What a weekend of rugby. Lots has been said and written this week about the opening weekend of the Nat West Six Nations. Because of that I’ll not delve to deeply. That said, what actually happened at the Principality Stadium? The Scots were clear favourites and were blown away. Finn Russell wasn't his usual territory monster and very few mentions of Scottish hero Hoggy. The Irish were run really close in Paris with the whole team eventually involved in 41 phases before that man Sexton ruined the party with a huge drop goal! The Italians put up little resistance against an England team which at times looked poor, certainly in defence, but eventually ran in seven try’s. England topped the table on points difference.
So, week 2. Scotland have made significant changes to face the French at Murrayfield. The Murrayfield faithful will demand a significant improvement on the pitch. Too lateral last week they’ll need big ball carriers to break the French. Set pieces will have to function and Russell will have to start dominating his back line. Sadly missing from his game last week. The French, hurting from Sextons heroics, will need to get a fast start. Silence the home support and use their speed. Hoggy may be the difference. Hurt, pride and starting places may be on the line on this one, but I suspect the Scots may bounce back and deliver a Glasgow style victory. Ugly up front, make the hard yards and Russell allowing his back three to run amok out wide. Scotland win by 7. Only a losing bonus point in this one.
The English weren’t particularly tested by the Italians. The loss of Ben Young’s early on didn’t seem to affect them too badly. Danny Care came on and delivered fast ball, hitting most breakdowns first. I don’t think we saw the best of Farrell last week. The Welsh are buoyed and will be chomping at the big to run out at Twickenham. Comments made by Eddie Jones about inexperienced Rhys Patchell and Alun Wyn Jones talking to the ref may give Gatland something to latch on to. No less than ten Scarlets players in the Welsh side will be an advantage. Two try Halfpenny was back to his best against the Scots. For me England still have that attacking edge. Ben Teo has dropped to the bench with Joseph starting in the 13 channel. Ball carrying around will decide this one. Not George v Dragon mentality. This is a game for purists. The best defence will win this. No bonus points here I feel. England win by 10.
Conor O Shea will love the chance to play the Irish. That said the Italians won’t show up. Totally dominated last week you will know that perfectionist, and reportedly cat lover, Joe Schmidt will have his homework done. Nothing less than a double figure bonus point win will do. He’ll be desperate to turn round the close run game last week. Hard to look past a thirty point victory.
So, that’s it. Game on. #rugbyunited