Wales 19 – 10 France
Victory for Wales meant that they have beaten France in five consecutive years which shows their dominance in the six nations. It’s looking likely that this win will set up a title decider in week 4 with England who are currently unbeaten like the Welsh.
Wales led at half-time by 6-3 although their territorial and possession statistics meant that the lead should have been wider at half time. Fortunately for Welsh fans they raced into a thirteen point lead early in the second half with a Dan Biggar penalty and a try from George North which was converted by George North. Although the French were dominating territory and possession as they were camped in the Welsh half, they refused to kick the pints after Wales committed numerous penalties. France spurned numerous chances at the set piece and scrum, although they were winning plenty of ball from these set-pieces the Welsh were resolute in defence holding the French out. After battling for the best part of 15 minutes, Wales won a penalty in the French half which Biggar nailed to make the score 19-3.
France eventually did get a try over their own in the dying minutes which was touched down by Guilhem Guirado, Francois Trinh-Duc converted however it was too little too late for the French who head to Murrayfield on the 13th March against a Scotland side who are playing some of their best rugby for a decade.
England 21 – 10 Ireland
England continued their path to a six nation’s victory and a grand slam under new head coach Eddie Jones with a 21-10 over Ireland at Twickenham. Although the English dominated territory and possession in the first half of the encounter, mistakes meant that the pressure was not backed up by points on the scoreboard. A couple of Owen Farrell penalties meant that England were 6-3 up at half-time after Jonny Sexton slotted his own for Ireland.
After half-time Conor Murray then squirmed over for the Irish with Jonny Sexton converting meaning that the Irish went in front for the first time in the game at 10-6, but Farrell reduced arrears again with another nervous penalty to keep the scoreboard ticking for England. The team in white then showed great character in an error strewn match to wrestle control away from the Irish. The impressive Billy Vunipola was a mammoth in both defence and attack, his direct running opened holes in the Irish defence and the ball was played out to Anthony Watson who went over in the corner. Five minutes later the English struck again, Vunipola drew in the Irish defence with one of his marauding runs, Watson continued taking the ball forwards through the huge gaps that had been created and Farrell sent Mike Brown over in the corner to extend England’s lead.
England came under pressure at the end of the game with Danny Care in the sin-bin, this is something that must be addressed as England played half of the second half with 14 men due to James Haskell’s earlier sin bin. Ireland nearly scored a consolation but for a try-saving tackle from Jack Nowell to stop Robbie Henshaw.
England held out, but still have much work to do to ensure they win the grand-slam. More work will needed to be done further down the line when the southern hemisphere teams come calling.
Italy 20 – 36 Scotland
An impressive kicking performance from Greig Laidlaw, in which he scored 21 points, helped Scotland see off Italy in Rome to earn a first win of their 2016 Six Nations campaign. Despite apparent lapses in concentration for some periods of the game the Scots were largely on top and saw out a satisfying 36-20 win.
The first try came just 10 minutes in when Stuart Hogg managed to flip the ball up to John Barclay as he was being taken down, for the blindside to make it over the line untouched. This set the precedent for the rest of the half with Laidlow converting the kick and Scotland increasing their lead just minutes later – with a try from John Hardie and another Laidlow conversion.
The captain was at it again with a long range penalty conversion and Scotland looked to be racing ahead, but the Italians battled back to shift the momentum their way slightly with the help of a Sergio Parisse try and within minutes Scotland were down to 14 men with Finn Russell penalised. The Italians soon scored again courtesy of a Marco Fuser try and a Haimona conversion and despite another Laidlaw long-range penalty Italy were very much on top for much of Russell’s spell in the sin bin.
However, it was Scotland who had the final say with Hogg involved again, drawing out two defenders before offloading the ball to Seymour for the try as Scotland saw out a much deserved win. They head back to Murrayfield for round 4 to take on France on 13th March, whilst Italy will look to pick themselves up for a very tough encounter at the Aviva Stadium on the 12th.
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