And so it begins… Today 1st February 2014 the RBS 6 Nations kicks off at 2.30pm with Wales defending their title and playing for a record 3 consecutive RBS trophies. And you know what, they just might do it!
After much of the side being instrumental on the Lions Tour last summer and some encouraging performances in the Autumn International Dove Mens Series against the Southern Hemisphere sides, Wales return to full strength (minus Jon Davies) with Sam Warburton and Jamie Roberts back fit and ready to do battle (the Sam starts on the bench today against Italy).
I don’t really watch much sport and I never spend my Saturday or Sunday afternoon in the pub or at a ground – but for 5 weekends a year I am glued to the TV (or pub screen for a big game) for the 6 Nations. Filling my time before the game is challenge. i suspect the wife will hand me a duster or a basket of washing to do at some point… Today the sun is shining and I am going to occupy myself writing a few blog posts and giving the bikes a once over before deciding which one to ride tomorrow, as I lead a short MB Swindon ride to the historic stone circle at Avebury. The sun will encourage a few out, but it’s going to be muddy.
Anyway, back to the rugby and predictions for the weekend.
Ireland v Scotland – I can’t see this being anything but a win for Ireland at the Aviva Stadium. 15 points clear I reckon.
France v England – Both teams will want to win and believe they can win. The fact that the game is in Paris will edge France I think. Though as we are constantly reminded by the pundits “we don’t know which French side will turn up”… A tight game, France by 5 points.
Wales v Italy – The game that on paper every side knows they can and should win, but arguably the game that each side dreads the most. “Are we the team they are gonna upset this year?” A buoyant Wales in Cardiff should run in half a dozen tries so my Welsh heart says a 25 point clear victory.
Here’s Leigh Halfpenny’s thoughts on the match today.
There, I already killed 15 mins. 4 and half hours to go until kick off!
On the 4th of February I commented that it was all about the points difference… Well how true has that become?!
Tomorrow in Cardiff will be the 2013 RBS 6 Nations decider and for Wales to retain the title they will need to beat England by 8 points – though there are a few permutations that can result in a victory for either side:
- An England victory by any margin would secure a first GRAND SLAM triumph in a decade.
- An England defeat by six points or fewer would be enough for ENGLAND TO WIN THE TITLE.
- If England lose by seven points but outscore Wales by three tries or more, ENGLAND WIN THE TITLE.
- A Wales victory by seven points or more, providing they stay ahead of England on tournament tries (7 to 5 so far), would see WALES RETAIN THE TITLE.
- If Wales win by seven points but England score two more tries, then the TITLE WOULD BE SHARED.
My predictions are as follows:
Wales will beat England, and by the required 8 points – just. The pressure is all on England and Wales can count on a huge home-coming welcome after 3 victories away on the road. if England get a “comfortable” lead they will sit on it and the game could get a little slow. But as Wales try to punch through the defence there could be penalties and Leigh Halfpenny can kick them from most places in Cardiff! The atmosphere is going to be amazing in Cardiff, I only wish I was going.
I think Italy will finished on a high note and after their convincing performance against England last week I believe they will beat Ireland in Rome. Only just, but they will win. Ireland haven’t convinced since the first half against Wales in the opening weekend and think the Azurri will kill off their tournament tomorrow.
Which leaves Scotland and France in Paris! Both teams have stuttered but the age old question of “which French side will turn up?” will be answered tomorrow and the side will be the one that can play with flair and passion and Scotland who will think they have a shot at a faltering and not yet winning France will be knocked sideways. I fancy a 10 point margin tomorrow evening to France as they go out to prove they can play rugby with our without support from their nation..
It’s all about the points difference…
Italy 23 v 18 France
Italy rocked the rugby world and the 6 Nations on Sunday by beating the favourites France in a nail-biting opening game in Rome to win 23-18. In pre-tournament talk the Italians indicated they had something to offer this year and they certainly delivered yesterday at the Stadio Olimpico. They go to Murrayfield next week to take on Scotland who for a few minutes on Saturday looked capable of scoring but eventually crumbled under a strong England performance at Twickenham.
Scotland v Italy Prediction – A tight game with Italy eventually winning by a small margin. Similar score to the French game.
England 38 v 18 Scotland
England lived up to the hype and delivered a composed 4 try performance at home (Twickenham) against an ever hopeful Scotland. There were a few moments and 2 tries from Scotland but discipline was their ultimate undoing and 4 penalties added another 12 points to the score tally. Owen Farrell is rapidly growing into a world-class no 10. Next week England travel to Dublin for what many think is the early tournament (Grand Slam even) decider.
Ireland v England Prediction – A blistering game with a host of tries and England winning by a clear 10 points.
Wales 22 v 30 Ireland
Wales, what have you done? Ireland slipped in a quick try and were 3-30 just after half time with it looking like they were going to score a half century! Then something clicked. The slow ball from the forwards and half backs started to come out a bit quicker and what I think is still the best set of backs in the tournament were released and Wales began to score. Ireland were on the back foot, under pressure but ultimately holding on. 3 tries from Wales wasn’t enough and they were left with 4 minutes to go and 2 scores needed. It was a great second half but Wales should have put the game to bed when 2 yellow cards for Ireland for pivotal players in Rory Best and Conor Murray left them down to 14 men for a quarter of the game. Must try harder next week boys.
Next week is a trip to Paris! “Which French team will turn up?” the usual question and the whole of France and Wales will be expecting a different side to the one that went to Rome…
France v Wales Prediction – I can’t call it… Both teams need to win with so much to prove and so many demons to exorcise. Hate to say it but I think France will edge it.
Wales just need to keep the points difference down to a minimum if we are to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon – the battle for which could well be in Scotland on the 9th March.
This is not how it was supposed to be.
Today’s post should have been an exciting review of the start of Wales’ 6 Nations campaign and how against all the odds we are on track again for another Grand Slam. Well it didn’t go that we’ll, at least the first half didn’t. 30 points down at one point, 30-3 I think it was just minutes into the second half as Ireland got their 3rd try. It was all over…
Or was it…?
Yes it was, but not before Wales managed to score a few tries and dominate the half. It was a superb display and twist in the tale, but a dogged Irish defence prevented the dream finish and we were left with 5 minutes on the clock and we needed 8 points, ie we needed to score twice. It didn’t happen.
Then flashes of inspiration as Wales threw everything hey had at the game turned the second half into a confidence and belief restoring 30 minutes or so and although we lost and we have 3 games on the road that we can approach with all to play for and something to prove.
Add to that the fact that Ireland weren’t as dominating as everyone expected and England had some shaky moments against Scotland and the tournament is still all to play for.
I put new tyres on my bike today too… 2.0 Specialized Storm Control for cutting through mud and getting a grip on the sloppy stuff. Tomorrow will see me give them a test.
I can’t really say much more than tomorrow is a huge day for Welsh rugby.
At 1.30 pm tomorrow Wales play Ireland in the first game of the 2013 RBS 6 Nations, and its a big one.
Wales enter the fray as the underdog and this time it’s gonna be tough…