The first round of the Six Nations taught us absolutely nothing, other than sometimes in life, and in rugby, you probably don’t get what you deserve.
Ireland were blessed to come away with a win over Scotland, while England were impressive in defeat. A Welsh victory over Italy is about as impressive beating a dead horse and the entire tournament is wide open because of it.
So where do we go from here? Well, France won’t be found out yet as they host Italy in Paris, but the other four sides are about to grab a measure of just where they stand. Saturday might be the most revealing day of the entire tournament.
This is the clash of two sides moving on from their most successful coaches and coping with the ensuing hangover. It appears from week one, that Ireland are definitely struggling as their line discipline was appalling, giving up countless line breaks, to Stuart Hogg in particular.
While Joe Schmidt coached attritional rugby, Farrell wants to move on from that and take more chances.
It’s going to take some time to adjust, but it’s no surprise to see Keith Earls recalled to take part in this focus shift.
Wales might have an even bigger superstar than they realised in Josh Adams and given Larmour’s superb anticipation, that could be a matchup to watch come Saturday. But Wales have more in the front eight and while Ireland will do well to test the Welsh fullback line with the boot, they’re going to have to be stronger in the tackle than they were against a lighter Scottish pack.
I can see this one edging towards a Welsh victory and while the handicap is enticing, the recent results between Ireland and Wales, despite your presumptions, actually haven’t been that close at all. It’s for this reason that I’m more intent on backing Wales outright to win the game.
Mako Vunipola is back into the English pack and given their performance in Paris, my guess is that he, Mr. Sinckler and the rest of their front eight are in foul form.
Scotland played well enough to beat Ireland, but given the state of their decision-making and lack of going back to basics when it mattered – looking at grounding, and you, Stuart Hogg – there’s nothing here that tells me their culture has improved and that’s down to coaching.
Fagerson and Sutherland are going to have their hands full at scrum time – something I presume England will look to exploit, but when Ali Price and Adam Hastings are your nine/ten combination instead of Laidlaw/Russell, I think they’re up against it all over the pitch, to begin with.
Scottish success came via Kinghorn in the past but England won’t make the mistakes out wide again and they’ll need Eddie Jones’ men to show real indiscipline at the breakdown if they’re to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
I’d love to see it – I just can’t see it. Scotland’s Six Nations campaign will be over before it ever really began.
Ireland v Wales – Wales @ 5/4
Scotland v England: England -8 @ 10/11
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