England – Ireland
England put in an industrious performance to end Irish hopes of a grand slam with 13-10 defeat of Ireland. England’s victory also opens this years competition wide open in what was also Brian O’driscoll’s 139th no scoring threat until an Owen Farrell penalty in the 24 minute.
he second half however provided even more entertainment as both England and Ireland flourished in attack. Ireland were the first to score when Rob Kearney cut through and finished a Brian O’driscoll-esque try. Ireland however were unable to capitalise on their scoring advantage as England defended well and attacked in efficient and physical waves.
Despite the relentless attacks, neither side was able to record any points with the usually effective boots of Sexton and Farrell missing scoring opportunities. England did however manage to reply with a try of there own; Danny Care finished off a Harlequins-inspired move after Chris Robshaw offloaded to a surging Mike Brown who, after drawing the full back, passed to Danny Care. Farrell’s conversion made it 13-10 with 25 minutes left as England, led by Joe Launchbury, Robshaw and Brown defended extremely well as Ireland relied increasingly on their forwards as the backs, led by O’Driscoll, were continuously nullified by England.
England’s pack also proved stubborn with the forwards leading by example in both the scrum and against Ireland’s driving maul as they secured a crucial victory over a very good Ireland side. England’s performance showed great testimony to a team full of confidence and bodes well in the forthcoming weeks, during which they well face Wales for triple crown glory.
Wales – France
The fixture provided the perfect opportunity for the Welsh to redeem themselves after a dismal performance in Ireland. An impressive 27-6 win against France surely did so with George North and Leigh Halfpenny, once again, leading the Welsh attack.
The Welsh pack played well and consistently put the French pack on the back foot with Gethin Jenkins, later awarded man of the match, scrimmaging hard throughout. France showed glimpses of flair with a well-worked Huget try disallowed for a knock on when Pascal Pape tackled Rhys Priestland.
The late stages of the game saw a series of yellow cards with props from both sides sin binned after the referee grew frustrated at the continuous collapsing scrums. Picamoles also saw yellow 9 minutes later as Wales took the opportunity to add another 7 points to the board.
An impressive performance from Wales has put them back into contention. France meanwhile still need to refine their game, flair isn’t everything.
Italy – Scotland
The battle for the wooden spoon proved, unexpectedly, more exciting than usual with Scotland returning as victors through a last minute penalty to end the game 20-21.
Italy had led 13-3 at half time but a growingly confident Scotland side withheld Italy attacks. The Italians maintained the physical advantage at the scrum but Scotland’s surprisingly consistent line out play all-but squashed any Italian threat.
Scotland’s victory ends a run of 8 consecutive defeats and gives them their first points in the competition with Italy currently bottom having played and lost all three games.
Image courtesy of the Telegraph