The 4th weekend of this year’s 6 Nations saw Wales take on Ireland, followed by England playing Scotland; and finally on Sunday Italy took on France.
Wales v Ireland
What an exciting 4th weekend of the 2015 6 Nations it was for Welsh fans. Much to most people’s surprise, including mine; Wales beat Ireland in what, by all accounts, was a thrilling game in Cardiff. Unfortunately I was on a bus from Valparaiso to Santiago in Chile at the end of my two week cruise in South America; so it was only due to texts from my wife and my sister that I was able to keep abreast of what was going on! I am yet to see the game, except for 2-minute highlights; but from everything I have read it seems that it was one of the best defensive performances by Wales in recent years. Ireland threw everything at Wales, but the Welsh defence stood firm to keep them out.
Ireland went into the game on a 10-match winning streak, and were the bookies’ favourites to beat Wales, despite Wales playing at home. But Wales raced into a 12-0 lead which, from what I have read, rattled Ireland. However, I have also read that at half time, with the score at 15-6 to Wales, many felt that Ireland would take hold of the game in the second half. But, despite the Irish being camped in the Welsh half for long periods, the Welsh defence was apparently supreme and held out to onslaught after onslaught from the men in green. Many pundits are calling it one of the best-fought Welsh wins in many many years.
England v Scotland
Although I was in a hotel in Santiago by the time this game came on ESPN2, I did not really watch it as I was shattered from being woken up early as the ship came into port in Valparaiso and the anchors being dropped from what seemed like 1 metre from our cabin at 4am! So, all I really know about this game is the score, and that in the first half Scotland gave England a bit of a scare before being overpowered by a very strong England side. It means England retain the Calcutta Cup, and are probably favourites to win this year’s Championships (but more on that below).
Italy v France
I have seen nothing nor read anything about this game, but the scoreline suggests it was a comfortable win for France.
Summary and next weekend
With Wales beating Ireland, the Irish’s hope of a Grand Slam is over, but they can still win the Championships next weekend.
I haven’t had time to read up about all the possible permutations for next weekend; but from what I can gather Wales, Ireland and England all have a chance of winning the 2015 6 Nations. Wales are the first to play on “super Saturday”, with an away game against Italy. As Gatland said in his post-match interview, if we go to Rome thinking we can rack up a big score we may well come unstuck. Italy are not the push-over that they were ten years ago, and Wales will need to tire them out before we can think of opening up the game. I expect the Welsh forwards to grind down the Italian pack in the first 50-odd minutes, and then in the last 30 or so minutes for us to try and score some points. If we can score enough, we can win the Championships, but it is a big “if”.
England have the best points difference, so if they beat France they should, in theory, also with the Championships. But, who knows with France? I assume they put in a good display against Italy if they won 29-0, so maybe they will turn up in Twickenham and do a number on England. I sincerely hope so! Ireland should beat Scotland, but Scotland are a much better team this year and so I do not see Ireland getting a big win.
I know I may be getting my hopes up, but I really think Wales can do it and get a high-scoring win in Rome. If we do, we have a very good chance to win the 6 Nations for the 3rd time in 4 years, a remarkable achievement and one which will give us huge confidence going into the World Cup. I will have my fingers and toes very firmly crossed next Saturday!