ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: A rocky start for England – Six Nations Round-Up and Week 2 Preview
Six Nations Week 1 Roundup
The 2017 Six Nations tournament started off with a bang this past weekend. Scotland started proceedings with a surprising upset against one of the tournament favourites, Ireland. The Scots started off strong, scoring three tries in the first half, two from MOTM Stuart Hogg. Ireland came back in the second half with their own trio of tries to go ahead for the first time in the match, but only by a single point. In the end though, poor discipline led to Ireland’s downfall, with two penalties by Greig Laidlaw in the last ten minutes sealing the win for Scotland 27-22.
England got off to rocky start at Twickenham with France outplaying them for the majority of the game. Scott Spedding and Louis Picamoles wreaked havoc on the English defence early on, but desperate defending and the boot of Owen Farrell kept them within touching distance of the French. However, it was the substitutions of coach Eddie Jones that really made the difference; Ben Teo’o, Danny Care and James Haskell re-energised the side to put them on the front foot and a try from Teo’o edged victory for the reigning champions 19-16. This victory extends their winning streak to 15 in a row, surpassing World Cup winning coach Sir Clive Woodward’s previous record.
Although Italy got off to a good start against the Welsh, the firepower that Wales had at their disposal ended up being too much for the Azzurri. As usual, Italian talisman Sergio Parisse led by example, taking the fight to the visitors early on and rock solid defending resulted in Wales only getting three points late in the first half. However, after the break Wales hit back hard with 30 unanswered points, including three tries, to end the game 33-7.
There were no bonus points given for four tries this week, although Scotland, Ireland and Wales all came tantalisingly close with three tries each. Bonus points were however awarded to Ireland and France for losing within one point to their respective opposition.
Week 2 Preview
Italy vs Ireland
Italy will be looking to capitalise on Ireland’s loss and to provide the men in green with back to back upsets, but will need work on their concentration in the latter stages of the game to do so. Ireland on other hand will want to put that unexpected loss behind them and reassert themselves as championship favourites by aiming for that vital bonus point.
Wales vs England
This should be an interesting game, with Jones looking for a more reassuring performance and changes to the starting XV may provide that, especially considering the impact that the bench had late in the game. Wales will be encouraged by their strong second half performance, but the injuries to Dan Biggar and George North will force them to test their reserves against the reigning Grand Slam Champions.
France vs Scotland
Scotland will be looking to build on the momentum that they currently have and another win would cement their status as serious title contenders. However, France away will provide a good insight as to how this young Scottish side copes with pressure in away games and a rejuvenated French side, that deserved to win against England, should provide a formidable challenge.
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