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Six Nations 2014 – Do Or Die For Gatland

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As well as the much anticipated meeting of Ireland and England, there are of course two other imminently watchable Six Nations clashes this weekend. For Italy and Scotland, keeping off the bottom is the aim of the game. For Wales and France however, this is the weekend one will see their championship hopes effectively disappear.

Warren Gatland has set the interest running in a hurry with the announcement that Mike Phillips has dropped to the bench. No, it has nothing to do with Niall Horan on crutches, but Gatland has readily admitted that his temperament is a primary factor. When a playmaker such as him is not playing clearly and focused, a team will suffer. If Wales are back to their true form this evening then France will face their first true test of the tournament.

Philippe Saint-Andre has seen fit to make just one forced change to his side, and though there is undoubted individual talent in the team, you would think France will be somewhat “found out” against Wales. They were extremely lucky against England, and tremendously fortunate with the officials against Italy, two factors that will mean little in Cardiff. All remains to be seen of course in yet another unpredictable Six Nations, but the writing is somewhat on the wall for France, and that they can be at risk of a loss to a team that has performed so below par thus far in the tournament, speaks volumes of the troubled position of French rugby.

Wales win

Ah Scotland. Ah Italy. Together two teams that encourage such sympathy it’s hard not to root for both. As condescending as that may seem towards the two, both of these teams of late just consistently frustrate. Admittedly Scotland are in a dire situation that extends beyond the national setup but Italy by now truly have no excuses for poor results. Yes they still have a long way to go, but for the most part they’re bigger, faster and far more skilled than they were ten years ago. Wins like last year’s over France and Ireland should no longer be flash in the pan shocks, they need to become commonplace.

In most years the Scotland and Italy game has tended to be the wooden spoon play off. This looks set to be no different, with Scotland highly unlikely to beat France or Wales, and Italy the same for Ireland and England. It is a pity being honest, both nations are capable of better, but not this year. Hopefully Italy can unleash some of the back play they’ve hinted at under Jacques Brunel however and at least we won’t have a repeat of Murrayfield two weeks ago.

Italy win

Image courtesy of RBS6nations.com

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