welsh and English games? They were very nervous throughout the game and will need to eradicate this if they are to continue with their run.
Scotland 30 v Wales 22
The tale of this match is that both sides changed key personnel again. Townsend was the Scots 3rd different fly-half (1st Five for you antipodeans!) in 3 games. Not to be outdone the Welsh have had 3 different fly-halves, hookers and captains – is this some sort of record? With such changes it is difficult to get any sort of consistency in your game and this showed as Scotland raced out to a 19-3 lead after half an hour and controlled the game from there on.
The Welsh pack again were bossed about by the opposition, and while their backs looks quick, with no decent ball they struggled as well. The scoreline is a little flattering as they scored two tries in injury time to gain some sort of momentum going forward. I bet Steve Hansen is hankering for his days with the red and blacks in Christchurch – it must be a long distant memory.
Wales now face Ireland at home and France away, and seem certain for the wooden spoon.
Scotland face the auld enemy before taking on Italy, which should be an interesting game to see how each team shapes up.
Can it get much worse for the Welsh? The answer is probably "yes".
Will Chainsaw get back in the Scottish side after missing out through injury (his form in the first two games was awful too)?
England 38 v Italy 5
What can you say about this game but “strange”…? It certainly was. England was 5 tries to the good and winning 33-0 after 24 minutes and all sort of records seemed within their reach. Every time they ran at the Italians they tore them apart and looked likely to score. Then it all stopped. Why? Did they look up to admire the score? Compliment each other on all the good work? Drop off their intensity while the Italians upped theirs? Who knows exactly but maybe a combination off all the above.
For the rest of the game the Italians owned the ball, played well but could only break down a very effective English defence once, while England couldn’t do anything right until the final 10 minutes when they scored again.
If you look at the statistics from this game (you’re a very sad individual!), Italy come out on top in all but the scoreboard which is quite unusual in the modern game. The final analysis was 6 tries to 1 and both sides can take positives and negatives from the game.
Lewsy was the English full-back. Will Robinson get back in when he is fit? Lewsy looked more complete and a natural last line of defence for England.
Why did the barnstorming start from the English peter out to a whimper – something for them to worry about?
Despite the scoreline the Italians will look back with some satisfaction on their performance, especially the last hour.
And so to the week ahead - and what does it hold?
It’s another week off this weekend, before the final two back-to-back six nation games.
Well now it’s all gearing up for the final showdown in Lansdowne road against the Poms, providing that Ireland don’t slip up against the Welsh in Cardiff (where Ireland hasn’t lost since 1983).
England should be too strong for the Scots, as should France over Italy. Injuries are now beginning to take their toll on all sides with key figures missing games. This could have a bearing on the final outcome, as there is very little recovery time between such high intensity games.