Finally…..the Welsh have returned to winning ways.
After 8 consecutive defeats (Australia 3 times, Argentina, Samoa, New Zealand, Australia again, Ireland) Wales really needed a win, or else our 6 Nations was on it’s way to being a disaster. To make matters worse we had to travel to Paris to take on the French, who are usually a tough proposition and who might be even more fired up as they were coming off a defeat at the hands of the Italians. That coupled with their home advantage ensured that I had a very pessimistic mindset before the game, predicting that our streak would continue.
Of course, I wanted us to win, but I also want to date Rihanna, so I’ve made myself comfortable with disappointment.
However, and this keeps my dream of making sweet love to the good girl gone bad alive, Wales won. And won well.
The game wasn’t the most entertaining, largely due to the fact that France adopted an extremely negative approach to the match which saw them try and kick for points rather than play a running game. With the scores tied at 6 a piece, it was anybody’s game.
Wales were far from perfect, and there are still worrying aspects to the team, noticeably Dan Biggar’s patchy kicking and too many errors.
But on the whole, it was a stronger performance and the lads deserved to win, because they just seemed to want it more and drove forwards, trying to break through while the French just seemed content to kick the ball. It was frustrating to watch, especially as they adopted this kicking tactic early on with the scores tied. Instead of pursuing a try which would give them a stronger lead they seemed to go for the posts.
While keeping the scoreboard ticking over is usually a decent tactic, it’s usually what you do when you’ve built a lead and want to hold onto it, when there’s over 20 minutes left, go for the try.
Wales matched them kick for kick before finally breaking through thanks to a great piece of skill from Dan Biggar, who kicked the ball behind the French line for George North to snatch it and power over for the first try of the game, giving Wales a list of 11-6. Leigh Halfpenny added a conversion and a few minutes later a penalty, and by then France had left it too late.
Stade de France seemed like a pretty bad place to be, with the French fans whistling or leaving early and looking thoroughly unimpressed with their team. You got the impression that the bins around the stadium were going to be jam packed with novelty French hats.
It turned out that it was a weekend of surprises with Scotland thrashing Italy 34-10, a record win for the Scots in the tournament. The Italians had impressed by beating the French in Round 1 of the tournament, which meant that Scotland were the favourites for the Wooden Spoon this year, but they appeared to come into their own and managed to romp home, complete with tries. They also secured the highlight of the weekend with Stuart Hogg’s fantastic snatch and dash try.
The weekend’s third game was thus set up as the Grand Slam decider as England visited Dublin. But anyone expecting a thriller would be disappointed, with the conditions and playing styles of both teams meaning that while it was entertaining enough it was a low scoring, gritty affair.
It was a hot tempered grudge match with several explosions of shoving and shirt grabbing, and the game was pretty stop-start, even by rugby’s standards.
Ireland should have done better, but they seemed to have caught Wales’ mojo-deficiency and seemed hopelessly inept, committing far too many handling errors and wasting their possesion. England dug in deep and withstood a bruising, mean spirited affair.
England had a man binned, and could have had Owen Farrell carded for a pretty cynical obstruction in the first half, but the Irish were far from blameless. And their prop Cian Healy seemed to have sworn some kind of blood oath to hospitalize at least one Englishman before the end of the game, and should definitely get cited.
While some of the games weren’t exactly fantastic, it was a pretty good weekend for the tournament and has blown the whole championship wide open. England may be the only team who can pull off a Grand Slam, but with four teams on one win each it’s still anybody’s tournament.
There are no games next weekend, but my picks for Round 3 are (picks in bold):
- Italy vs Wales
- England vs France
- Scotland vs Ireland
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.