State o’ the Six Nations: Week 2

The Six Nations Table after Week 2

The Six Nations Table after Week 2

Ireland 6 – England 12

In a nutshell
A disciplined English side hold their nerve against injury and knock-on prone Ireland in lowest scoring Six Nations match ever.

Beyond the nut
Handling errors from Ireland gifted possession and territory to England and became the difference between the sides. The first half was a comedy of errors: dropped catches from Jamie Heaslip along with knock-ons from Gordon D’Arcy, Mike McCarthy and Rory Best deflated the Irish team and put them on the back foot.

With poor performances throughout the field it’s harsh and unfair to single out one player for criticism, yet Declan Kidney must now consider either Ian Keatley, Ian Madigan or Paddy Jackson for the number 10 position in place of Ronan O’Gara. A younger O’Gara would have controlled yesterday’s game with astute kicks from hand and the penalty tee.

Yet on the evidence of yesterday it seems O’Gara – who will be 36 next month – is unable to compete at international level. His attempted garryowens were ill-struck, his kicks for touch from penalties were awful, and he sailed a crucial kick at goal wide. So slow was he in the loose that O’Gara was unable to pass on the run or feign a dummy, while on three occasions he failed the out-half’s most basic task of clearing his lines with the English pack tackling him before he could get his kicks away.

Injuries are a major worry for Ireland now with Simon Zebo out of the tournament and Jonny Sexton ruled out for the next match and possibly more. Sean O’Brien, Rob Kearney, Brian O’Driscoll, Mike McCarthy and Donnacha Ryan all picked up knocks so Ireland will have to make the most of the two week break before travelling to Murrayfield. Meanwhile Cian Healy could face a long term ban for an alleged stamp.

It seems England of 2013 with Owen Farrell are a cut and paste copy of England 2003 with Jonny Wilkinson. The England 2.0 game plan is simple: win territory, win penalties and let the out-half kick the points. Farrell was calm and assured in his play yesterday which belied his 21 years and he could well be selected at number 10 for the Lions this summer ahead of Sexton.

Defensively the English were superb with Ireland never threatening to score a try. England captain Chris Robshaw led from the front with a superb display of tackling, ball carrying and decision making. The leadership shown by Robshaw was markedly absent on the Irish side and the 26 year old was rightly named Man of the Match.

Were it not for a few missed kicks from Farrell the score-line would have better reflected the England’s dominance.

France 6 – Wales 16

In a nutshell
Wales out muscle poorly selected and largely uninterested French side in bish-bash-bosh affair.

Beyond the nut
Pffffff. Awful rugby match. Why Philippe Saint-Andre refuses to start world class players like Morgan Parra and François Trinh-Duc is a mystery and his decision to introduce Trinh-Duc as a number 12 substitute would bewilder even Sherlock Holmes.

Wales will be happy with their effort and completing the biggest Welsh win in Paris since 1975 will kick-start their season.

A lot of huff and puff, couldn’t watch it all.

Scotland 34 – Italy 10

In a nutshell
Two breakaway tries sealed a Scottish victory over on Italy side still celebrating their defeat of France in week 1.

Beyond the nut
With Italy and Scotland both recording a victory maybe France will get the wooden spoon this year.