2017 RBS Six Nations Championship.

Discussion in 'Sports' started by Swami, Feb 2, 2017.

  1. Swami

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    It's that time of year again, it all kicks off at Murrayfield on Saturday (Scotland v Ireland).

    Ireland looking in good shape. Hopefully both Ireland and Scotland can do well over the next few weeks.

    Swami
     
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    2017 Six Nations: Scotland 27-22 Ireland
    [​IMG]
    By Tom English

    BBC Scotland at Murrayfield

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    Reaction: Schmidt rues Ireland missed chances
    Clinical Scotland punish Irish errors
    This was an absolute firecracker of a Test match, a classic of its kind. It got off to a thunderous start and rarely let up. The portents for the Scots were not good in the early minutes when their scrum came under heavy attack and started shipping penalties at an alarming rate, but their game-breakers soon came to prominence and set Murrayfield alight.

    Scotland were clinical, seizing on uncharacteristic Irish errors. When they applied pressure in the visitors' 22 and Garry Ringrose unwisely came out of the defensive line, Hogg went outside him and through for the opening score.

    The Scots weathered an Irish backlash and hit them with another score just after the first quarter.

    [​IMG]
    Stuart Hogg became Scotland's highest Six Nations try-scorer - on nine - with his brace of tries
    Zander Fagerson forced a turnover on the floor and Scotland went from there. From a line-out, Finn Russell, standing flat to the advantage line, found Huw Jones, who sent Hogg away. The full-back dummied Rob Kearney to go over and Laidlaw made it 14-0 with the conversion.

    Ireland responded and got reward for waves of pressure when Earls went over, but that only galvanised Scotland to get a third try. And it was a thing of wonder. A beautiful crossfield kick from Russell forced Simon Zebo into conceding the line-out.

    The Scottish line-out then pulled the canniest trick in the book, front-loading it with three backs - Laidlaw, Tommy Seymour and Dunbar.

    Ireland didn't think for one second that Ross Ford's throw was going to one of them, but it did. He threw it flat to Dunbar who, surreally, went through a gap to score.

    Laidlaw's conversion made it 21-5, Jackson's penalty reducing the deficit to 21-8 just before the break.

    Irish onslaught turns the tide
    The second half was utterly extraordinary. Ireland mobilised their troops in a very major way. They owned the ball for vast sections of the half, Henderson scoring after monumental pressure finally broke through incredible Scottish resistance.

    Ireland came again, with power and intent. Conor Murray broke free and linked with Jamie Heaslip but the outstanding Ryan Wilson, with help from a Sean Maitland interception, snuffed out the danger.

    Next, Maitland's tackle forced Kearney to put a foot in touch on the right wing, denying Earls a second try.

    In the midst of the onslaught, Jonny Gray was a defensive rock. A total colossus. When Irishmen went down in the tackle it was normally Gray who put him there.

    Not even Gray and his army of heavy-hitters could stop Ireland from scoring again, however. They were making yards and finding holes against a seemingly tiring Scotland and Jackson stretched to score and then converted his own try.


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    Ireland coach Joe Schmidt rues a number of missed second-half chances
    'Sheer delirium' after late twist
    Ireland were ahead for the first time; 21-20 after 62 minutes.

    Scotland's goose looked cooked, but these players have learned some lessons on the road to this victory, some bitter lessons from matches that should have been won but were lost in the closing minutes.

    Roles were reversed here. From somewhere, Scotland summoned grunt and control and won a penalty that Laidlaw fired over to put them back in the lead. They kicked on, controlling the ball, looking after it like it was a new-born babe. Ireland couldn't get near it.

    The last act was another penalty from the captain, boomed over against a backdrop of sheer delirium.

    This was Scotland's biggest victory in 18 years, since they were champions in 1999. Nobody will be thinking about trophies, but Scotland have momentum - and history.

    Paris next, with a mighty spring in the step.

    Match stats
    Scotland
    Ireland
    41% Possession 59%
    37% Territory 63%
    1 (0) Scrums won (lost) 5 (0)
    10 (2) Line-outs won (lost) 12 (2)
    9 Pens conceded 7
    103 (2) Rucks/mauls won (lost) 153 (5)
    24 Kicks from hand 25
    231 (32) Tackles made (missed) 115 (8)
    291 Metres made 485
    4 Offloads 6
    4 Line breaks 12
    TEAM LINE-UPS:

    Scotland: Hogg; Maitland, Jones, Dunbar, Seymour; Russell, Laidlaw (capt); Dell, Brown, Fagerson, R Gray, J Gray, Wilson, Watson, Strauss

    Replacements: Ford (for Brown, blood 5-11, then 27), Reid (for Dell, 56), Berghan, Swinson (for Strauss, 65), Barclay (for Watson, 49), Price, Weir (temp for Russell, 46-52), Bennett (for Jones, 60)

    Ireland: Kearney; Earls, Henshaw, Ringrose, Zebo; Jackson, Murray; McGrath, Best (capt), Furlong, Henderson, Toner, Stander, O'Brien, Heaslip

    Replacements: Scannell, Healy (for McGrath, 56), Ryan (for Furlong, 69), Dillane (for Henderson, 64), Van der Flier (for O'Brien, 66), Marmion, Keatley, Bowe (for Earls, 68).

    MATCH OFFICIALS:

    Referee: Romain Poite (France)

    Touch judges: Jaco Peyper (South Africa) and Nick Briant (New Zealand)

    TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)

    Swami
     
  3. Swami

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    Six Nations 2017: Scotland defy the natural order to down Ireland
    [​IMG]
    By Tom English

    BBC Scotland

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    sounding-off about the Scots and what he would like Ireland to do to them. "I hope we hammer them," he said. "Too mouthy, but they can't back it up."

    Where exactly O'Gara was getting the 'too mouthy' thing from is unclear - in his playing days Munster were not above inventing slights from the opposition just to get themselves angry - but the former Ireland fly-half had a bit of an irony bypass in that moment. Mouthiness was always part of O'Gara's make-up, one of the things that made him a terrific player. Pot met kettle and together they came up with a line that was embarrassingly wide of the mark. Whatever 'it' was in O'Gara's head, Scotland most definitely backed it up. Famously and unforgettably.

    This was a day when Scottish nerves were toyed with, a day when the heart threatened to jump out the chest such was the drama on the field. From the low of the opening minutes when Scotland's scrum came under heavy, penalty-laden fire, to the high of that first score from Stuart Hogg, it was an epic contest.



    Scotland defended brilliantly, chaotically, passionately. And they were clinical. They took their chances and Ireland didn't. Their points-to-possession ratio was incredible. The Scots have become ruthless - and it's a revelation.

    For many years Scotland have tormented themselves with their inability to convert chances. It's been painful. Almost two decades of fingernails being dragged down a blackboard. Before Vern Cotter turned up and changed things you could have polled the Scottish fans about what they expected to see first - (a) the whereabouts of Cleopatra's tomb (b) the location of the Ark of the Covenant or (c) the creation of a slick Scottish attack and most would have gone for (a) or (b) but never (c).

    The soft touch years look to be over. Maybe that was part of what bothered O'Gara. He rarely griped when Scotland turned up and lost. Scotland were patronised half to death in those days. They won ball, they attacked, they created chances and they never took them. And they lost. And lost. And lost.

    [​IMG]
    Hogg's two first-half tries set Scotland on the road to victory
    Now they know how to win. Patience and precision for the first try, a great Zander Fagerson turnover and a superb lineout take from Richie Gray in the lead-up to the second.

    And the third was rugby's equivalent of a three-card trick. Glorious subterfuge. Two years ago, in the final day mauling that saw Ireland win a second straight Six Nations title, Joe Schmidt's team worked a clever play off a lineout that brought a try for Sean O'Brien. Scotland were susceptible to sucker punches back then. They're more streetwise now. There's a canniness in the team that hasn't been there since 1999, the year they last won the championship. Fagerson was three years old at the time.

    It wasn't just five points that Ireland lost with that Alex Dunbar try off the lineout, it was a bit of professional pride. The great conquerors of New Zealand in Chicago had been out-foxed. The master had been schooled.

    Jonny Gray is a great case study in all of this. The 22-year-old has a head full of memories of watching Scotland on days like Saturday. As a boy, he never saw his country win a Grand Slam and can't remember them ever being contenders. He'd only just turned five when they last won a championship. He was still in primary school when they last won three games in the Six Nations.

