Week 2 of the Six Nations has already been and gone! Just as fast as we had a pint in our hand at the pub, it was over! But what a weekend we were treated to…England were calculatingly professional in their narrow victory over Wales and the Irish made pretty light work of the Italians. But a victory for Scotland! A game that put the Scots firmly back on track for a successful tournament.
We help break down each match and give our take on the games of week 2 – the good, the bad, and the ugly…
Ireland v Italy
Italy’s promise shown in last week’s match against England was flattened by this worryingly precise Irish side. Although a win could’ve been predicted by anyone, the ruthless manner in which they humbled this Italian side has us, as England supporters, a tad worried. They had a shaky match against France last weekend, clearly frustrated by the bluntness of their attack. Well they sharpened up against the Azzurri that is for sure! However, the Irish have always been fans of notching up convincing wins against the Italians and actually, in comparison to previous years, this win is one amongst many. A job well done, but nothing remarkably different from what we have come to expect from Ireland. They will curse the costly injuries incurred by Furlong (prop) and Henshaw (centre). Henshaw has already been ruled out for the rest of the tournament and Furlong is unlikely to feature. These men are two of their top players and their injuries could prove very costly going into the final stages of the tournament. Ireland however won’t dwell on this victory one bit and they will immediately look to their next opponent, which happens to be Wales in Dublin. A very big game in context of the tournament. Ireland will feel very confident, especially at home, but Wales have a point to prove having been frustrated by the English. It will be a proper test match that one.
England v Wales
Jamie Roberts predicted this match would be like a game of chess and he certainly wasn’t wrong. England scraped a 12-6 victory in a serious arm-wrestle of a match controlled predominantly by the boot. The English trio of Care, Ford and Farrell choked any Welsh possession in the first half with accurate kicks behind the Welsh line. They made it almost impossible for Wales to build any sort of momentum.
Farrell’s unbelievable vision paired with Jonny May’s speed set up the first try and good build up play and quick execution set up the second. England didn’t score a point for the rest of the game which is quite staggering. Some would say Wales were unlucky, but with the amount of possession they had, they should’ve done better and some might argue that it was the inexperience of the Welsh team that meant they struggled finishing off chances. They were there own worst enemy most of the time, knocking on the ball at pivotal moments. Eddie Jones targeting Patchell (Wales’ fly-half) earlier in the week questioning his bottle clearly had got to him. He missed a sitter of a kick and he kept misthrowing passes and confusing the backline. There were moments when the Welsh team that tore up the Scottish defence started to peek through as they made various line breaks when the English defence shut off for a second. But then England re-grouped and put the wall back up again. If you want an example of how to win a rugby match purely using cold-hard tactics executed well, this game is the one. Tough, attritional and painfully close – but a win nonetheless. And that’s all England will care about in the end.
England travel to Scotland in two weeks time and they will be confident they can snatch the win. Wales have to travel to Dublin to face a very strong Irish side. We must admit, we think it will be another tough game for the Welsh and we expect Ireland to take it.
Scotland v France
Scotland had to respond from last week with a performance that showed the direction Scottish Rugby was moving in. While it was far from perfect, they got the job done against a French side that pushed Ireland right to the final second. The Scots at Murrayfield are a completely different team to when they play away from home. It’s evident this side thrive off the home passion and that was the difference between the sides. France took the lead from their outstanding winger Thomas, who looked absolutely deadly, but silly mistakes prevented them from widening the gap and allowed the Scots to kick themselves back into the game. Laidlaw, the ex-captain on the bench for the Wales game, showed what Scotland were missing last week bringing his solid boot and calm test-match composure when the Scots needed it most. It was his experience in the end that proved important, a trait often underestimated in it’s importance during big tournament games.
France will be disappointed as they have been within just a few points against both opponents so far and come away with a loss and they now sit just above Italy. They have a promising side, but inconsistencies within their coaching staff is clearly what is causing them most problems at the moment. They are not a well coached side and they are relying on moments of individual brilliance to notch up the scores, which is not a sustainable method of winning games.
Scotland will be very pleased with this game as it has silenced a lot of doubters in the strength of their forwards. Grant Gilchrist was so destructive, breaking tackles and being a nuisance all over the pitch and Jonny Gray was equally as impressive. They will hope to build on this week; it’s almost a shame their next match is against England. Although most will write them off, Scotland versus England at Murrayfield will stir the hearts of any Scot around the country and knowing the Scots thrive off a passionate affair, HEKKTA believes the game in two weeks is going to be an absolute classic. England will win it we believe, but it will be very close indeed. A game you really won’t want to miss.