Friday, February 10, 2006
Six Nations - Second Weekend Preview
This weekend is the second weekend of the championship, and after last week's matches, it could be a very interesting one. Effectively, the championship is pretty much wide open at this stage, and the eventual winners will be the team that can absorb the physical and psychological pressure the best.
First off; France v Ireland. This could be an interesting match. On paper, France should walk away with it, but with their loss to Scotland, a lot will depend how they respond to that defeat. Has their confidence been dented, or will they be out to show that it was an aberration. Ireland, who played no where near their best last week, and who were lucky to win, can not possibly play as badly again. I'm sure they will have been working hard to start to play as a team and together again. If Ireland can pick up their game, and France are still suffering after effects, then it could be an Ireland win, but I feel that with France playing at home, they will want to show that last week's game was a one off, and that they are back to winning ways. France win, but narrowly.
Next up; Italy v England. After Italy's narrow and controversial loss to Ireland last week, they are not going to be in the best of moods! This is likely to be England's toughest match physically up against a heavyweight pack, and big backs that are starting to show some connectivity. The good news is that England, after a bit of a slow start, began to show that they are returning to the standard of play that got them a World Cup. At the end of the day, I believe that England will be too strong throughout all departments and should win the game. England win, but how ruthlessly?
Finally, on Sunday; Wales v Scotland. Like the France/Ireland game, this is a game between 2 teams who have something to prove. Scotland would love to show that their win over the potential World Cup finalists France, was not a one off. In that game, last week, Scotland played with real flair and enthusiasm, and left France flat-footed. Can they repeat that performance against Wales? Certainly their confidence is up, and they are enjoying playing the game again, but Wales are at home, and Scotland don't travel well. Wales have a real question to answer this weekend. Do they have the strength of character to come back from such a heavy defeat against England, and show some of the class that got them the Grand Slam last year. I believe that Wales will probably shave it. Wales win, but it will be close.