    [​IMG]
    British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland was in attendance as several Scotland players impressed
    Other 22-year-olds from Ireland, Wales, England and France could regale you with stories of how they were inspired to play the game after seeing their national heroes win silverware. Garry Ringrose, the Irish centre, is the same age as Gray, but has seen his country win a Slam and two Six Nations titles and his province win three European Cups.

    Gray has had none of that. On his route to the top he's witnessed wooden spoons and despair. Having failed to watch history as a kid, he's now trying to create it as a man.

    The second-row made 27 tackles and carried 14 times in this seismic victory over Ireland, but, as good as he was, let's not make this all about Gray when this win was about all of them. The bare statistics are sharp enough to take your eye out. Scotland ceded 58% possession and 62% territory to Ireland on Saturday and in the process they had to make 242 tackles.

    That's such a stratospherically high number that it's hard to get the head around. Maybe once every championship, or every other championship, a team (Italy) might make 200 tackles in a match, but they always get hammered. Last season Italy had to made 200 against Ireland but they lost 58-15. The year before they made 245 against Ireland and lost 46-7. Teams don't tend to make that amount of tackles and win. It's not supposed to happen. It defies the natural order.

    [​IMG]
    Jonny Gray is congratulated by Vern Cotter on a display that featured 27 tackles and 14 carries
    That's what happened at Murrayfield, though. Gray with his 27 tackles, his relentless big brother, Richie, with 23, the outstanding Hamish Watson with 19 despite playing for only 48 minutes, Ross Ford also with 19 even though he didn't start the game. Ryan Wilson's work-rate was phenomenal and he made 17 tackles, so did the non-stop Fagerson, so did Dunbar. Josh Strauss had 16. Allan Dell got targeted in the scrum but he made 14 tackles.

    The numbers were ridiculous. Of the game's top-10 tacklers, nine of them were Scottish. That's an illustration of the pressure the home team was under and a glowing tribute to the steel that made the win possible.

    This was not the Ireland of the autumn. The elan of Chicago and Dublin in November didn't make it to Edinburgh in February. This was a step back a few years when Ireland, under Joe Schmidt, sought to win by attrition, by bullying opponents into submission.

    What made it a thriller was the Scottish suffering, the fear of it all going wrong again and the brilliance of the endgame. When Paddy Jackson stretched for the line and scored the try and then kicked the conversion that put Ireland ahead with 17 minutes left on the clock a silence fell over the stadium, save for the celebrating Irish.


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    Italy's hand in 2015 and against France in 2014. All in the last minutes, all the detail burned into the soul of the Scottish rugby people as if applied with a branding iron.

    With a dozen minutes left to play, Ireland's sharks were circling the waters again, still making errors, still playing a conservative game of battering ram and not a lot else but looking to all the world that they would get the try that would have completed the kill. They had seemingly overcome Scotland's rapier thrusts in the opening half. They had apparently got a handle on their own deficiencies, of which there were many.

    Scotland lifted one siege, through John Barclay, then coughed up lineout ball and promptly lifted another. Like a fighter coming off the ropes, the Scots moved downfield, put a penalty to touch, stayed cool and accurate and got their noses back in front.

    [​IMG]
    Conor Murray is left frustrated as Scotland repel another Ireland attack
    On 75 minutes, CJ Stander got the ball in his hands again. He had carried more than 20 times by that point and here he was carrying again, hoping to take his team in range for a penalty or a drop-goal that would rescue things. Stander had barely got up a head of steam when he was battered by a double hit from Gordon Reid and Wilson.

    The number eight spilled it forward. The sight of Stander coughing up ball is like Kryptonite to Ireland's confidence. Scotland fed off it. They went down the other end, waited for Ireland to lose their head and then punished them with that last penalty. Greig Laidlaw put it over and then spread his arms out wide in celebration of the final whistle.

    On a day that threw up so many memorable images, the one of Laidlaw drinking in the noise of the crowd stood out. So did a late night tweet from O'Gara. "Congratulations. Well deserved. Better team won." On that, there can be no argument.

    Swami
     
  4. Swami

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    Six Nations: England beat France 19-16 to start title defence with win
    [​IMG]
    By Tom Fordyce

    Chief sports writer at Twickenham

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    The win saw the team pass the record of 14 straight victories set by Sir Clive Woodward's men in the run-up to their 2003 World Cup win, and means they are only three wins away from equalling the all-time record set by New Zealand last year.

    It also extended France's dismal run in this fixture to six successive defeats on the road, yet the men in blue were transformed from the stodgy outfit of recent memory, and England will be hugely relieved to have found a way through.


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    Victory over France secures a record breaking 15th straight victory for England
    What is the pundit's view?
    Matt Dawson, 2003 World Cup winner: France were better than England in a lot of areas, but the strength of this England side was in their fitness and ability to play under pressure.

    I have got to give huge credit to the substitutions for England because they were the difference in the end.

    Team details
    England: Brown; May, Joseph, Farrell, Daly; Ford, Youngs; Marler, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Lawes, Itoje, Wood, Hughes.

    Replacements: Te'o for Ford (69), Care for Youngs (66), Mullan for Marler (66), George for Hartley (55), Haskell for Launchbury (64), Nowell for Joseph (69)

    Not Used: Sinckler, Harrison

    Sin Bin: May (13).

    France: Spedding; Nakaitaci, Lamerat, Fickou, Vakatawa; Lopez, Serin; Baille, Guirado, Atonio, Vahaamahina, Maestri, Chouly, Gourdon, Picamoles.

    Replacements: Huget for Lamerat (72), Doussain for Lopez (72), Machenaud for Serin (57), Slimani for Baille (46), Maynadier for Guirado (72), Chiocci for Atonio (46), Iturria for Vahaamahina (72), Goujon for Chouly (64).

    Match stats
    England
    France
    50% Possession 50%
    57% Territory 43%
    6 (1) Scrums won (lost) 9 (0)
    15 (1) Line-outs won (lost) 9 (2)
    8 Pens conceded 15
    79 (0) Rucks/mauls won (lost) 80 (3)
    33 Kicks from hand 25
    99 (24) Tackles made (missed) 85 (13)
    383 Metres made 591
    10 Offloads 17
    5 Line breaks 10
    Swami
     
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    Six Nations 2017: Italy 7-33 Wales
    By Richard Williams

    BBC Wales Sport

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    Wales almost claimed the tournament's first every try bonus point when wing Williams just failed to touch down as the clock ticked past 80 minutes.

    Italy led at half-time, but just as Parisse had feared in his pre-match news conference, fell off the pace in the last 20 minutes and paid a heavy price.

    Leigh Halfpenny kicked three conversions and four penalties for his 18-point tally.

    Possession does not equal points
    Wales' ambition saw them turn down three kickable penalties in a dominant opening 20 minutes, but they failed to score a point despite 80% possession.

    And with referee JP Doyle disinclined to issue warnings let alone a yellow card for repeat infringements, Italy weathered the storm and then showed a more ruthless cutting edge when their chance came.

    [​IMG]
    British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland watched as Wales faced Italy in Rome
    Parisse was alternately deft and a powerhouse as he set up the attack and then orchestrated the rolling maul that led to scrum-half Edoardo Gori touching down between the posts.

    Halfpenny, having missed an early chance, finally had Wales on the scoreboard in the 36th minute when he nailed a penalty as the hosts took a 7-3 lead into the changing rooms at the break.

    Pragmatism pays off
    After the interval Wales were in no mood to turn down the points as Halfpenny punished continuing Italian indiscipline with three penalties before Lovotti pushed Mr Doyle's patience past breaking point.

    When replacement fly-half Sam Davies showed the quick hands that have earned him his Wales call, Scott Williams was able to send Davies over, and Williams' try followed quickly.

    Freed of the shackles of having to win the game, Wales showed ambition and skill where they had previously been patient in the face of remorseless defence.

    [​IMG]
    Edoardo Gori scored the opening try for Italy - but the hosts could not add to that score
    With their scrum bolstered by the arrival of Rob Evans and Tomas Francis from the bench, the visitors finished well on top.

    But they have a lot to think about and work on in the six-day turnaround before England arrive in Cardiff.

    And it is unlikely they will be on the right end of a 16-5 penalty count on that day.

    Man of the match:
    It could have been Sergio Parisse, but the accuracy of Leigh Halfpenny's boot and his counter-attacking late in the game earned him the nod.

