Six Nations – Round 2

The 2017 Six Nations has kicked on with fireworks!

Every game was full of drama right to the end even if none of the teams scored four tries. Let’s see who’s hot and who’s cold for this weekend!

 

The biggest surprise of last week took place at Murrayfield where an inspired Scottish team start the game so fast and so strong to score three tries in less than half an hour! Ireland enjoyed an overall 56% possession and 61% territory with only 7 penalties conceded, these stats should be more than enough to win the game but of course the Scottish Team were ready for the battle!

The home defensive line for so aggressive and physical to take momentum away from the Irish attack. The blue forwards double tackled so hard and attacked every single ruck to force many turnovers that were transformed into gold by King Midas Hogg!

The Irish defensive line was so narrow in the first half to invite the Highlanders to attack out wide creating some dangerous over numbers! Thanks to a dominant scrum Ireland was in a good position to score points but give away so many opportunities that proved that the team was not delivering the usual standards of execution.

In the second half Ireland took control of the game but it was too late and two penalties kicked by Laidlaw secured an impressive first win for the home side!

Thanks to a brave defense and an extraordinary ability to take every chance the Scottish Team made a big statement for anybody who is going to Murrayfield and looking for an easy win!

 

Irish are traveling to Rome and will look for a big bounce back but in recent years they never won easy. They will try to stretch Italy defense like they did in the second half against Scotland! The Highlanders will travel to Paris and it’s going a big test for their hopes of final success!

 

The second game was a hard battle between two sides ready to give everything. England proved to be able to win a game without playing at its best when in the past it didn’t happen very often.

The French Team is very unpredictable because they play what it’s in front of them without too much structure. They have a big pack of forwards which can win the ball in the set piece and create momentum around the park.

They have a very solid defense because their players are educated to constantly interpret the situation.

Guy Noves is also building a new team culture, where players play not only for their country but also for each other… and everyone who knows the French understands how important it is. France is going to battle right to the end of this tournament for the final glory.

For Eddie Jones’ team there is a lot to improve but I believe this is going to be the perfect build up for this week Cardiff game!

I won’t be surprise if the Aussie coach will change the starting line-up against Wales to keep the internal competition at the maximum.

 

England travels to Cardiff where they won 2 years ago and will look to dominate the opposition up front in a better way they did against the French pack.

France hosts Scotland in a must win game if they want to stay in contention for the big price!

 

The final game of last weekend was so strange that it’s very difficult to understand if the result really tells the truth. Italy controlled the game for 50 minutes with a simple game plan delivered with accuracy.

They played for territory with a long kicking game by Canna, Padovani and McLean making the maximum of their opportunities in the first half. Wales didn’t find any space in the Italian defense in wet conditions.

The visitors enter the Italian 22 only because the home side gave away some soft penalties at the breakdown without keeping their composure and without waiting for the opposition errors. In the second half Italy didn’t solve their discipline problems and little by little Sam Davies took control of the game.

The young fly half played closer to the advantage line than what Dan Biggar did in the firs half. This ability to play flatter took away the rush defense from the Azzurri and didn’t allow them to keep dominating the collisions.

When Italy was left in 14 men by a yellow card the game open up and Wales almost scored 4 tries in 20 minutes. Margins are so small at these days that not only Italy but any team can’t afford to give away 16 penalties and a yellow card and pretend to win the game.

Discipline cost Italy the chance to compete right to the end but many referee calls where 50/50 situations… the good news is that they can control their own destiny by playing the referee better to improve their discipline in the areas of the field where they don’t need to force the contest.

With patience and accuracy I think they can put the opposition under pressure in the next games.

Wales was looking for a bonus point win but the reality tells that at the moment they are quite far from the form they need to be serious contenders for the final win!

 

Wales host England and it’s going to be a very emotional game for them but the have to deliver a better performance than what we saw in Rome.

Italy hosts Ireland and the Azzurri are very confident after last week first half, they know where they have to improve to be competitive right to the end of the game.

It’s a big test for their defense because the Irish will move the ball more and better than Wales, effective work without the ball is crucial but I’m sure Venter has work hard on that!

 

The first round results put some teams, France and Ireland, with their shoulders on the wall without the luxury of any other false step. Scotland is the only team that build something in the first game in terms of confidence and belief but we know that in every sport, and especially in rugby, the wind can turn very quickly!

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