The Six Nations returned to our screens this month and after early wins on the board for both England and France, we preview week two’s round of rugby action.
Italy v England
Following a horrific Rugby World cup where the Red and Whites were duly dumped out of the competition in the group stages, Eddie Jones’ men will be looking to continue making amends following their Six Nations opening weekend win over neighbours Scotland.
On Sunday they face an Italy side who whilst will be massive underdogs on paper, were desperately unfortunate to not snatch a draw in their 23-21 defeat to France last Saturday after Italian flanker Sergio Parisse dragged his conversion kick just wide in the dying moments of the game.
Big scorers Dan Cole and Billy Vunipola will be expected to the lead the England charge in Rome on Sunday afternoon with rising star Maro Itoje also capable of causing problems for the Azurri if he makes an appearance off the bench. Neil Jones’ men should get the job done in relative comfort Sunday afternoon but must wary of an Italian side who have rarely been a pushover at home in recent times.
Wales v Scotland
Next up, it’s the Millennium stadium in Cardiff that plays host to Wales’ Six Nations match-up with Scotland Saturday afternoon, a venue where they’ve failed to beat the Scots at since 2002.
The Welsh side were made to go the whole nine yards in their gruelling 16-16 draw with Ireland in Dublin last week whilst their opponents Scotland will be desperate for improvement after losing 15-9 to a resolute England side at Murrayfield.
Despite an impressive World Cup where the Scots narrowly lost out to eventual finalists Australia in the second round, it seemed to be two steps forward and one step back for Vern Cotter’s side in their defeat to England last weekend. With Wales’ blood and thunder contest with Ireland no doubt standing them in good stead, we’re tipping The Dragons to finally break their duck and pick up two points on Saturday afternoon.
France v Ireland
As already mentioned, France were ran dangerously close to the wire in their narrow victory over Italy last weekend. Ireland meanwhile will be disappointed they couldn’t make home advantage count in their draw with Wales at the Aviva stadium in week one.
With neither side exerting any real influence on their respective opening Six Nations games last weekend, Joe Schmidt might have gear up his Irish side for another close contest in Paris on Saturday.
With revenge from their World Cup defeat to the Irish still fresh in the mind of the home side at the Stade de France in this weekend’s maiden fixture, we can see Les Bleus edging out a brave Irish side to pick up their second maintain their position at the top of the group.
Author – Andrew MacFarlane