Six Nations: Round Four Preview

Wales v Italy

This is a no-brainer right? Right. Wales have won every game and are at home to an Italian side who have lost every game.

England showed the way for the rest of the world how to trouble Wales – tempt them into a bosh-fest. With Mike Philips at scrum half, there is every chance of dragging to a dogfight, tightening up space in the midfield, leaving Jamie Roberts too tempted by contact, and emasculating Davies, North and Halfpenny with no ball.

It’s a gameplan which might have appealed to Italy of two years ago but Novo Italia don’t do 10 man rugby any more – they toss the ball around with gay abandon and utter ineffectiveness. The lack of a fly-half worthy of the description is a major impediment, and they won’t come anywhere close to winning a game without one.

Only complacency is Wales’ enemy here, and there is a chance they could really go to town in the 4th quarter, like Ireland did, but they may empty the bench with Les Bleus in mind.

Verdict: Wales at a canter, by 20 points at least.

Ireland v Scotland

The Stade de Farce re-schedule and high-quality game means Scotland are coming into this game somewhat under the radar. All the talk has been about Tommy Bowe, Ireland’s aggressive defence then heroic resistance, followed by injuries to Paulie and Conor Murray. No-one has talked about Scotland, which is the way they will like it – from the soundbites coming from their camp, they seem confident they can win.

Scotland’s two Genuine Opensides (TM) will not only have Hook and McGurk drooling, but they will have Ireland worried – John Barclay did a serious job on them two years ago. In addition, Big Jim Hamilton and Slim Richie Gray will be licking their lips at the prospect of a lineout featuring no 4-jumper, or experienced caller.  Scotland’s lineout stats are the best in the tournament, and Ireland’s are the worst – and that was before O’Connell got injured.  The ball carrying ability of Healy, Best and the back-row is matched by Ford, Gray and Denton.

Ireland have a tradition under Deccie of having difficulty peaking for successive games. They will have in mind that England at Twickers will be draining, and may aim to go wide early and get some daylight on the scoreboard to facilitate third gear for the last quarter. The expansive approach will suit Scotland, and we fear inaccurate execution could let them grow into the game.

The Irish bench has been a real strength up to now, but we have been forced to start our best subs, and you can’t see McCarthy and O’Leary having the same impact that Ryan and Reddan have brought with them. Also, Radge’s corner kicking is effectively out of the equation given Paulie’s absence.

Verdict: We are intrigued by this Scottish team, and we think they will do someone over soon. Probably not Saturday though. Probably. Expect the Leinster half backs to drag Ireland over the line by less than a score.

France v England

Le Crunch.  Les Bleus v Les Rosbifs.  Le Marsaillaise.  Le Stade de France.  L’artiste dans le side of the pitch painting le picture.  Le vin rouge.  Le champagne rugby.  Les deux fairly ordinary teams based on championship form so far. 

France were much vaunted before the tournament began (including by us), but they have been fleeting, playing only in fits and starts.  They beat Italy without much of the ball, were decidedly fortunate to beat Scotland, and then were careless against Ireland, coughing up two turnover tries (one an intercept) and falling 11 points behind despite pretty much owning the football.  They’ve addressed things by replacing their stuttering halfbacks with the more prosaic talents of Beauxis and Julien Dupuy, and seem set to give it a bit of boot and bollock, as is PSAs wont.

This is the fixture where England tend to outperform, and they seem surprisingly chuffed with themselves after losing at home to Wales.  Lancaster has done a reasonable job so far but needs to learn how to use his bench i.e. don’t!  Under no circumstances should Dowson and an out-of-form Youngs have been introduced to disrupt England’s momentum.  They were unlucky in the end, and looked to have scored a potential equalising score at the death, but just two tries, both from chargedowns, in three games tells its own story.

Don’t expect a classic.

Verdict: We have France down for a narrow win here.  Expect the scores to rack up in multiples of three, but France may just have a single match-winning try in them.

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3 Comments

  1. Hello, I came to your blog and have been reading along your posts. I decided I will leave my first comment. I have enjoyed reading your blog. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often…

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  3. Thanks for sharing your view. Well, the match was so awesome and it would really be great to have 6 Nations packages and watch live next time.

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