    What is the pundit's view?
    Jonathan Davies, former Wales dual-code stand-off and captain: "As expected it was a tough game and a brutal first 60 minutes. They absorbed that and then went on to score a couple of great tries and win comfortably.

    "There were a few problems - namely the slow ball movement but by the end the Italians didn't have enough."

    Italy: 15-Edoardo Padovani; 14-Giulio Bisegni, 13-Tommaso Benvenuti, 12-Luke McLean 11-Giovanbattista Venditti; 10-Carlo Canna, 9-Edoardo Gori; 1-Andrea Lovotti, 2-Ornel Gega, 3-Lorenzo Cittadini, 4-Marco Fuser, 5-George Biagi, 6-Abraham Steyn, 7-Maxime Mata M'Banda, 8-Sergio Parisse (captain)

    Replacements: 16-Leonardo Ghiraldini for Gega (47), 17-Sami Panico, 18-Pietro Ceccarelli for Cittadini (59), 19-Joshua Furno for Fuser (41), 20-Francesco Minto, 21-Giorgio Bronzini for Gori (63), 22-Tommaso Allan for Canna (69), 23-Michele Campagnaro Benvenuti (53),

    Not Used: Panico, Minto.

    Sin Bin: Lovotti (60).

    Wales: 15-Leigh Halfpenny; 14-George North, 13-Jonathan Davies, 12-Scott Williams, 11-Liam Williams; 10-Dan Biggar, 9-Rhys Webb; 1-Nicky Smith, 2-Ken Owens, 3-Samson Lee, 4-Jake Ball, 5-Alun Wyn Jones (captain); 6-Sam Warburton, 7-Justin Tipuric, 8-Ross Moriarty

    Replacements: 16-Scott Baldwin, 17-Rob Evans for Smith (50), 18-Tomas Francis for Lee (50), 19-Cory Hill Hill for Ball (63), 20-James King for Moriarty (74)., 21-Gareth Davies for Webb (74), 22-Sam Davies (for Biggar, 40), 23-Jamie Roberts for S Williams (74).

    Not Used: Baldwin

    Referee: JP Doyle (England)

    Touch judges: Johnny Lacey (Ireland) & Craig Maxwell-Keys (England)

    TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

    Match stats
    Italy
    Wales
    39% Possession 61%
    38% Territory 62%
    7 (0) Scrums won (lost) 7 (1)
    7 (2) Line-outs won (lost) 13 (0)
    16 Pens conceded 5
    62 (3) Rucks/mauls won (lost) 100 (1)
    29 Kicks from hand 42
    140 (22) Tackles made (missed) 97 (17)
    363 Metres made 458
    3 Offloads 9
    3 Line breaks 7
    Swami
     
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    Six Nations: Italy 10-63 Ireland




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    Scotland defeat to earn a nine-try Six Nations win over Italy in Rome.

    Scrum domination helped the Irish take immediate control with the bonus point secured by the 35th minute as Stander and Keith Earls both notched two tries.

    Italy scored a first-half penalty try but for the most part were outclassed.


    After Stander completed his hat-trick on 46, replacement Gilroy repeated the feat with Garry Ringrose also scoring.

    South African-born Stander's third try meant he became the first Ireland player to score a Six Nations hat-trick since Brian O'Driscoll achieved the feat against Scotland in 2002.

    Ulster wing Gilroy then got in on the hat-trick act as he notched his three scores in an 11-minute period in the closing stages of the Stadio Olimpico contest.

    Ireland's victory was their biggest ever Six Nations win as the margin exceeded the 60-13 win over the Azzurri in 2000.

    Joe Schmidt's side achieved the victory despite being without skipper Rory Best who had to be replaced by debutant Niall Scannell because of a stomach upset.

    [​IMG]
    Keith Earls became only the third Ireland player to score tries in four successive internationals
    Fast Ireland start puts game out of Italy reach
    Conor O'Shea's Italy side contained Wales for over an hour in Rome last weekend before eventually succumbing 33-7 as Ireland's dreadful start at Murrayfield contributed massively to their defeat by the Scots.

    However, it was a very different story a week on as Ireland came out fired up and the Italians had no answer.

    A huge early shove by Cian Healy to force an early penalty off an Italian scrum set the tone as Ireland immediately attacked the opposition line.

    Sensing their superiority, Ireland opted for scrums off a series of penalties and the Italian dam inevitably burst in the 12th minute as Jackson's impressive long pass set up a simple finish for Munster wing Earls.


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    Ireland's Garry Ringrose scores his first try against Italy
    The Munster man's try meant that he joined Denis Hickie and Hugo McNeill in becoming the only Irish players to score tries in four successive internationals.

    With Earls' Munster team-mate Simon Zebo's dancing feet making him an even bigger threat on the opposite wing, the Irish continued to attack in waves.

    Zebo showed impressive passing skills to set up Stander's first try on 18 minutes and another change from the left winger laid the foundations for Earls' second try eight minutes later.

    While Sergio Parisse's line-out drive saw referee Glen Jackson award a penalty try in the 32nd minute, as Ireland lock Donnacha Ryan was sin-binned, it was a brief respite for the home side with Stander securing the first ever Six Nations winning bonus point five minutes before half-time.

    [​IMG]
    Craig Gilroy scored three tries in 11 minutes late on in Rome
    Ireland finish with a flourish after brief lull
    The second half was largely a tale of two hat-tricks as Stander completed his haul on 46 minutes by running unhindered from just outside Italy's 22, before replacement Gilroy's late salvo.

    With Gilroy among several Irish replacements in the third quartet, the visitors' play became disjointed for a time although the Italians were not good enough to profit.

    A dreadful Giovanbattista Venditti clearance was punished by Gilroy charging in from distance in the 69th minute for his third international try.

    With Italian resolve long gone, Ringrose then sped right through the middle to score under the posts before Gilroy ran in two more touchdowns to complete his first international hat-trick.

    [​IMG]
    CJ Stander's three tries helped Ireland achieve the Six Nations' first ever try bonus-point victory
    Man of the match
    CJ Stander was the standout performer in a dominant display from the Ireland back row and his carrying was immense as he notched Ireland's first Six Nations hat-trick in 15 years.

    His performance came after criticism of Ireland's back-row display at Murrayfield.

    What does the coach think?
    Ireland coach Joe Schmidt: "We showed we can start well and that gives a platform to build on.

    "We know how good they can be. It was probably a bit of confidence to go out and do it.

    "There were a few guys making Six Nations and Test debuts so it's good for them to get those performances under the belt."

    "It's an open championship and people will be excited."

    Teams
    Italy: Padovani; Esposito, Benvenuti, Mclean, Venditti; Canna, Gori; Lovotti, Ghiraldini, Cittadini; Fuser, Van Schalkwyk; Mbanda, Favaro, Parisse (capt)

    Replacements: Gega for Ghiradini (47), Panico for Lovotti (64), Chistolini for Cittadini (41), Biagi for van Schalkwyk (47), Steyn for Favaro (57), Bronzini for Gori (61), Allan for Canna (71), Campagnaro for Benvenuti (49).

    Ireland: Kearney; Earls, Ringrose, Henshaw, Zebo; Jackson, Murray; Healy, Scannell, Furlong; D Ryan, Toner; Stander, O'Brien, Heaslip (capt).

    Replacements: Tracy for Scannell (63), McGrath for Healy (51), J Ryan for Furlong (54), Dillane for Toner (60), Van der Flier for O'Brien (69), Marmion for Murray (69), Keatley for Zebo (75), Gilroy for Henshaw (48).

    Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)

    Touch judges: Angus Gardner (Australia) & Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)

    TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

    Swami
     
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    Six Nations 2017: Joe Schmidt pleased with Ireland display in nine-try Rome win




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    63-10 hammering of Italy.

    To keep their title hopes alive, the Irish could afford no more slip-ups after their opening defeat in Scotland.

    "It was a good performance. We looked after the ball well and asked a fair bit of the Italians defensively," the Ireland coach told ITV Sport.


    "If you get the performance, you are more likely to get the result."

    After the concession of three first-half tries contributed massively to the Murrayfield defeat, Schmidt was pleased with his team's fast at the Stadio Olimpico as they went on to score nine tries.

    [​IMG]
    Conor O'Shea's Italy were no match for Joe Schmidt's Ireland
    Schmidt lauds 'Stander engine'
    Keith Earls and CJ Stander both scored two first-half tries to secure the Six Nations' first ever win bonus point with the flanker going on to complete a hat-trick - a feat later matched by replacement Craig Gilroy.

