Sunday, February 7, 2016

Ireland and Wales go toe to toe, while France and England win!

 C.J. Stander ( Picture )

Italy v France got things going in the 2016 6 Nations with a performance from France, that was part poetry, part slapstick. They attacked with gusto and defended with a cheerful laissez faire attitude, trusting the Italians to butcher their opportunities. That was a nailed on opportunity for Italy to claim their first victory over France in Paris, but the ball just wouldn’t bounce right. Italy looked as good as they’ll ever do first game up, and it’ll be interesting to see where France go from here, to polish off the rough the edges or implode.

Scotland v England was a mighty battle, not particularly pretty to watch, but eye wateringly physical. Eddie Jones has England concentrating on their basics again, strong set pieces, and strong defense, playing to their strengths Scotland, despite all the promise of the world cup couldn’t impose themselves on the game, but England wouldn’t let them. Both of these teams have a lot more to offer in this year’s competition. And Scotland are still the undefeated 5 Nations champions, so they have that.

Finally, the best game of the weekend, a draw, but an awesome match all the same. Ireland roared into a 13 point, and then had to come back from 13-16 to get the draw late in the second half. But all things considered, with not a full team to pick from, against a huge, settled Wales team ( my pick for the tournament, so they must be good!), Ireland did a good job. We got nothing less than we expect under Joe Schmidt – total commitment from every player, so it’s hard to single out individual players for credit. But CJ Stander carried his provincial form through with another MOTM, and Zebo and Jack McGrath had great games. Finally, Rory Best captained with aplomb, leading from the front. Our scrum needs a bit of work but that will come. And Wales were superb, tough as teak, coping with key injuries and keeping going.

Saturday, February 6
France 23 - 21    Italy
Scotland 9 - 15    England
Sunday, February 7
Ireland 16 - 16    Wales

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