Six Nations: Round Two Review

Published Categorised as 2020-21, Editorial, England Men, France Men, Ireland Men, Italy Men, Scotland Men, Six Nations, Wales Men

And then there was one!

After just two rounds of competition, only one team now remains unbeaten as the traditional swings and roundabouts of the Guinness Six Nations continues.

France have taken a small step ahead of the rest, their 30-24 victory over Ireland after an enthralling contest in Stade de France, Paris.

It ended Andy Farrell’s unbeaten streak of nine games in spite of outscoring Les Bleus three tries to two.

England are right back in the hunt as they got the job done in Rome with a Marcus Smith inspired 33-0 win over Italy.

Scotland travelled to Cardiff buoyed and confident after beating England at home, but the Welsh had their point to prove and won a tense game 20-17.

It all added up to throwing the race to be champions wide open.

France 30 Ireland 24

Antoine Dupont’s try after just 67 seconds set the tone for an epic classic Six Nations encounter between the two sides tipped for glory on March 19.

Trailing 22 – 7 (Mack Hansen scored a remarkable debut try in the first half) at one stage, Ireland recovered well and tries from Josh Van Der Flier and Jamison Gibson-Park saw them threaten to pull off a stunning comeback success, Joey Carberry’s three conversions making it 22 – 21.

But Andy Farrell’s side took their foot of the French throat and indiscipline was to ultimately prove their downfall as six Melvyn Jaminet penalties, and a second-half try from Cyril Baille, helped Les Bleus take a giant step towards a first title since 2010.

Andy Farrell on the defeat by France

Wales 20 Scotland 17

The Cardiff hoodoo continued for Scotland as they suffered a narrow loss after a pulsating, if scrappy at times, encounter to Wales.

Welsh skipper, Dan Biggar, in his 100th international kicked 15 points as he guided Wayne Pivac’s side to victory and possibly redemption.

Biggar sealed the win with a late drop-goal after opposite number Finn Russell was binned on the 68th-minute for a deliberate knock-on.

Scotland wing Darcy Graham and Wales prop Tomas Francis scored tries while Biggar and Russell kicked penalties as the first half ended 14 – 14.

Russell and Biggar exchanged penalties, but it was Biggar’s drop-goal which clinched the victory.

Italy 0 England 33

England showed the ruthless edge coach Eddie Jones had demanded with a commanding five-try win as expected over Italy in Rome.

It was orchestrated by man of the match Marcus Smith to inflict a 34th successive Championship defeat on the Azzurri.

England had stormed 21-0 ahead by half-time and Smith was at the centre of their best moments.

Italy displayed some creativity and put some good plays together, but it was their inaccuracy which led to them being unable to register a point in defeat.

England coach Eddie Jones said: “It was a good performance. We started the game well, got a bit of a flow, started the second half well, and defended well at the end.

Italy are a tough team and they keep coming. If we were a little bit tidier in some of our work, some of our running lines, our support lines at the breakdown, it could have been a big score.

Italian captain, Michele Lamaro: “Obviously disappointed again. Discipline was a big point for us last week, we had to improve this week and we didn’t really perform in that scenario.

We have to get better in discipline, especially in the first half, we conceded too many penalties. Obviously if you concede them to 30-40 metres each time, it becomes difficult to defend.

Les Bleus remain on course for the Grand Slam, but they have enjoyed home comfort two weeks in a row and how they perform on the road against Scotland and Wales will put their credentials to the test.

England have now climbed into second place on points difference from Ireland, both on six points, Scotland are a further point behind with Wales on four.

If you had not already discounted Italy, it is safe to do so now – but the Irish will need a full five match points when they meet the Azzurri in Dublin on February 26.

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