The Six Nations returned last weekend with an adrenaline-fuelled weekend of action. The second weekend of games take place this weekend, and there are some huge matches in store.
England vs Italy
It’s fair to say that England’s Six Nations defence couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start. Eddie Jones’ side were way below par at Twickenham against Scotland, and were flat throughout. They got their just deserves for being so far off the pace in that game, as they were beaten by the Scots, who ended a barren run of defeats at the home of English rugby.
There are a number of factors that could have been connected to the defeat, but one argument that holds the most weight is the fact that many England stars were short of match practice, and that was telling. Owen Farrell, Elliot Day and Jamie George had all not played a minute for their club side for a number of months, after Saracens were relegated before the start of the season. However, England’s chances will be boosted this weekend with the returning Mako Vunipola.
As for Italy, it is the same old story. They lack the quality to land a punch on all the other sides involved in the Six Nations, and that was evident in their 50-10 defeat against France on the opening weekend. It would be difficult to see anything other than the Italians finishing bottom of the Six Nations yet again this year, and another defeat could be swiftly coming this weekend, as England win big.
Scotland vs Wales
There was a feeling that Scotland’s win at Twickenham last weekend could have been a pivotal moment in their development as a team. They have been smashing records as a team for the last couple of months, and there is no denying that they are a nation that are certainly moving in the right direction. The biggest indicator that there has been growth was the opening eight minutes of the second half, where they showed the character to continue to attack England despite being a man light.
In truth, after they successfully navigated that passage, the result never looked to be in question. There is no shortage of talent in this Scottish team, with Rory Sutherland and Hamish Watson both among the standout players in the win over England.
Wales also kicked off their Six Nations campaign with a win last weekend, as they beat Ireland. It was the most entertaining of all the games played last weekend, as the Welsh were made to work very hard against an Irish side that were playing one man light throughout the encounter. However, their chances will certainly have been affected this week, as it was announced that George North would be missing for the trip to Scotland. He will join Jonathan Davies and Johnny Williams on the injury list for the Welsh.
It is a rare occasion that the pressure will actually be on Scotland this weekend, and a win could see them emerge as genuine contenders for the Six Nations this year.