    "We showed we can start well and that gives a platform to build on," added the Ireland coach.

    "The players felt that [they needed to make a statement]. We know how good they can be."

    Schmidt added that man of the match Stander's all-action display demonstrated the flanker's impressive work-rate.

    "CJ has got a fantastic engine. He just keeps working away."

    The Irish coach picked out Paddy Jackson's performance, as the Ulster fly-half again impressed in Johnny Sexton's absence.

    "I felt Paddy Jackson varied the game up really well."

    [​IMG]
    Garry Ringrose ran in Ireland's seventh try in Rome
    Coach delighted by Ringrose response
    Schmidt was also delighted with centre Garry Ringrose's try-scoring display after the Leinster youngster's nervous first half at Murrayfield.

    "I felt sorry for him in the first 20 or 30 [minutes] last week when he was in a Six Nations game for the first time and it probably freaked him a little bit.

    "But it's great that he built a bit of confidence from his second-half performance last week and I thought he was super today."

    Jamie Heaslip, who captained Ireland after Rory Best was ruled out by illness, felt the victory margin flattered the visitors as they notched four tries in the final 12 minutes.

    "The final score put a nice shine on it," said the number eight.

    O'Shea reflects on 'tough day'
    Italy coach Conor O'Shea admitted they had faced a team "better in every department than us".

    "It was a tough day," added the Italian boss, who played 35 times for Ireland.

    "In the first 20 minutes we took a battering. We talked about Ireland's ability to hold the ball through the phases, and the first 20 minutes took a physical and mental toll on us.

    "But we will never hang our heads. We have to get ready in one week's time and be focused for England at Twickenham."

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    Six Nations: Wales 16-21 England
    [​IMG]
    By Tom Fordyce

    Chief sports writer in Cardiff

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    English grit won us the game - Jones
    What did the pundits make of it?
    Ex-Wales fly-half Jonathan Davies on BBC One: "I felt that England looked far more threatening with ball in hand. When the opportunity came, they took it. They were so clinical in the opportunities they had."

    Ex-England hooker Brian Moore on BBC One: "It shows again that if you do not put this England side away when you are on top they will make you pay. They were outplayed for long periods but when it came down to taking the opportunity from a poor Welsh kick, they found a way to win."

    Team details
    Wales: Halfpenny; North, J Davies, S Williams, L Williams; Biggar, Webb; Evans, Owens, Francis, Ball, AW Jones, Warburton, Tipuric, Moriarty.

    Replacements: Roberts for S Williams (71), G Davies for Webb (65), Smith for Evans (53), Baldwin for Owens (60), Lee for Francis (53), Hill for Tipuric (78), Faletau for Moriarty (53).

    Not Used: S Davies.

    England: Brown; Nowell, Joseph, Farrell, Daly; Ford, Youngs; Marler, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Lawes, Itoje, Clifford, Hughes.

    Replacements: May for Nowell (71), Te'o for Joseph (65), Care for Youngs (65), Mullan for Marler (71), George for Hartley (46), Sinckler for Cole (71), Haskell for Clifford (49).

    Not Used: Wood.

    Ref: Jerome Garces (France).

    Match stats
    Wales
    England
    50% Possession 50%
    52% Territory 48%
    2 (1) Scrums won (lost) 7 (0)
    8 (1) Line-outs won (lost) 9 (0)
    10 Pens conceded 6
    122 (2) Rucks/mauls won (lost) 113 (5)
    19 Kicks from hand 24
    181 (16) Tackles made (missed) 127 (18)
    328 Metres made 376
    4 Offloads 12
    8 Line breaks 6

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    Six Nations: France 22-16 Scotland




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    [​IMG]
    Gael Fickou's converted try put France 13-5 ahead
    Six Nations: France v Scotland
    France: (13) 22
    Tries: Fickou Con: Lopez Pens: Lopez 5
    Scotland: (11) 16
    Tries: Hogg, Swinson Pens: Russell 2
    Scotland's search for a first win in Paris since 1999 goes on after France bounced back from defeat at Twickenham with victory in a tense contest.

    Stuart Hogg's 15th Test try gave the Scots an early lead but Gael Fickou's try put France 13-5 clear before two Finn Russell penalties made it 13-11.

    Tim Swinson's try regained the lead for the injury-hit visitors before Camille Lopez's third penalty tied it at 16-16.


    Remi Lamerat had a try ruled out before two late Lopez kicks sealed victory.

    Scotland suffered a host of injuries, captain Greig Laidlaw forced off with an ankle injury and John Barclay, Barclay's own replacement John Hardie and Fraser Brown all departing with head knocks.

    They will also rue two simple missed conversions, one from Laidlaw and one from Russell in front of the posts, after the ball flopped off the tee during his run-up.

    Scotland must now re-group for the visit of Wales on 25 February, while France head to Dublin to face Ireland on the same day.

    More to follow.

    TEAM LINE-UPS:
    France: 15-Scott Spedding; 14-Noa Nakaitaci, 13-Remi Lamerat, 12-Gael Fickou, 11-Virimi Vakatawa; 10-Camille Lopez, 9-Baptiste Serin; 1-Cyril Baille, 2-Guilhem Guirado (captain), 3-Uini Atonio (La Rochelle), 4-Sebastien Vahaamahina, 5-Yoann Maestri, 6-Loann Goujon, 7-Kevin Gourdon, 8-Louis Picamoles,

    Replacements: 16-Christopher Tolofua (for Guirado, 79), 17-Rabah Slimani (for Atonio, 46) 18-Xavier Chiocci (for Baille, 59), 19-Julian Le Devedec (for Maestri, 59), 20-Damien Chouly (for Goujon, 60), 21-Maxime Machenaud (for Serin, 56), 22-Jean-Marc Doussain, 23-Yoann Huget (for Vakatawa, 53)

    Scotland: 15-Stuart Hogg, 14-Sean Maitland, 13-Huw Jones, 12-Alex Dunbar, 11-Tommy Seymour, 10-Finn Russell, 9-Greig Laidlaw (captain); 1-Allan Dell, 2-Fraser Brown, 3-Zander Fagerson, 4-Richie Gray, 5-Jonny Gray, 6-John Barclay, 7- Hamish Watson, 8-Josh Strauss.

    Replacements: 16-Ross Ford (for Brown, 66), 17-Gordon Reid (for Dell, 44), 18-Simon Berghan (for Fagerson, 59), 19-Tim Swinson (for Hardie, 41), 20-John Hardie (for Barclay, 37), 21-Alistair Price (for Laidlaw, 25), 22-Duncan Weir (for Russell, 75), 23-Mark Bennett (for Dunbar, 57-61).

    MATCH OFFICIALS
    Referee: Jaco Peyper (RSA)

    Touch judges: John Lacey (IRE) & Luke Pearce (ENG)

    TMO: Peter Fitzgibbon (IRE)

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    Six Nations 2017: Scotland 29-13 Wales
    [​IMG]
    By Tom English

    BBC Scotland at Murrayfield

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    Ireland's 19-9 win over France saw the Scots drop back to second. For Wales, though, it was a second loss in three matches in this year's campaign.

    [​IMG]
    It was compelling from the first whistle, a fire-cracker of a Test match, ferocious, error-strewn at times, but utterly fascinating all the way through.

    Russell and Halfpenny had traded penalties in the opening quarter before Wales made the first significant move.

    A free-kick at a scrum was tapped by the wonderful Rhys Webb, a whirling dervish at nine for the visitors. Wales' eye for the chance was quick and their execution was a delight. They came screaming across the field, Halfpenny putting Williams over in the left corner. Halfpenny then converted to put Wales precisely where they wanted to be - in the lead on the front foot.

    Scotland's resilient despite injuries
    Scotland then suffered another blow a minute later when John Hardie went off injured. Another injured body piled on top of the other injured bodies - Alasdair Dickinson and WP Nel, Sean Maitland and Duncan Taylor, Greig Laidlaw, their captain, and Josh Strauss, their principal back-row ball-carrier.

    [​IMG]
    Harlequins wing Tim Visser scored Scotland's second try and produced a dramatic try-saving tackle
    Their resilience, though, is astonishing. On came Hamish Watson, who was terrific as Scotland set sail. Russell made it 10-6 with the boot, before Halfpenny re-established the seven-point lead. It was the last time Wales troubled the scoreboard.

