All you need to know about the second round of RBS Six Nations matches
IN A NUTSHELL
England 47 – 17 Italy
England scored six tries in their second Six Nations game, including four in 13 second-half minutes to defeat Italy. The visitors drew first blood with a try by captain Sergio Parisse and England had to reorganise their back line after ten minutes when Mike Brown was stretchered off with a head injury.
However, they bounced back with a try from Billy Vunipola and a gold-plated individual score from Jonathan Joseph to lead 15-5 at half-time.
Luca Morisi dummied and swerved through the England defence ten minutes into the second half but the next 20 minutes was all England. Ben Youngs darted over after 55 minutes, Joseph scored his second fantastic try, then Danny Cipriani added England’s fifth with his first touch of the match before another come-back “kid” Nick Easter was driven over with 68 minutes on the clock.
Italy had the final say with Morisi’s second try but it was the other two-try star, Joseph, who was named Man of the Match.
Ireland 18-11 France
You wouldn’t know Johnny Sexton hadn’t played a game of rugby for 12 weeks. The pinpoint accuracy of his kicking from hand was a feature of the first 40 minutes and he slotted five penalties in this win, but he did have to go off for treatment in the second half as he clashed heads with Mathieu Bastareaud and both men were left bleeding.
Ian Madigan slotted a penalty while Sexton was off the pitch, with the match becoming dominated by the whistle of referee Wayne Barnes. It was difficult for either team to get any flow to their game, although France did play more rugby in the second half. It was their ill-discipline that cost them overall.
Pascal Papé was sin-binned for kneeing Jamie Heaslip in the back at a maul, but Ireland could not take advantage of the extra man. France did, though, when Rory Best was yellow-carded, Romain Taofifenua adding to Camille Lopez’s two first-half penalties when he crossed for a try after the visitors had stretched the Irish defence. It made for a nervy last ten minutes, but Ireland held on.
Now the tournament’s two unbeaten teams – Ireland and England – will meet in two weeks’ time in Dublin. Hopefully that match will produce better quality throughout than this.
Scotland 23-26 Wales
It’s hard to put this one in a nutshell. Two frenetic sides went toe to toe in this wide-open affair, but it was Wales who took the spoils at Murrayfield.
The match was taken to the fuse with a Finn Russell turnover while Wales were pounding away and Stuart Hogg made the most of a 50m wing with Richard Hibbard on it. Wales didn’t panic though and after an exchange of penalties Dan Biggar backed himself to catch a high ball. Russell misjudged the flight and ended up upending an airborne (and furious) Biggar. It was only a yellow, but Wales made the numbers count with Liam Williams feeding Rhys Webb, who flew over for a try.
Jonathan Davies got his own yellow, but it was another kick swap until a maul splintered and Liam Williams pounced in the corner. But it was pulled back, with the TMO adjudging that the Welsh locks blocked Rob Harley. It didn’t last long, as Jonathan Davies burst through Matt Scott to score his own under the sticks.
Mark Bennett went over with five to go, but his fine pick-up was said to be from a knock-on.
Wales did whatever they could to brawl and kick Scotland away from their line, but they eventually allowed Jon Welsh to climb over the line. It was tight and there were contentious decisions – let alone not allowing one last kick-off before blowing the final whistle – but it was thoroughly entertaining.
553 – The number of metres made by England, while Italy made 327 in the same match.
22 – England’s total of missed tackles, which will give the coaches something to work on in the next two weeks.
15 – The number of tackles made by both Robbie Henshaw and Bernard le Roux, more than any other players.
0 – The number of line breaks made by Ireland compared to two by France.
30 – The number of penalties conceded by both teams at Murrayfield, with Wales infringing 17 times.
3 – This number of passes may not look like much, but Alun Wyn Jones was everywhere in this game, offering support and always shaping to offload.
123 – The number of metres made with ball in hand by Stuart Hogg.
“We are all delighted with the result. My memories go back to two years ago when we were struggling to win the game (against Italy). In order to beat Ireland in Ireland we will have to step up but two from two, we will take that and build on that in training,” England coach Stuart Lancaster
“We are very disappointed. In the last 20 to 30 minutes Ireland were on the back foot but our discipline let us down. I don’t think we are as bad as people think,” France coach Philippe Saint-André
“We didn’t back up the pressure we put them under and they were then able to do the same to us. There were a lot of things in the game that frustrated me in terms of things we wanted to do well but didn’t execute out there,” Ireland captain Paul O’Connell
“From where I was sitting I think there was time to take the kick.” Scotland Captain Greig Laidlaw on referee Glen Jackson’s decision to blow the final whistle.
“My initial reaction was that the first one (yellow card for Finn Russell taking Dan Biggar out in the air) was a red.” Wales coach Warren Gatland