Tom Roberts has been reviewing every teams performance each week in the 2019 Six Nations. Check out his Week One and Week Two Takeaways below…
How did Scotland not win? The ability of this Scotland team is fantastic and they do play some seriously good rugby. However, their ability to not convert opportunities into points is costing them and will continue to cost them against top sides.
The absence of multiple players through injury, especially Stuart Hogg, has exploited the lack of depth in the Scotland squad. They have still attempted to play their structures though and when they are successful in executing this they look good. Yet, they have to start being clinical with the chances they get.
It was a poor first half performance against Wales, in contrast though, the second half they were really good but they only came away with one try to show for it while having 78% territory and 75% possession in final 40 minutes.
It has been a disappointing Six Nations for Scotland, however, a win this weekend against England and you would suspect all would be forgiven.
And here we go.
You would not have thought at the start of this championship that Wales would be heading into the final weekend on the cusp of winning the Grand Slam. The atmosphere will be electric as they look to achieve their first title since 2013 and first Grand Slam since 2012.
They were not at their best against Scotland but their defence was first class as they continued to hold their opponents out in the second half. I believe they would still be better off starting Dan Biggar ahead of Anscombe due to his ability to control the game, however, it would seem that is unlikely to happen.
If Wales are to win the Grand Slam this Saturday, their defence will have to be at its best against the finest attacking side in the tournament.
This weekend is bigger than the Six Nations or Grand Slam for Wales, a win this weekend will show to world rugby that their recent form is not to be taken lightly and they will be a force going into the World Cup.
This was just a formality, to be honest. It was very similar to the France game with England efficient on the ball, only needing 39% in both possession and territory to rack up 57 points.
Joe Cokanasiga was fun to watch and it was the perfect game to showcase his ability, making 107 metres, beating four defenders and making five clean breaks. Furthermore, his catch and offload, which almost sent Tom Curry away in the first half was fantastic. Therefore, it is strange to see that he has not even made the bench for Saturday.
However, England did what they needed to do this week and struck back after coming up short against Wales in the previous round.
Against Scotland, Eddie Jones’ men will be expected to emerge victorious and cap off the Six Nations in style. Regardless of whether they are lifting the title come Saturday evening, Jones can be proud of his players for the performances they have put in this Championship.
I do have my concerns for England heading into the world cup, especially at fly-half, however, after an up and down 2018, you could not ask for a much better return to form.
Italy failed to capitalise on their performance from two weeks ago against Ireland and that was compounded by a heavy defeat at Twickenham. On a positive, Tommaso Allan provided some magic for his individual try, however, I am not sure where Italy go from here.
Some have suggested a relegation match against Georgia but Italy already beat Georgia in the Autumn Internationals 28-17 and even if Georgia did cause an upset, would they be more competitive?
It is a tough situation however the harsh fact is Italy are just not good enough to compete at this level and it does not look like that will change for the foreseeable future.
By far Ireland’s best performance of the Six Nations and their attack looked back to its best as they registered three tries in the first half against France before Keith Earls secured the bonus point in the 56th minute.
The set-piece move that saw Sexton grab his try was fantastic, multiple lines and options made it impossible for France to cover and Ireland’s fly-half found himself through a huge gap in a beautiful wrap around move.
They starved France of possession and territory, especially in the first half were France could only muster 11% territory and 23% possession leading the game to be all but done at the conclusion of the first 40 minutes.
It is the exact performance Ireland needed, especially going into the final weekend of the Six Nations were they still maintain an outside chance of winning the championship, not bad for an underperforming team.
A tough day for France and especially frustrating coming off a superb performance against Scotland, however, this is nothing to be shocked by.
When you have 23% possession and 11% territory in any half of rugby, not to mention against arguably the best team in world rugby right now, it is never, going to end well. However, for the young players coming through, especially their half-backs, Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack, let us hope it is a learning curve.
Some people have pointed out the various amounts of players from different teams in the France squad, therefore players not being used to playing with each other and perhaps using structure from their clubs rather than what they are being coached. I would disagree on this point, France have picked players from 10 different club teams this tournament. In comparison, England named 11, so did Scotland (although they have had multiple changes down to injury, prior to the tournament it was nine) and Wales had 10, Italy named six and Ireland four. So, you can see that picking players from the same team does not correlate to success. It just seems France do not have a strict system in place in terms of phase play and structure, which leads to them being extremely exciting or in contrast, absolutely dreadful.
It feels like we will say it forever, you just do not know what French team is going to turn up.