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Six Nations 2014 – Irish Win Sets Up Twickenham Thriller

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I’ve written this article before. Last year Ireland emphatically beat Wales to set up what everyone, myself included, called a title decider against England. And of course it went all kinds of wrong from that day on. But this is different, notably in the fact that Ireland had this game put away after thirty minutes, and already the nation was looking towards Twickenham.

13 nil is by no means a standard match winning score in a Six Nations fixture, but by the thirtieth minute Ireland had stolen three line outs, turned over at least three rucks, crossed the gain line at least four times in attack and smashed Wales back two metres in defence at least twice. Chris Henry’s try coming off the now regimental Irish maul just sent the dagger home and though Wales were still in it from a points perspective, there was little could be done to salvage the game.

Ireland are not the finished article, not by a long shot. Yes we’ve now seen consistency, but only over two games both at home. If next week isn’t the championship decider then it certainly is a Joe Schmidt decider, the first of three testimonials that will determine his success in his freshman year with Ireland. Yet even with Ireland having room to improve, there’s much to be impressed by so far. Breakdown work from the like of Peter O’Mahony that we haven’t seen since Eden Park in 2011, that Ireland were still hunting a try after 80, that in two games Ireland have kept the attack out of the blocks in the second half. All of these are the small milestones we wanted to see Schmidt bring into the team, and they’re there. That they can still build on them could be some thing really special. Altogether now, they have a chance of a Grand Sl…….
Ireland 26 – 3 Wales

Things were anything but rosey for the Scots straight after the stormer in the Aviva, except that their vision was full of them as the Chariot steamrolled them in what is always the tournament’s most dour affair. We can thank our lucky stars Ireland won’t play in that Murrayfield pitch ever again as in its current state it’s an injury risk above all else.

Still both sides attempted to play rugby on it, but Scotland just showed they have nothing in the tank for finishing, everytime they got possession just leading to a surrender shortly after. Again, Vern Cotter is on his way and that would be one of the strongest elements keeping the Scottish faithful on board. For now this looks set to be an extremely difficult Six Nations for them, even by recent standards. For England, well they realistically should have been able to do more with the game in front of them and with Scotland firing so poorly they may rue the impressive but still marginal points difference.
Scotland 0 – 20 England

France proved on Sunday that their supposed renaissance against England in round one wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Yes they won, but you would have to think that with Italy possibly looking at a serious regression after falling short to Wales, that England and Ireland will likely put far more points on the Azzuri than France managed this past weekend. Ten minutes, less even, yielded the bulk of their return and across the pitch they showed little of the supposed flair of last week, lending strength to the arguments that much of their game was based on lucky bounces.

Still they remain unbeaten and Wales now stand as there main hurdle, a wounded animal still in contention. For Italy, Scotland are always their likeliest shot and you would hope they don’t let their progress slip entirely, and register some calculated tries for their troubles too.
France 30 – 10 Italy

Image courtesy of irishrugby.ie

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  1. February 11th, 2014

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