Another round of tight enthralling rugby if not free flowing with dynamic running. Here is my roundup of the weekend’s action.
How did the predictions go?
First here is a link to my predictions.
2 out of 3, I didn’t foresee Italy’s resurgence.
Scotland 19 v 22 Italy
Scotland came roaring out of the traps and through an intercept try and penalty were 10 points up within 8 minutes. Italy fought their way back into it by getting a try from a rolling maul. Penalties were then the order of the day for the rest of the half first allowing Scotland to stretch their lead to 16-8. Then a penalty kick at goal didn’t have the length and was allowed to bounce, the Italians were first there to score a try and go into the break just 16-15 down.
The second half was a tussle and it wasn’t until the 66th minute that we saw a score which was Scotland knocking over a penalty. Then we had the drama, with Italy pushing for a late try to win the game, Scotland got a penalty. However Scotland missed touch allowing Italy to come back at them and then collected a yellow card for pulling down the maul. With a 2nd row off the pitch the Italian scrum was too strong and Italy earned a penalty try to win the game.
Key Stat: Yellow/red cards Scotland 2/0 Italy 0/0
Scotland were also on the wrong end of the penalty count and that lack of discipline hurt them in the end. There has been talk that it Italy had made their kicks it would have been an easier win. But if you take into account that one of their converted tries came from a missed penalty then it evens its self out.
That’s two games in a row now where Scotland have shown a lack of execution/decision making at the end of a game.
France 13 v 20 Wales
Wales had the better of the fight half in this battle of the power games. But they only managed 2 penalties to 3-6 at half time.
In the second half the French spread the ball more but after a penalty each Wales were the first to score a try through some vision from Webb and a lovely offload. Another Halfpenny penalty stretched the lead before a converted try from France got them back within 4 points. That’s as close as they got as another Halfpenny penalty seemed the match.
Key Stat: Kick at goal success France 50.0% Wales 83.0%
Poor kicking from France allowed Wales to control the scoreboard and play how they wanted. France had to chase the game but the Welsh defence was strong enough to keep them out.
Ireland 19 v 9 England
This was a great lesson in building a win, Ireland dominated the first half with their better game management/kicking and ferocity at the breakdown. England disciple didn’t help them but this wasn’t decided by the referee. For all their dominance Ireland only got 3 penalties in the first half and England did manage a drop goal in reply to make it 9-3 at half time.
Early in the second half Ireland were able to get 10 points through a penalty and converted try which effectively put them out of sight. England kept pressing and did manage 2 penalties but their inexperience showed in the backs and the forwards lost the battle at the breakdown.
Key Stat: Turnovers conceded Ireland 9 England 23
There is a lot of talk about the kicking and Ireland’s was much better but if you give the ball away that much you are asking for trouble. A couple of interesting things, first a stat I saw from Reddit said that Ireland reclaimed 6 of their kicks whilst England got none. For a side that kicks a lot Ireland had a lot of possession, this is because it’s the half backs not back three that are kicking. So it’s always kicking from strength not in response and if you kick to Ireland they keep the ball until they want to kick.