At last we saw some good rugby in the 6 Nations and we still had a fiesta of other games to watch! Here’s my round-up of last weekend’s rugby.
Ireland 58 – 15 Italy
England 25 – 21 Wales
Scotland 29 – 18 France
2 from 3, I didn’t have faith in Scotland.
England took the title with a win that looked comfortable for the first 60 minutes. Wales came back in the last 10 minutes especially to almost upset the party. There has been plenty of controversy since the game with citings for both Frances (8 weeks ban for contact with the eyes) and Marler (no ban for forearm hit or racist comments).
Ireland racked up an expected victory with a larger margin than expected using an offloading game that we haven’t seen from them recently. This led to more questions about Italy being in the 6 Nations and if there should be promotion and relegation.
Scotland put away a poor French side. This will do their confidence the world of good as I heard that, for 12 of the side the Italian win was their first ever 6 Nations victory. France are playing very expansive but with far too many errors (giving up 11 scrums for example). If the passes/offloads stick then they could be very dangerous all of a sudden.
Harlequins 35 – 28 Bath
Wasps 36 – 24 Leicester Tigers
Northampton Saints 26 – 11 Sale Sharks
Worcester Warriors 28 – 20 Gloucester Rugby
Exeter Chiefs 32 – 17 Newcastle Falcons
London Irish 16 – 26 Saracens
5 from 6, I think that’s a good results as not many predicted Warriors to pick up another win.
Worcester’s win looks to have made them safe with Irish being 13 points back which is how many points they have gained so far this season. Falcons are 8 points ahead of Irish and will be looking for the handful of points that will make them safe.
At the other end of the table a win for Chiefs will make them more comfortable in the playoff positions. Below that it’s looking tight all the way down to 8th considering that Sharks have a game in hand. Having said that Wasps form makes them favourite to join Saracens and Chiefs in the playoffs and it’s really the fourth place that’s looking up for grabs.
Blues 19 – 23 Hurricanes
Force 14 – 31 Brumbies
Highlanders 34 – 15 Lions
Rebels 25 – 23 Reds
Sunwolves 31 – 32 Cheetahs
Kings 24 – 58 Chiefs
Stormers 13 – 18 Sharks
4 from 7, I made a couple of brave calls and they didn’t come off.
The Blues have looked much better this season and West leaving his kicking boots in the locker room lost this one. The Canes will be happy to pick up a win but will need to perform much batter to make it back to back finals. It’s going to be a long season for the Force as the Brumbies reinforced their favourite credentials. Their trip to South Africa this weekend will be their first real test though. The Rebels saw of a limited Reds and you have to wonder where the Reds first wins going to come from. The Sunwolves missed a great opportunity for their first ever franchise win, it’s not going to come easier than against the Cheetahs. The Kings got thumped again and we’ll be seeing more large losses there. Finally the Sharks got lucky against the Stormers when what looked like an accidental boot causing the ball to come out of a players hand, led to a yellow card and penalty try.
Unfortunately I had a poor week compared to the algorithm.
Toulouse 13 – 13 Bordeaux Begles
Stade Francais 16 – 34 Racing Metro 92
Clermont Auvergne 25 – 6 Brive
La Rochelle 35 – 16 Section Paloise
Castres 50 – 6 Agen
Toulon 38 – 8 Grenoble
US Oyonnax 10 – 31 Montpellier
The only upset of the round was the draw between Toulouse and Bordeaux. So very much steady as she goes with Toulouse slipping further off the pace after challenging at the top. Racing, Clermont and Toulon are only separated by 2 points at the top of the table. At the other end it’s looking glum for Oyonnax and Agen.
New Zealand played an unusually physical game of 7s to beat South Africa in the final for their third title the season. The Olympics is looking increasingly between the three sides that have won titles in Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa. The sides most likely to cause an upset are Australia and the USA. The next stop is Hong Kong on the 8-10th of April.