    Even before the break there were signs of the Scots stirring. Justin Tipuric had to pull off a fine tackle to keep Huw Jones out, but Russell at least gave them the consolation of three more points. A four-point game at the break. Scotland were a bit fortunate, but they kicked-on magnificently from there.

    Scotland add attacking flair
    Seymour's try electrified Murrayfield, Hogg's sweet delayed pass-and-give to Visser drew Halfpenny and created space for the Glasgow Warriors wing to go over. There was concern about obstruction earlier in the move but the try stood and so did the conversion after Russell's effort slapped off the inside of the post and obligingly fell over on the right side of the crossbar.

    Wales came again through Webb, but Ali Price, wonderful on his first start, pulled off a try-saving tackle. The visitors quickly became ragged. They ran into blue walls, each error, each big hit stripping them of their belief.

    [​IMG]
    Scotland skipper John Barclay believes the team are capable of beating England - but only if they are on their game
    Russell eased Scotland further clear just short of the hour; 19-13. Wales responded and once again they were repelled. It was Webb again, darting in at the corner only to be put in touch, just, by Visser, arguably playing the game of his life for Scotland.

    The Scots had more pressure to soak up, but soak it up they did. There was a desperate lack of invention in the Wales attacks, a predictability that Scotland absorbed before striking out themselves. And here, again, we saw the difference between the sides. Scotland had elan and skill and invention. Wales did not.

    Visser's score was a glorious illustration of it. Patience in the forwards through the phases and the ruthlessness when the chance arrived. Hogg's hands in delivering the try-scoring pass to the winger brought Murrayfield to its feet. Russell converted, then added another penalty and Scotland were home.

    Twenty unanswered points in the second half was a thunderous response from a Scottish team that can no longer be deemed improving or emerging. They've arrived. In the here and now, they are reborn.

    TEAM LINE-UPS
    Scotland: Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Huw Jones, Alex Dunbar, Tim Visser; Finn Russell, Ali Price (Henry Pyrgos 55); Ryan Wilson, John Hardie (Hamish Watson 24), John Barclay (capt); Johnny Gray, Richie Gray; Zander Fagerson, Fraser Brown (Ross Ford 70), Gordon Reid (Allan Dell, 51).

    Unused replacements: Simon Berghan, Tim Swinson, Duncan Weir, Mark Bennett.

    Wales: Leigh Halfpenny; George North, Jonathan Davies, Scott Williams (Jamie Roberts 62), Lee Williams; Dan Biggar (Sam Davies 67), Rhys Webb; Ross Moriarty (Taulupe Faletau 62), Justin Tipuric, Sam Warburton; Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Jake Ball (Luke Charteris 56); Tomas Francis (Samson Lee 51), Ken Owens (Scott Baldwin 67), Rob Evans (Nicky Smith 67).

    Unused replacement: Gareth Davies.

    MATCH OFFICIALS
    Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)

    Touch judges: JP Doyle (England) and Matthew Carley (England)

    TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

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    Six Nations 2017: Ireland 19-9 France
    By Richard Petrie

    BBC Sport NI at Aviva Stadium

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    [​IMG]
    Conor Murray's try gave Ireland a 7-6 half-time advantage
    Six Nations: Ireland v France
    Ireland (7) 19
    Try:
    Murray Con: Sexton Pens: Sexton 2, Jackson Drop-goal: Sexton
    France (6) 9
    Pens:
    Lopez 3
    Ireland kept their hopes of a third Six Nations title in four years alive by recovering from an early deficit to beat France in a bruising encounter.

    Two Camille Lopez penalties put France 6-0 up but Conor Murray's converted try edged Ireland into a one-point lead.

    Johnny Sexton added two penalties and a drop goal in a keenly contested second half, with Lopez and replacement Paddy Jackson trading late penalties.


    Sexton, back after injury, passed the 600-point mark in international rugby.

    Ireland move a point ahead of Scotland at the top of the table, with England's game at home to Italy to come on Sunday.

    Joe Schmidt's men, beaten in their first match in Scotland, have 10 points from their three matches and now face Wales away and England at home.

    France left the Aviva Stadium empty-handed to remain on five points and they next host Italy before a final-day trip to Cardiff.

    [​IMG]
    Johnny Sexton celebrates his well-taken drop-goal with Rob Kearney during the second half
    Ireland remain unbeaten at home in the Six Nations during the tenure of coach Joe Schmidt, a run stretching back to 2014, and they will go into their next game in Cardiff on 10 March with confidence.

    France displayed glimpses of the much-heralded revival under their coach Guy Noves but showed signs of tiredness throughout the second half and their hopes of a first championship success since 2010 are now surely over.

    Only once in the last 10 Six Nations meetings between these sides had the winning margin reached double digits, so Ireland will be happy to come away with a hard-fought win and deny their opponents a losing bonus point.

    Irish respond to early France flourish
    France began in intense fashion as they sought to carry through the momentum gained from their narrow defeat by England and morale-boosting success over Scotland.

    Their enterprising start was epitomised by an outrageous dummy by scrum-half Baptitse Serin, which almost yielded a try, while centre Remi Lamerat was only denied a score by a knock-on by his midfield partner Gael Fickou after Lopez's audacious cross-field kick had set up the chance.

    In the event, the visitors only had two Lopez penalties to show for their early dominance and it was Ireland who assumed control for the remainder of the half.

    The hosts were rewarded for their superiority in territory and possession when Robbie Henshaw made ground after a five-metre scrum and passed to man-of-the-match Murray, who dived over from close range for the only try of the game.

    Ireland should have gone in at half-time further ahead, but turned down a couple of kickable penalties in favour of kicking for the corner, while the French defended stoutly to keep their half-time arrears to a single point.

    France looked a more confident, settled and better prepared aside for periods in the first half, but despite their squad having enjoyed an accustomed break from Top 14 action last weekend, they were already showing signs of fatigue by the interval.

    [​IMG]
    Ireland remain unbeaten at hoe in the Six Nations under coach Joe Schmidt
    Irish inspired by returning Sexton
    It was Ireland who showed the greater purpose and spirit after the break, with fly-half Sexton defying the fact that he had been out of action through injury for the past five weeks, by pulling the strings and piling on the points.

    In the first half, the Leinster man converted Murray's try and almost created a try for himself when he kicked towards the corner after a fine Ireland wraparound move along the backs, only for wing Noa Nakaitaci to ground the ball first.

    The number 10's early second-half penalty was followed by an exquisite drop-goal, which brought the home supporters to their feet and the Aviva Stadium to life.

    A further penalty extended Ireland's advantage in a breathless second half and although the French put up some resistance, the hosts showed the greater resilience and, with the Ireland pack largely in control, the outcome never looked in doubt

    After Sexton was withdrawn to a rapturous reception, Lopez pulled France back to bonus-point range with his third penalty, but Jackson's kick with four minutes remaining ensured the Noves' side went home empty-handed and broken-hearted.

    Man of the match
    [​IMG]
    Ireland's experienced half-back partnership of Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton played a huge part in the victory and scrum-half Murray's try swung the man of the match award in his favour
    Ireland: Rob Kearney; Keith Earls, Robbie Henshaw, Garry Ringrose, Simon Zebo; Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray; Jack McGrath, Rory Best (captain), Tadhg Furlong, Donnacha Ryan, Devin Toner, CJ Stander, Sean O'Brien, Jamie Heaslip.

    Replacements: Niall Scannell, Cian Healy, John Ryan, Iain Henderson, Peter O'Mahony, Kieran Marmion, Paddy Jackson, Andrew Trimble

    France: Scott Spedding; Yoann Huget, Remi Lamerat, Gael Fickou, Noa Nakaitaci; Camille Lopez, Baptiste Serin; Curil Baille, Guilhem Guirado (captain), Rabah Slimani, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Yoann Maestri, Bernard Le Roux, Kevin Gourdon, Louis Picamoles.

    Replacements: Christopher Tolofua, Uini Atonio, Eddy Ben Arous, Julien le Devedec, Charles Ollivon, Maxime Machenaud, Henry Chavancy, Djibril Camara

    Match officials
    Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)

    Touch judges: Wayne Barnes (England) & Luke Pearce (England)

    TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

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    Six Nations 2017: England 36-15 Italy
    [​IMG]
    By Tom Fordyce

    Chief sports writer at Twickenham

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    [​IMG]
    Daly crossed for England's third try of the match
    Six Nations: England v Italy
    England (5) 36
    Tries:
    Cole, Care, Daly, Nowell (2), Te'o Con: Farrell 3
    Italy (10) 15
    Tries:
    Venditti, Campagnaro Con: Allan Drop goal: Allan
    England were given a huge scare by Italy before five second-half tries saw them extend their winning run to 17 matches.

