Well my fellow G&GRians it looks like you’re stuck with me for another week. Round 1 of the 6Ns made history, sort of. The first week I all the away teams won, but with Ireland and France I suppose that was to be expected. The Irish had their game won after 30 mins. The Scots deserved their win helped by the SDs shite defence and a dreadful kicking game. The Italians were a revelation taking to the French with, shock horror, running rugby. I don’t think Galthie expected that but the French responded in kind and it was the game of the round imo. So what to expect this weekend? Let’s crack on.
Ireland v France
This should be the match of the 6Ns, the winner should go on to make it a Grand Slam. Ireland have lost their livewire hooker Dan Sheehan but are otherwise unchanged. The French run on XV is unchanged but they’ve tinkered with the bench a bit. Ireland should take this one with home advantage but will the match produce fireworks or will it be a damp squib played out by two teams afraid to lose.
Ireland: A Porter (Leinster), R Herring (Ulster), F Bealham (Connacht), T Beirne (Munster), J Ryan (Leinster), P O’Mahony (Munster), J Van Der Flier (Leinster), C Doris (Leinster), C Murray (Munster), J Sexton (Leinster, capt), J Lowe (Leinster), S McCloskey (Ulster), G Ringrose (Leinster), M Hansen (Connacht), H Keenan (Leinster).
Replacements: R Kelleher (Leinster), D Kilcoyne (Munster), T O’Toole (Ulster), I Henderson (Ulster), J Conan (Leinster), C Casey (Munster), R Byrne (Leinster), B Aki (Connacht).
France: C Baille (Toulouse), J Marchand (Toulouse), U Atonio (La Rochelle), T Flament (Toulouse), P Willemse (Montpellier), A Jelonch (Toulouse), C Ollivon (Toulon), G Alldritt (La Rochelle), A Dupont (Toulouse, capt), R Ntamack (Toulouse), E Dumortier (Lyon), Y Moefana (Bordeaux), G Fickou (Racing 92), D Penaud (Clermont), T Ramos (Toulouse).
Replacements: G Barlot (Castres), R Wardi (La Rochelle), S Falatea (Bordeaux), R Taofifenua (Lyon), F Cros (Toulouse), S Macalou (Stade Francais), B Couilloud (Lyon), M Jalibert (Bordeaux).
Ref: Wayne Barnes (RFU)
Scotland v Wales
Well, well. Gats is not afraid to swing the axe. Out go Thomas, Francis, AWJ, Faletau and Tuperic, all forwards. I suppose it had to happen given the lacklustre performance against the Irish. The backline is the same. Zander Fagerson returns to the Scots starting line up replacing W P Nel who returns to the bench. The Scots will be on a high after beating the Old Enemy and the good money would be on them adding the scalp of the Welsh but rugby is a funny old game. Still it’s a win for the kilted warriors for me.
Wales: W Jones, Owens (c), Lewis, Jenkins, Beard, Tshiunza, Reffell, Morgan, T Williams, Biggar, Dyer, Hawkins, North, Adams, L Williams.
Replacements: Baldwin, Carre, Brown, Davies, Faletau, Webb, Patchell, Cuthbert.
Scotland: Schoeman, Turner, Z Fagerson, R Gray, Gilchrist, Ritchie (c), Crosbie, M Fagerson, White, Russell, van der Merwe, Tuipulotu, Jones, Steyn, Hogg.
Replacements: Brown, Bhatti, Nel, J Gray, Dempsey, Horne, Kinghorn, Harris
Ref: Andrew Brace (IRFU)
England v Italy
Borthwick has brought a young gun, Arundell, into the squad and Slade is back, but, will he move Farrell to 10 and bring Slade in at 12? I’m looking for a better performance from the England pack while it looks like Jack Willis could replace Ben Curry on the flank and there’s talk of Isiekwe coming in at lock and Chessum moving to 6. Itoje needs a big game otherwise he could be on borrowed time. At least the SDs will know what to expect from a rejuvenated Italian side. They held the French pack at scrum time, have a more than decent back row and a backline not afraid to run the ball.
The SDs are staring down the barrel of a gun. Lose this one and it could be wooden spoon time. Much as I want an England win I actually wouldn’t mind a loss just to show the fuqwits at the RFU what a bunch of tossers they are. Still hoping for the SDs to make a few team changes and an improved performance.
England: Genge, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Chessum, Ludlam, Willis, Dombrandt, van Poortvliet, Farrell, Hassell-Collins, Lawrence, Slade, Malins, Steward.
Replacements: Walker, Vunipola, Cole, Isiekwe, Earl, Mitshell, Smith, Arundell.
Italy: Cannone, Lamaro, Negri, Ruzza, Cannone, Riccioni, Nicotera, Fischetti, Varney, Allan, Menoncello, Morisi, Bex, Padovani, Capuozzo.
Replacements: Bigi, Zani, Ferrari, Iachizzi, Polledri, Zuliani, Fusco, Bruno.
Ref: James Doleman (NZR) (Charlie edit – *sigh*…. this is why I’m tipping Italy)