Wow what a day of rugby that was! A scoring fest as the sides knew that it was all going to come down to points difference. Here is my review of the 5th and final round of games from the 6 Nations.
How did the predictions go?
First here is a link to my predictions.
3 out of 3, so spot on but as I said in my predictions it was about margins not the results in this round. In the end my led to the same result but all the games had double the margins I was expecting.
Italy 20 v 61 Wales
First off Wales really set the tone for the day and by getting a good winning margin to apply pressure to both Ireland and England. But it didn’t look like that for the first half of the game. Sloppy play from Wales allowed Italy to score first with a penalty and after swapping penalties it was 6-6. A clever Halfpenny kick through was collected by Roberts for the opening try. Soon afterwards through Italy went through the phases and nipped through a gap to score their opening try and take a 2 point lead. It looked to stay that way until a Welsh penalty on the halftime whistle gave them a narrow 1 point lead.
In the second half Wales upped the tempo and with a plethora of tries there is no point cataloging all of them. 2 quick tries gave Wales a 15 point lead after ten minutes and then Italy unravelled. A yellow card reduced Italy to 14 men and that along with some poor tackling saw Wales take full advantage. North clocked up two tries to complete his hat trick. Just as soon as Italy were back to 15 men they lost another to the bin, this time Wales racked up 19 points! Italy did manage a late length of the field try at the end.
Key Stat: Yellow/red cards Italy 2/0 Wales 0/0
The game was already lost but Wales scored 33 points when Italy were down to 14 men and that really setup the day.
Scotland 10 v 40 Ireland
Ireland were in control of this game from the start and it was only a question of if they would be able to score enough points to win the championship. Ireland go toff to a good start which meant there was no pressure to spread the ball wide and change their game plan. An early try from O’Connell powering through helped Ireland to an early 0-10 lead. Another try by the forwards stretched the lead to 14 points. A cleaver piece of work allowed Russell to get over the line for Scotland but they still trailed 10-20 at halftime.
In the second half Ireland just camped in Scotland territory and a nice pass inside to Payne allowed him to crash over. That meant that Ireland were going at a point a minute for the first 10 but that couldn’t be kept up. It was another ten minutes before Sexton knocked over another 3 points and the 3 penalties missed lucky didn’t come back to haunt Ireland. Ten minutes from time O’Brien scored the third forwards try for Ireland and it was just a matter of sitting back and seeing how many points England could win by.
Key Stat: Kicks from hand Scotland 15 Ireland 27
Ireland’s accuracy was back after an off-day against the Welsh which allowed them to play the way they wanted to.
4 off loads for Ireland is the least of any team in the 6 Nations this weekend and is symbolic that they are approaching the game differently to other teams. The offload is super quick ball and doesn’t let the opposition defence adjust. It does come with greater risk of knock-ons and interceptions so Ireland have decided not to use them and go for quick rucks instead. Ireland are winning games through low error and super defence rugby which might not win them any excitement awards but is highly effective when done well.
England 55 v 35 France
England started the perfectly with turnover ball leading to the first try of the game. This was to become a trend as France replied with two turnover tries of their own to lead 7-15 with a quarter of the game gone. England though were to own all the scoring in the second 20 minutes. England halfbacks were having a great game, especially Youngs who made the break for England’s second try before scoring the third himself. That bust of points meant England went into the break 27-15 up.
An early try each in the second half was a sign of things to come as both sides racked up the points in the second half. England had got themselves another try with a good sidestep from Nowell when Haskell got yellow carded for a silly trip. England survived this period ok as they managed a converted try to two unconverted tries by the French. There was still time for England to score another try for a record win over France but it wasn’t enough to win the 6 Nations.
Team PD Pts
Ireland +63 8
England +57 8
Wales +53 8
France +2 4
Italy -120 2
Scotland -55 0
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