French To Win The Six Nations?
A Quick Overview Of This Weekend
- Wales are good but discipline in the last 10 minutes cost them.
- France are better, even with a player red carded.
- England are dismal.
- Ireland played with passion.
- Scotland had a great win to set up this final match.
- Italy saved England from being bottom.
Ireland 32-18 England
An impressive display by the home team. A well deserved half time lead of 20-6 thanks in part to Keith Earls and Jack Conan who scored superb first-half tries. Ireland coach Andy Farrell certainly had a game plan for this fixture and it paid off handsomely, sadly to the detriment of his son the England captain.
With Lions coach Warren Gatland watching there must have been some serious note taking going on. Maybe Earls will be one of the hookers on the list of players, but Johnny Sexton who kicked 22 points has surely cemented his place in the starting fifteen.
England look tired, lacked ideas and the ill discipline was back. Bundee Aki’s red card in the 64th minute gave England the extra man advantage which enabled them to score a couple of tries in the last 15 minutes. The Connor Murray yellow card on the 78th minute gave the space for May to score a try wideout. Daly hit a magnificent drop-goal conversion from the left touchline to get England up to 18 points.
This defeat though means England slip to the worst finish since 1987 in their final Six Nations table, with Scotland still to play France meaning Ireland currently second could finish as runners up or slip to third, depending on the result.
According to Sir Clive Woodward in an article in the Telegraph, “Eddie Jones has become “all-powerful” at the Rugby Football Union and must be held to account after England’s disastrous Six Nations” and there are many others who are suggesting the same.
Scotland 52-10 Italy
It started off so well for Italy, with a try after 5 minutes, Captain Luca Bigi going over and Garbisi converting. Saldy it went downhill after this. Scotland hooker Dave Cherry and wing Duhan van der Merwe both scored twice as Scotland ran in 8 tries against a poor Italian performance. The 24-10 half time scoreline would have given Italian players and supporters a glimmer of hope for the second half, but indiscipline brought two yellow cards after the break. This gave Scotland 28 unanswered points in the second half, to claim their biggest winning margin in Six Nations history.
Seven of Italy’s 12 Six Nations wins since 2000 have come against Scotland, so they must have fancied the chance to salvage some pride in this years tournament. They haven’t won a Six Nations game since 2015 and it will need a lot of improvement before next year to get that statistic changed.
The good news for the Scotland squad is that the English Premiership have agreed to release players for the Friday night final match against France.
France 32-30 Wales
Saved the best to the last. What a bloody game of rugby this was. It was Grand Slam chasing Wales going head to head with title contenders France in Paris. It’s been said Wales have had a lucky run this year. With both Ireland and Scotland ( who they beat by a single point ), reduced to 14 man and a contentious refereeing display contributing to their (ultimately) convincing win over England. What people forget is Wales won the final twenty minutes of that England game 16-0, ( without a single ref controversy required) plus they have scored more tries than in any previous Six nations. This final Welsh fixture was going to be as dull as ditchwater or an all time classic. Luckily it was the latter, as both teams knew they needed a four try bonus point.
A blazing start by France saw a flurry of penalties awarded to them, a disallowed held up try before Romain Taofifenua manages to score a try which is converted. A quick reply by Wales sees them also have a try over ruled as the player was held up, at the other end. Dan Biggar does manage to crash over, with an excellent run on the angle and he converts his own kick, making it 7-7 after 14 minutes.
An instant reply from France though as Brice Dulin joins the line and chips over the top for the chasing Jalibert to gather for him to pass to Antoine Dupont to walk a try in. Beautiful French back play there in the 15th minute. France 14 – 14 Wales (Josh Navidi) in the 19th minute after some good play by Biggar once again, who also converted the kick. France replaced injured try scoring lock Romain Taofifenua, which could have been a big turning point so early on. Wales took the lead in the 24th minute as Biggar slots over a well taken penalty. France counter attack from the restart but Jalibert kicks the ball dead, meaning a scrum back on the French 10m line. Another enforced replacement as Jalibert goes off with a head injury to be assessed, Romain Ntamack his replacement starts off badly with a knock on, but redeems himself 3 minutes later with a nicely taken penalty to level the scores once again.
HALF TIME! France 17 – 17 Wales
Wales dominated possession in the first half and started the second in the same frame of mind. Biggar adds another three points after 6 minutes to give Wales the lead once again. Further points look on the card 3 minutes later when the TMO is called in once again to see if Josh Adams had managed to score a try. Try awarded and Biggar converts once again. A good French attack breaks down, but they were playing advantage and Romain Ntamack slots the penalty to reduce the deficit by 3.
The 58 minute mark saw game changing actions. Louis Rees Zammit was unlucky with a grounding wideout on the wing, where he was in for a try. Mohammed Haouas (France) was shown a Yellow card for pulling down a driving maul. Dan Biggar kicks the penalty to give Wales a 10 point buffer with 20 minutes left to play.
A French catch and drive from France before Marchand crashes over from the back of the maul, but he looks to be held up, so TMO is called into things again. Wales are offside in the tackle line from the France scrum five and Les Bleus take another scrum five, where Dulin looks to have gone over for a try. TMO time again. Bad news for France, as the try which was going to be awarded, isn’t and instead, it’s a Red card. In a ruck in the build up, Paul Willemse cleared out Wyn Jones and put his fingers near his eye, so after consultation between TMO and officials on the field, it’s a sending off.
With 11 minutes left on the clock, Wales decide to bring on fresh legs to finish off the game. Callum Sheedy for Biggar, Elliot Dee for Ken Owens, Leon Brown for Tomas Francis, and Willis Halaholo for Jon Davies. The French are awarded a lineout in the Welsh 22, and Cammille Chat is on for Marchand but his throw at the line is poor and Wales are able to break out. The French come straight back and Ollivon goes over again for a try, that’s deemed to be held up. After Wales had been told by the referee about a series of penalties defending their 22, Taulupe Faletau was shown a Yellow card for being caught offside. He’s quickly followed off the pitch 2 minutes later by Liam Willams who was off his feet and interfering with the ball. France 14, Wales 13, players on the park, that is!
French opting to use the extra man advantage go for a scrum after the penalty is awarded. Scrum collapsed as Wyn Jones gos down. Another penalty to France, who opt for the scrum again. The clock is ticking and each set and reset is eating into the little time left. Charles Ollivon does get over for a French try on the 77th minute, which Ntamack converts. 90 seconds left on the clock.
90 Seconds To Go For A Wales Grandslam and Six Nations
France knock it on! Wales have 90 seconds to keep hold of possession. Time is against France and they seemed not to realise this while they were taking the scrums 2 minutes earlier. Wales conceded a penalty for sealing off, Ntamack only has one option to go for touch. France have the ball on the Wales 22, they attempt to go right, then left before Dulin arrives on the scene, far out on the left wing. Conversion missed, but the game was won and the bonus point added too.
Brice Dulin of France scored his side’s fourth and winning try in the 82nd minute of a match that had everything.
France To Win The Six Nations?
Yes, they can if they score four tries vs Scotland next Friday and win by 21 points in the rearranged fixture. A couple of weeks ago, I’d have said that this was on the cards, but the Scots will be on a high after their drubbing of Italy this weekend. Paris will be the deciding chapter in this seasons Six Nations, the French are favourites but never say never with Scotland just now. Roll on Friday!.