Sunday, March 15, 2009

Six Nations - Week 4.

Can't make up my mind which was the more impressive - England's first half demolition of France, or Ireland's second half turnaround against a Scotland team which had dominated the first 40 minutes. I think perhaps the English shaded it, because it was more unexpected. Its been a rather unpredictable six nations this year. Scotland have been poor, but should have been 20 points to the good by half time yesterday - and over this season's possible Grand Slam winners. England have been trash, until a terrific display of attacking rugby for 40 minutes today - as good as anything we've seen. France were full of fire and brimstone against Wales, and full of aimless boot and wind today. Ireland have never really sparkled, but are still unbeaten - just doing enough. Italy have been well, Italy. And Wales, who started like a Ferrari, and sputtered like a Trabant ever since.

Italy deserved to beat Wales yesterday - and for two reasons. Firstly they were the better team on the day. And secondly it would have served Warren Gatland right for making so many changes, giving an impression of dismissiveness and arrogance. And this attitude infected the players, right up to the final whistle. I could not believe it when Stephen Jones went for the posts from an unlikely position with just seconds on the clock. The only play was a kick into the corner, followed by a safe line-out, and laying siege to the Italian line. I was screaming at the TV. Those seven points could cost Wales the championship, and why on earth give the Italians one last chance of victory. Against any other team at that stage, the kick would have been into the corner. Every impartial viewer would like to have seen Sergio Parissi catch the ball and run the length of the field to score under the posts. In fact, he's such a fabulous player that I wouldn't have minded too much myself.

And so to next week. We have tickets. I want Wales to win by 14 points, but I would not be too upset if O'Driscoll's men do it. We have some Irish family links now and anyway, its been over 60 years since Ireland took a Grand Slam. Its too tough to call with any confidence. But I do think Wales will have the Ferrari out for this one. If I have to call, its the men in red.


alanindyfed said...

Your headline attracted me to think you were referring to the six nations of England, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Ireland and Mannin!
We look forward to a time of friendly competition in the sports arena among these formerly fractious nations of the British Isles.

Unixman said...

The first half of the England match was the best rugby of the whole of this years 6 nations by a mile. It made suffering watching such turgid matches that have occured this season almost bearable. Understandably it couldn't continue into the second half but by then the match was won.

Wales played with fire on Saturday, and Gatland's head would have been on the block if Italy - as they deserved to - had actually won.

Glyn Davies said...

Alan - I once played in the Isle of Man sevens. It was a high standard tournament played over Easter. We (Shrewsbury) reached the final, but were so destroyed from having to play exrtra time time against Dublin Wanderers firsts in the semi, that we were smashed by their seconds in the final.

Unixman - I'm not going to argue - though I thought Wales first half against Scotland was pretty good.