5 Talking Points Heading Into The 2nd Round Of The Six Nations
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Will there be any surprises this weekend?
The Six Nations returned with a bang this past weekend as Scotland shocked Ireland in the opening game. Vern Cotter’s men blitzed Ireland in the first-half, and despite an excellent comeback by Joe Schmidt’s men- made them pay for not being clinical when it mattered, claiming a famous win.
England and France were up next in what was another surprise affair. The French put England to the sword and very nearly pulled off a famous Twickenham win, only for Ben Te’o to pop up with a late try.
In the Sunday fixture, a Wales side low on confidence did a number on Italy thanks to a late rally. Rob Howley’s men left Rome however, without a try-bonus, a missed chance that may come back to haunt them.
Here’s are five talking points heading into round 2.
How will Ireland respond?
A shock defeat on the opening day will have hit the players hard this week. Ireland showed up late to Murrayfield and it was evident in the first-half as Scotland ran in two early tries. The Irish looked lost in defence, and were unable to convert a number of chances in the second-half that would have closed out the game. Will Joe Schmidt ring the changes or go with the same side that struggled against the Scots in some key areas? Ireland need to come out firing and nothing less than a try bonus win will suffice if they’re to keep their dreams of still winning the Six Nations alive. How they react this weekend could well decide how they fair in the tournament overall.
Will Cardiff be the difference between England and Wales?
England’s record in Cardiff is not good, but they’ve never travelled there with Eddie Jones at the helm. The Australian has been up to his old tricks all week, questioning why are England afraid of lowly old Wales, and seems unfazed by the trip. Rob Howley looks set to be without Dan Biggar and potentially George North, but is likely to welcome Toby Faletau back for a spot on the replacements bench. Sam Davies was the difference against Italy, and could be thrown in the lions den from the get go against England. Do Wales have a big game in them? We certainly hope so as it would blow the Six Nations wide open and make the next few weeks far more exciting.
Can Scotland build on their Ireland win?
Are Scotland just a flash in the pan or can they make a genuine challenge this year? The win against Ireland was a huge step forward, and will give them great confidence, but they were exposed in defence by Ireland on a number of occasions, leading to a couple of soft tries. The French looked like an entirely different side against England and a Six Nations visit to Paris is always tough. Based on last weekend, this could well end up being the tie of the round.
Are France back?
Who knew France still had a big game in them? For a large portion of Saturday’s game it looked like Guy Noves was about to pull off a famous win. France look more organised, fitter and seem to have some of their old flair back. Louse Picamoles was the player of the round last weekend, and another performance like that could cause some serious problems for the Scots. We can’t stress enough how excited we are for the France and Scotland game on Sunday. It’s going to be an absolute belter.
What next for Italy?
Conor O’Shea’s Italian Job may take a lot longer than he originally expected. Parisse was once again immense on Sunday, but as we’ve seen time and time again- there’s only so much one man can do. The Italians were once again sloppy in their decision making and just fell apart in typical Azzuri fashion in the second-half. O’Shea has a big job on his hands, but realistically, it’s going to take a lot more than a decent November series to make the Italians a force in the Six Nations. O’Shea is definitely the right man for the job, but this is a long-term project, so we’re not expecting much from them over the course of this years Six Nations to be honest.