Italy v Wales
Italy 30 - 22 Wales
Make no mistake this was not a fluke, and Italy thoroughly deserved their victory against a very poor Welsh Team. Their win was paved by total dominance up front and on this showing will give all teams visiting Italy a tough challenge up front, starting with Ireland this weekend. A good half back pairing and lively backs caused the Welsh problems all game. The Welsh backs must be fuming, when they got the ball (all too rarely) they seemed unlikely to do anything with it.
The reality of what he has let himself in for must now be dawning on Steve Hansen, while fellow Kiwi, John Kirwan is the toast of all Italy (well those that follow Rugby in any case!). Wales only came into it in the last 10 minutes when Italy were reduced to 14 men after an attempted decapitation of a Welsh back (who may still be unconscious).
Just how bad can Welsh rugby get?
England v France
England 25 - 17 France
This game was a little bit of a disappointment as ‘big’ games often are, after all the hype. England controlled most of the first half but relied on Jonny’s boot to ensure they went into the half-time break in the lead. The French just kept making the same silly mistakes at the ruck and were pinged every time. The first half of the second half (confused yet??) was dominated by the English with Robinson (a league recruit who’s not Henry Paul!) went over for a well-worked try, which was supplemented by more penalties.
The last 20 minutes were what we expect from the French; aggression up front and flair out back. The fact the had put some of the better players on helped (why Castingade was on bench is baffling) and they ran in 2 tries but couldn’t put the ball over the bar to save their lives and in the end this was the crucial difference (Wilkinson 6/6; Merceron 1/5 and Traille 0/1).
Will France pick a goal-kicker and their best backs next week?
Scotland v Ireland
Scotland 6 - 36 Ireland
Oh happiness is burying an 18-year hoodoo (jinx!) at Murrayfield and in what fashion. As uncle Festa said in the commentary box after: “Well we thrashed the Scots now, didn’t we?” (And who will argue with that, save a few Scots after a night on the whisky!). The scoreline in the end flattered the Irish (36-6. I had to print it, as it looks so good… symmetrical even!) and it wasn’t without a few palpitations. The Scots nearly scored after 20 seconds with a charge-down, blew an overlap (thanks ‘chainsaw’ Laney) in first half injury time, and couldn’t get over the try line in the second half despite having most of the territory and possession (magnificent Irish defence). Ireland soaked it all up and hit them on the break to run out easy winners.
Can Ireland really move on from here? And will Scotland v Wales be the wooden spoon game this year?
And so to the week ahead and what does it hold?
On Saturday Italy play Ireland in the top of the table clash (sounds good doesn’t it) J.
A very tough match judging by the way Italy fronted up last week but if Ireland are to take the next step and challenge England / France, then they need to come away with a win, though they will go there with eyes wide open now.
Wales v England follows that evening in what looks like will be a severe mauling for the boyo’s from the valleys after last week.
On Sunday France take on Scotland in what is likely to be another thrashing as France seek to put last weeks disappointment behind them (picking their best team might help!). Until then….. (oh yeah some 12 super or some such like starts also!).