This weekend sees the third round of the RBS Six Nations, with England hosting unbeaten Ireland at Twickenham, Scotland travelling to Italy’s Stadio Olimpico to attempt to salvage something from a terrible start, while Wales are looking to bounce back from a defeat against Ireland as France, who are also unbeaten thus far, visit the Millennium Stadium.
Wales v France
This fixture should prove to be very interesting; Warren Gatland’s Wales failed to show their true potential in Dublin two weeks ago and will be looking for a drastic improvement coming into this game. One defeat is not enough to see off this Welsh side, and we should see their Six Nation Championship defence steered back on track.
France have started very positively in this tournament, beating England and Italy in Paris so far. However, their team has not showed the necessary ability to be considered world-beaters. Playing their first game away from home in this tournament will be a true test of where they are, but Wales should prove too much for them.
Italy v Scotland
Whichever way you look at it the prospects for Scotland do not look bright in this fixture. In their last seven visits to Italy they have only managed to gain one win and, on the back of a terrible performance against England at Murrayfield two weeks ago, it’s difficult to see where this Scottish side will conjure a win from.
Still, recent fixtures between the two sides have been very close with a points gap rarely more than seven, suggesting this should be a very closely contested game. Having said that, Italy will be the favourites to grab the win as Scotland have only managed to put six points on the board in their last two games.
England v Ireland
Having beaten Scotland and Wales already, Ireland are looking to complete the Triple Crown and, if they manage to beat England at Twickenham on Saturday, will surely be well on their way to being crowned Six Nations champions. Ireland’s backs are probably more dangerous than England’s and if they can win enough of the ball, this may be the defining aspect of the game.
England will be doing anything they can to stop Ireland in their pursuit of the Triple Crown and Six Nations title, setting up a game which looks to be highly entertaining. Twickenham is a historically difficult place to play as an away side and, with England narrowly losing to France and putting on a confident performance against Scotland, the team will be no walkover either. Their backs may not offer as much as Ireland’s but England’s forwards are more than capable of causing Ireland problems.
With Ireland looking to send veteran Brian O’Driscoll out with a bang, however, they may just have enough to derail England’s Six Nations, while setting themselves up to win their second title since its inception in 2000.