26 March 2015
Penultimate Round Leads to Points-Difference Possibilities
The penultimate round of the 2015 Six Nations has now been and gone, leaving us with a thrilling three way race for the title on the final weekend. Oh how the Six Nations doth follow the dramatic script verily as we progress to the third act…
Wales kept the tournament alive with a galvanising win against the Irish in front of a frenzied Millennium Stadium crowd. The Welsh defence was in impeccable form as they collectively achieved a staggering 250 tackles in the process of defending their line throughout the 80 minutes.
It is said that a picture is worth 1000 words. Well that rings true here as the below picture snapped mid-game depicts Jonathan Davies disposing of Jonny Sexton in an audacious manner with a vicious hand-off, completely encapsulating the impression of the whole game. Wales took Ireland by the proverbial scruff of the neck and nullified their game plan.
The late kick off on Saturday saw England take on Scotland, with the Scots looking to get their first win of this year’s tournament and also their first win at Twickenham since 1983. From the comfort of the Lewis Moody VIP Club I was able to walk the short distance to the stadium to witness an early try from Joseph, who can’t stop scoring at the moment. Scotland then took the lead and were ahead at the break. Just rewards for Vern Cotter’s men after some promising play throughout the Six Nations thus far.
The men in white then had 71% territory in the second half, but only two tries to show for it which makes for disappointing viewing. There are positives to take from an attacking point of view, but the errors, namely the forward passes, will frustrate the English management. The scores left on the field could prove costly with the championship likely to be decided on points difference.
After the heroics in Cardiff and the resurgence of England, Italy v France was somewhat of a damp squib. The score line flattered Les Bleus during the rain-filled match, the highlights coming through tries for lock Yoann Maestri and a bulldozing score from close range for impact sub Bastareaud, who it is fair to say was never going to pass the ball. A game to forget perhaps, but France will be buoyed by the fact mathematically they could still finish a disappointing campaign as winners.
With the final round next weekend, everything is still very much to play for. England, Wales and Ireland are all on 6 points having lost just one game. France, having lost twice already this year and depending on results this weekend are even still in with a shout. Italy and Scotland will be fighting for their lives not to be branded victors of the demeaning ‘Wooden Spoon’.
Irish confidence may be ever so slightly knocked by the defeat to Wales, but they will be looking to bounce back in style against winless Scotland at Murrayfield. England need to be more clinical against France, as they arguably have the toughest match of the final weekend. Wales travel to Italy and will need to put a large score on the Azzuri to be in with a chance of the title.
The timings for the final weekend could not be more theatrical, at least from an English point of view. Wales will host Italy first on Saturday, their fate will then rest in the hands of Ireland who travel to Murrayfield. These two results will then determine the score line by which England will need to win in order to be crowned champions. Not getting too ahead of myself though, England will need to ensure they get the win before looking at the technicalities of points difference.
Always one for a happy ending, I can see Wales winning but not by a large enough margin, Ireland beating Scotland, only for England to step up at 17.00 and bring home a first championship win since 2011. Might just be heart over head though.
Written by Mike Harmon-Tatton, Client Executive