    Italy had led 10-5 at half-time, a combination of an extraordinary tactic at the breakdown and the hosts' ineptitude threatening a huge upset.

    But two quick tries after the break from Danny Care and Elliot Daly calmed nerves, and although Michele Campagnaro's bullocking try made it 17-15 with 20 minutes remaining, another from Ben Te'o and two from replacement Jack Nowell saved England's blushes.


    Those tries meant Eddie Jones' men also picked up their bonus point, which may prove critical in the final championship standings.

    But this 10th successive Six Nations win felt anything but a celebration, Owen Farrell off-form on the occasion of his 50th cap and Jones' replacements once again required to come to their coach's rescue.

    Italy left points aplenty out on the field through a combination of missed kicks, and while a second consecutive Grand Slam remains a possibility for England, the visit of in-form Scotland in a fortnight's time now represents a serious threat.

    Old game, new tactic
    England had been completely thrown by Italy's novel tactic of not committing any men to the breakdown beyond the initial tackler, meaning no ruck was formed and so the offside became irrelevant.

    It meant Italian defenders could stand between England's half-backs, creating initial confusion both in white-shirted ranks and in the stands.

    Captain Dylan Hartley and James Haskell were both left asking referee Romain Poite to explain the laws of the game to them, the Frenchman testily telling them to ask their own coach.

    And only when England began to solve that problem by putting runners up the middle did they begin to get any sort of grip on a contest they had been expected to run away with.

    By the end, Jones's men were also utilising the same ploy, a strange sight on the strangest of afternoons at Twickenham.

    England stutter, Italy surprise
    England were not so much slow out of the blocks as asleep, repeatedly giving away penalties at the scrum and breakdown, while Farrell, Care and Ford all kicking poorly from hand.

    Had Italy kicked all their penalties - Allan missed two, and the others were sent into the corner - they could have led 12-0 after the opening quarter.

    Cole's try from a rolling maul came as a relief to a somnolent crowd, but Italy continued to dominate possession and territory, even as they spurned further shots at the posts and failed to capitalise from their attacking line-outs.

    But when Allan's penalty from bang in front on the stroke of half-time came back off the upright, wing Giovanbattista Venditti grabbed the loose ball and dived over, Allan's conversion making it 5-10.

    Tries flow as England find a way
    Jones had every reason to tear into his men at the interval, and within moments Care's quick tap penalty sent him slicing through the blue wall and into the corner.

    Daly then ran on to Te'o's well-timed pass to go over in the left-hand corner, and the danger seemed over.

    Yet with England spluttering again, Campagnaro ran through Ford, Jamie George and and Mike Brown down the right to bring it back to 17-15.

    A brilliant clearing kick by Carlo Canna denied Daly another, but from the subsequent line-out a driving maul sucked in the Italian defence and Nowell exploited vast open spaces on the right to dive into the corner.

    Nowell then added another, punching through a weary defence, and relief mixed with the roars from the packed stands.

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    Six Nations 2017: Wales 22-9 Ireland
    By Richard Williams

    BBC Wales Sport at the Principality Stadium

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    talk about redemption, North in particular answered criticism with his best performance for Wales in some time.

    Ireland contributed much to a brutal encounter, but could not cross Wales' try-line despite long periods of pressure.

    And a mistake by centre Robbie Henshaw at a driving maul which handed Wales a penalty when they looked certain to concede a try effectively ended Ireland's hopes.

    Rejuvenated North at the double

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    Rory Best: Ireland let Wales off the hook
    Match stats
    Wales
    Ireland
    47% Possession 53%
    48% Territory 52%
    4 (1) Scrums won (lost) 4 (0)
    11 (0) Line-outs won (lost) 10 (3)
    10 Pens conceded 4
    117 (0) Rucks/mauls won (lost) 139 (1)
    27 Kicks from hand 35
    170 (21) Tackles made (missed) 155 (17)
    387 Metres made 398
    8 Offloads 7
    7 Line breaks 7

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    Six Nations 2017: Italy 18-40 France




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    Relive Saturday's Six Nations action

    [​IMG]
    Italy produced encouraging displays in gallant defeats against England and Wales, holding half-time leads in both matches before fading away in the second half.

    Again, the Azzurri ran out of steam.

    They have 'lost' the second halves of their four matches this year by a combined 115-12, compared to a 57-38 first-half deficit.

    Conor O'Shea's side made the perfect start when the talismanic Parisse powered over from close range after three minutes, but they were unable to replicate the defensive resilience shown against the English and Welsh.

    The Italians had 53 missed tackles, culminating in a tackle percentage of just 66%, and it was exploited by the French attack.

    Les Bleus took the lead midway through the first half when Fickou dummied his way through the Italian defence to score and, although Carlos Canna's penalty reduced the gap to 13-11 shortly after.

    Italy crumbled after the break as they headed towards an 11th successive Six Nations defeat, although Angelo Esposito's try in the last play of the game avoided a scoreless second half for the hosts.

    However, it was little consolation for a side consigned to the wooden spoon for the third time in four years.

    Line-ups
    Italy: Padovani; Esposito, Campagnaro, McLean, Venditti; Canna, Gori; Lovotti, Ghiraldini, Cittadini, Fuser, Van Schalkwyk, Steyn, Favaro,, Parisse (capt).

    Replacements: D'Apice (for Ghiraldini 63), Panico (for Lovotti 64), Chistolini (for Cittadini 40), Biagi (for Fuser 50), Mbanda (for Favaro 51), Bronzini (for Gori 51), Benvenuti (for Campagnaro 65), Sperandio.

    France: Dulin; Nakaitaci, Lamerat, Fickou, Vakatawa; Lopez, Serin; Baille, Guirado (capt), Slimani, Le Devedec, Maestri, Sanconnie, Gourdon, Picamoles.

    Replacements: Tolofua (for Guirado 54), Atonio (for Baille 54), Ben Arous (for Slimani 54), Jedrasiak (for Le Devedec 54), Le Roux (for Picamoles 72), Dupont (for Serin 72), Trinh-Duc (for Lamerat 69), Huget (for Vakatawa 63).

    Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)

    Touch judges: Nigel Owens (Wales) and JP Doyle (England)

    TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

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    Six Nations 2017: England 61-21 Scotland
    [​IMG]
    By Tom Fordyce

    Chief sports writer at Twickenham

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    Follow all the reaction to England's Six Nations win

    It was a chastening afternoon for Scotland despite them scoring three converted tries, their hopes of a first Triple Crown since 1990 wrecked by a dismal first-half performance.

    They lost both Stuart Hogg and his replacement Mark Bennett early and were forced to play the majority of the contest with scrum-half Ali Price on the wing, their winless run at Twickenham now stretching past 34 years.

    [​IMG]
    The hosts hit top gear
    There has been much debate about England's form this Six Nations despite their long unbeaten run.

    But in front of a celebrating capacity crowd they cut loose, running in three tries as they scored 30 points in a one-sided first half.

    Four more tries and thirty-one more points followed in the second period as they established an unassailable lead atop the Six Nations table.

    Never before have England scored more than 44 points against the Scots, and only once before won by the 40-point margin.

    Two tries from Huw Jones were scant consolation for Scotland coach Vern Cotter, his team only offering any sort of threat when the match was gone.

    [​IMG]
    Prince Harry presented the Calcutta Cup to winning England captain Dylan Hartley
    England's brilliant opening
    After struggling to start well so often under Eddie Jones, England had come storming out of the blocks to bring Twickenham exploding to life.

    With Fraser Brown in the sin-bin for lifting Elliot Daly above the horizontal in the tackle, England attacked at pace and with the Scottish defence stretched, Joseph ghosted between his opposite centres for the first try.

    After 10 minutes England had 92% possession, Farrell landing two penalties to add to the conversion, and it only got worse for the visitors.

    With star full-back Hogg off with a head injury, his replacement Bennett was carried off with a hamstring injury, forcing Price to switch to the wing.

    And with Joseph dancing past four static defenders on 24 minutes from George Ford's lovely delayed pass, they were 20 points down with just 25 minutes gone.

