We have reached the penultimate weekend of the Six Nations. So far it’s been the usual cauldron of highs & lows, unexpected comebacks, disappointing displays, and some electrifying rugby. Here’s my take on this week’s fixtures:
Ireland v Wales
Ireland bounced back from their unconvincing display against France to beat England a fortnight ago. This will definitely have given them confidence to be able to come out and dig out a victory against Wales. Wales on the other hand showed, yet again, their inability to play rugby for the whole 80 minutes, despite a brilliant 2nd half performance. If Wales can keep the tempo up for an entire match, they will be a force to be reckoned with. Having said that, I don’t believe the current squad is settled enough to deliver this yet. With their third change in the back row in as many matches it’s going to be difficult to get any cohesion, and the loss of Ryan Jones as captain is significant. If it opens up, Wales are in with a shout, however, Ireland are savvy nowadays and can turn this into a ‘Munsterfest’, and not give up possession. I also imagine that Brian O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy will be keeping an eye out for loose loop passes for them to nab a couple of interceptions, which cost Wales dearly against France. Based on this, I’m going with an Ireland victory by 5 points. See I can go with my head instead of my heart sometimes!
Scotland v England
This could be a tough match for both sides. I can’t imagine it being pretty. Martin Johnson has made a couple of interesting calls, one to retain Delon Armitage at full back. He hasn’t really shown much so far and many have called for Ben Foden to be called into the starting XV (although he is on the bench covering numerous positions). Johnson has also dropped Moody and replaced him with his World Cup winning chum Joe Worsley. Now, I like Worsley and think that he’s a very good flanker, but Lewis Moody hasn’t done much wrong as far as I can tell. In a war of attrition, Worsley’s presence might offer more stability up front and Johnson is obviously expecting a massive physical encounter. I’m going to say that England are probably going to win this, with Wilkinson kicking them to victory (again). England by 6.
France v Italy
I fully expect France to take another step towards achieving the Grand Slam on Sunday. Italy did well and were, rightly, very pleased to beat Scotland. However, this weekend they are playing France. In France. I can’t see this going any other way other than a comprehensive French victory. So i’ll go for France by 15.
If these results go the other way, however, it will make next weekend very interesting!