    Prop Gordon Reid burrowed over from close in after Scotland kicked a penalty to the corner, but another blistering England attack off quick line-out ball let Farrell free Joseph, Watson appearing on his outside shoulder to dash in unopposed.

    Scotland strike back, but too late
    [​IMG]
    Centre Huw Jones' brace was one of the few bright spots for the outclassed Scots at Twickenham
    Joseph ran on to Ben Youngs' short pass to complete his treble and make it 35-7 just after half-time, and while Huw Jones squeezed through Joseph and Jack Nowell for a second Scottish try, Jones then threw on his bench as England went hunting for more.

    Vunipola, on as a replacement after returning from injury, battered over from a driving maul and the stage seemed set for white-shirted carnage.

    But Scotland refused to roll over and as the game became increasingly unstructured, visiting centre Jones side-stepped his way into the left-hand corner.

    However, replacement England scrum-half Care nipped over with nine minutes remaining, and relentless English pressure and possession with time up saw him cap the romp with a celebratory dive over the line.

    Man of the match: Jonathan Joseph
    [​IMG]
    After being rested against Italy, the outside centre was back to his best, giving his hopes of Lions selection a timely boost with his best performance for England in a year.
    England: Brown; Nowell, Joseph, Farrell, Daly; Ford, Youngs; Hughes, Haskell, Itoje, Lawes, Launchbury, Cole, Hartley (capt), Marler.

    Replacements: George, M Vunipola, Sinckler, Wood, B Vunipola, Care, Te'o, Anthony Watson.

    Scotland: Hogg; Seymour, Jones, Dunbar, Visser; Russell, Price; Wilson, Watson, Barclay (capt), J Gray, R Gray, Fagerson, Brown, Reid.

    Replacements: Ford, Dell, Berghan, Swinson, Du Preez, Pyrgos, Weir, Bennett.

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  16. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Winner 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    Six Nations 2017: Scotland 29-0 Italy
    [​IMG]
    By Tom English

    BBC Scotland at Murrayfield

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    France against Wales, and Ireland over England.

    This was a 12th Six Nations defeat in a row for Italy, who finished with the Wooden Spoon for a 12th time in 18 seasons.

    [​IMG]
    Despite three wins, Scotland had to settle for fourth place on points difference
    In the Edinburgh rain, mistakes were inevitable but the opening half was an error and penalty-fest, a grind that Scotland slowly but surely took control of.

    Italy were a creative desert, a line-out horror-show, a goal-kicking nightmare. They lost four of eight line-outs in the first 40 minutes and missed three out of three kicks at goal. Two of those were straightforward, but Canna made a hash of both.

    Scotland were ahead with a booming Hogg penalty, but the hosts had serious problems of their own despite having the lead.

    Referee Pascal Gauzere got on their case early and he kept pinging them all day long. The Scots conceded five penalties in the opening 20 minutes, seven in the first 40 and a stratospheric 12 by the early minutes of the second half.

    Of course, they also had a healthy lead by then. The first came at the end of mountainous pressure, Ali Price eventually put Russell over in the corner. The downside was that they lost Huw Jones to injury in the creation of the score, Scott replacing him.

    Unlike poor Canna, Russell's kick was good and Scotland were ahead 10-0. Canna missed a second sitter and, soon after, Scotland had a second try when Price chipped over the top close to the Italian line for Hogg to win the aerial dual against Giovanbattista Venditti and bat the ball back into Scott's path. The centre had the easiest job in dotting it down.

    [​IMG]
    Tim Visser got to Stuart Hogg's chip ahead first to score his 13th Test try
    Scotland had battled their way into the lead with the knowledge that Italy's second-half performances have been a calamity in this Six Nations. Before this game they conceded 70% of their points in the second half and an average of 20 points in the last 20 minutes of the second half.

    It was Italy who came back strong, though. They camped themselves in the Scottish 22, forced Hogg into making a try-saver on Angelo Esposito, then went again. They won penalty after penalty. John Barclay disappeared to the bin and they won more penalties after that.

    When it looked like they were about to break through, Edoardo Padovani knocked on with the line at his mercy. It was painful stuff for the visitors. They were undone by Scotland's defence, yes, but mostly by their own lack of wit. Italy had a chronic lack of imagination and accuracy.

    Just after the hour, Scotland got their third try when Hogg scampered up the left wing, chipped ahead and Visser got the touchdown. Russell's conversion made it 22-0. For them, it was all about the four-try bonus point now.


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    Six Nations 2017: Emotional Murrayfield farewell for Vern Cotter
    Scotland started to hit their stride and the crucial fourth try came after multiple phases drained the life out of the tiring Italians, Russell's lovely hands finding Hogg who put Seymour over. Once again Russell, kicking beautifully, was successful with the conversion.

    Job done for Scotland. A third win in a championship that has seen them score more points (122) and more tries than they have ever done in the Six Nations. A decent farewell to Cotter, a man who has done so much to take the Scots from despair to hope.

    Match stats
    Scotland
    Italy
    62% Possession 38%
    60% Territory 40%
    6 (1) Scrums won (lost) 2 (0)
    9 (3) Line-outs won (lost) 14 (5)
    9 Pens conceded 7
    103 (2) Rucks/mauls won (lost) 153 (5)
    41 Kicks from hand 39
    91 (4) Tackles made (missed) 125 (15)
    329 Metres made 151
    2 Offloads 1
    3 Line breaks 0
    TEAM LINE-UPS
    Scotland: 15-Hogg; 14-Seymour, 13-Jones, 12-Dunbar, 11-Visser; 10-Russell, 9-Price; 1-Reid, 2-Ford, 3-Fagerson; 4-Gilchrist, 5-J Gray; 6-Barclay (captain), 7-Watson, 8-Wilson.

    Replacements: 16-Brown (for Ford, 66), 17-Dell (for Reid, 56), 17-Berghan (for Fagerson, 66), 18-Du Preez (for Wilson, 49), 19-Swinson (for Gilchrist, 57), 20-Pyrgos (for Price, 54), 22-Weir (for Scott, 73), 23-Scott (for Jones, 26).

    Yellow card: Barclay (49)

    Italy: 15-Padovani; 14-Esposito, 13-Benvenuti, 12-McLean, 11-Venditti; 10-Canna, 9-Gori; 1-Lovotti, 2-Gega, 3-Cittadini, 4-Fuser, 5-Biagi, 6-Mbanda, 7-Steyn, 8-Parisse.

    Replacements: 16-Ghiraldini (for Gega, 41), 17-Panico (for Lovotti, 63), 18-Chistolini (for Cittadini, 41), 19-Van Schalkwyk (for Fuser, 54), 20-Ruzza (for Biagi, 75), 21-Minto (for Mbanda, 54), 22-Violi (for Gori, 54), 23-Sperandio (for Canna, 63).

    MATCH OFFICIALS
    Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)

    Touch judges: Nigel Owens (Wales) & Luke Pearce (England)

    TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

    Swami
     
  17. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Winner 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    Six Nations 2017: France 20-18 Wales
    By Richard Williams

    BBC Wales Sport

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    Ireland denied England a Grand Slam in Dublin to finish second behind the visitors.

    Rob Howley's Wales finished one place above winless Italy after securing two tournament triumphs - against Italy and Ireland - and following defeats by England and Scotland.

    The incredible finale followed what had been a low-key match until the 77th minute, with French indiscipline allowing the immaculate Halfpenny to wipe out an early 10-point deficit with a flawless display of place-kicking.

    But Wales rarely threatened the French line, and struggled throughout at the scrum.

    Warburton's kick to regret?
    They were also hampered by injuries to second rows Alun Wyn Jones and Jake Ball, with Taulupe Faletau pressed into duty in the boiler house and replacement hooker Scott Baldwin playing in the back row.

    For their part, France's forward dominance eventually paid dividends with the immaculate Louis Picamoles and Kevin Gourdon carrying powerfully.

    And Wales flanker Sam Warburton will no doubt regret the rush of blood to the head which saw him kicking the ball long downfield after turning over possession during a France attack.

    The ball went from Wales' 10-metre line and over the French dead-ball line - allowing the home team to set up the bridgehead which eventually led to their winning score.

    Flying start
    France started brilliantly and were ahead within seven minutes when Lopez chipped the ball over the onrushing defence for Lamerat to beat his team-mate Gael Fickou to the ball and touch down.

    Lopez increased the lead to 10 points before referee Barnes intervened to send Virimi Vakatawa to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock on.

    Halfpenny's angled penalty calmed Wales nerves and by half-time the full-back had struck twice more - one from more than 50 metres - and the French were left wondering how their dominance had resulted in just a one-point interval lead.

    [​IMG]
    Dan Biggar closes in on Gael Fikou in Paris
    After the break Halfpenny drilled two long-range kicks to give Wales a five point lead, which he then restored after Lopez kicked one of his own.

    But that was before arguably the most thrilling, nerve-shredding, energy-sapping finish in the tournament's history.

    France: Dulin; Nakaitaci, Lamerat, Fickou, Vakatawa; Lopez, Serin; Baille, Guirado, Slimani; Vahaamahina, Maestri; Sanconnie, Gourdon, Picamoles.

    Replacements: Chat, Atonio, Ben Arous, Le Devedec, Chouly, Dupont, Trinh-Duc, Huget.

    Wales: Halfpenny; North, Davies, S Williams, L Williams; Biggar, Webb; Evans, Owens, Francis, Ball, Wyn Jones, Warburton, Tipuric, Moriarty.

    Replacements: Baldwin, Smith, Lee, Charteris, Faletau, G Davies, S Davies, Roberts.

    MATCH OFFICIALS
    Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)

    Touch judges: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand) and Matthew Carley (England)

    TMO: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)

    Swami
     
  18. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Winner 10 Years on Soap Chat 5 Years on Soap Chat

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    Six Nations 2017: Ireland 13-9 England
    [​IMG]
    By Tom Fordyce

    Chief sports writer at the Aviva Stadium

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    Six Nations 2017: Ireland 13-9 England highlights
    Six Nations: Ireland v England
    Ireland (10) 13
    Try:
    Henderson Con: Sexton Pens: Sexton 2
    England (3) 9
    Pens:
    Farrell 3
    Ireland wrecked England's Grand Slam dream and ended their world record run of victories with a dramatic win at a rejoicing Aviva Stadium.

    The home side overwhelmed the Six Nations champions with their intensity and physicality, just as they had in Slam deciders here in 2011 and 2001.

    In the process they also halted England's winning run at a record 18 Tests, leaving them level with New Zealand, who were also beaten by Ireland to bring to an end their record run back in November.


    A first-half try from Iain Henderson and eight points from the boot of a battered Johnny Sexton established a lead that England never looked like closing, despite Owen Farrell's three penalties.

    It was a horrible, chastening evening for Eddie Jones' men, the first defeat of his reign coming with arguably the worst performance of his 18 matches in charge, although they at least have the consolation of retaining their Six Nations title.

    Ireland had come into the match having lost two of their four matches in the championship, but a green-shirted gale blew the men in white away, their much-vaunted finishers unable to get them out of jail one more time.

    The victory ensured Ireland finished second in the table, ahead of France and Scotland on points difference.

    [​IMG]
    Retaining the trophy was some consolation for a team that had arrived intent on the Grand Slam
    History repeats in rainy Dublin
    Once again England will leave the Irish capital with their hopes of a Grand Slam in tatters, slow out of the blocks, sloppy with ball in hand and nowhere near their record-breaking best.

    They were second best at the breakdown and unable to get a grip on a contest they had begun as clear favourites to win, Ireland with two-thirds of both territory and possession.

    They appeared flustered from the opening moments and never found their precision.

    In a city still celebrating St Patrick's Day it was another joyous piece of party-pooping, England's disappointment compounded by having to receive their Six Nations trophy when the players felt only defeat.

    Irish intensity overwhelms England
    [​IMG]
    Iain Henderson scored the only try of the game, drilling over from a close range line-out
    Having already lost first-choice scrum-half Conor Murray to injury, Ireland then had to reorganise minutes before kick-off when Jamie Heaslip hurt himself in the warm-up, CJ Stander moving to number eight and Peter O'Mahony coming into the starting line-up and producing an outstanding performance.

    In an opening every bit as frenetic as expected, both sides had early chances, Farrell's pass hitting Mike Brown on the shoulder with Elliot Daly free outside him, Jared Payne delaying his own pass to Keith Earls down the other end.

    After Sexton and Farrell exchanged penalties, Ireland then struck again, twice kicking penalties to the corner, Henderson reaching out after a driving maul to slam the ball over the try line.

    A 10-3 lead reflected Ireland's grip on the match, with almost 75% territory and possession in the first quarter.

    England were rattled, Courtney Lawes knocking on, Ford kicking out on the full from outside his 22, the men in white being forced to make three times as many tackles as their opponents.

    The only silver lining for Jones was that the deficit was not greater, the bad news that England had never come from behind at half-time in Dublin to win a Six Nations match.

    Ireland hold finishers at bay
    [​IMG]
    Ireland fly-half Sexton was on the receiving end of some physical England defence
    The English mistakes kept coming. Anthony Watson dropped a pass in space, a line-out that had been near-flawless through the first four rounds began to fail.

    Then England made a mess of an Irish line-out on the 10-metre line, won the turnover and Farrell thumped over the long-range penalty to narrow the gap to four points.

    It brought the contest to a fresh head, a battle of voices in the stands matched by a new intensity on the pitch.

    Payne escaped through two tackles to thunder deep into England's 22 to halt their momentum, and after a late hit on Sexton the battered fly-half stepped up to drill over his second penalty for 13-6.

    Jones had his finishers on, Jamie George for captain Dylan Hartley, Ben Te'o for Ford, Wood for Haskell, and a relentless driving maul brought a penalty that Farrell knocked over for 13-9 with 13 minutes left.

    With rain hammering down from the evening sky, England began to make dents, only to lose a critical attacking line-out to O'Mahony when Farrell had opted to kick a long-range penalty to touch.

    Never again would they get close to the Irish line, the capacity crowd celebrating wildly as Brown's final knock-on snuffed out England's final hopes.

    Man of the match - Peter O'Mahony
    [​IMG]
    The latest of replacements, the Munster flanker responded magnificently, repeatedly making a mess of the English line-out and breakdown.
    What did the coaches make of it?
    Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt:

    "We just wanted to make sure all the bits and pieces we needed to get right to get a skinny margin over a super team, we ticked those boxes.

    "The bit of pride we can take is the three teams that sit above us in the world we have beaten in the last six months."

    England head coach Eddie Jones:

    "Everything was wrong with the preparation because we played like that. I take full responsibility, I didn't prepare the team well and we will respond in the future.

    "It was a tight old game. One or two things go your way and the game flips, they didn't go our way today, we didn't work hard enough to get those opportunities and that's what happens."

    [​IMG]
    And what about the pundits?
    Ex-England scrum-half Matt Dawson:

    "I'm applauding Ireland, that was one of the finest Ireland displays I've seen in a long time, the opposition are world class and Ireland have stepped up yet again, a fantastic display.

    "I know how these England players feel, they will be low, dejected, but they should be extremely proud of how they have transformed English rugby."

    Former Ireland winger Denis Hickie:

    "This will definitely rank as one of Ireland's greatest wins, going in truly against the odds against what is a tremendous England team."

    Team details
    Ireland: Payne, Earls, Ringrose, Henshaw, Zebo, Sexton, Marmion, J McGrath, Best, Furlong, D Ryan, Henderson, O'Mahony, O'Brien, Stander.

    Replacements: Conway for Earls (41), L McGrath for Marmion (69), C Healy for J McGrath (60), Scannell for Best (73), J Ryan for Furlong (76), Toner for D Ryan (65), Leavy for O'Brien (66).

    Not Used: Jackson.

    England: Brown; Watson, Joseph, Farrell, Daly; Ford, Youngs; Marler, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Lawes, Itoje, Haskell, B Vunipola.

    Replacements: Nowell for Joseph (68), Te'o for Ford (63), Care for Youngs (63), M Vunipola for Marler (41), George for Hartley (55), Sinckler for Cole (78), Wood for Haskell (60), Hughes for B Vunipola (63).

    Match stats
    Ireland
    England
    61% Possession 39%
    64% Territory 36%
    319 Metres made 214
    130 Ball carries 85
    2 Line breaks 1
    15 Defenders beaten 9
    113 (1) Rucks/mauls won (lost) 65 (2)
    7 (0) Scrums won (lost) 8 (0)
    13 (1) Line-outs won (lost) 9 (2)
    10 Pens conceded 9
    108 (9) Tackles made (missed) 153 (15)
    4 Turnovers won 5

    Swami
     

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