I’ve always believed it hard to predict against the French, however I’m forecasting a brutal final 6 Nations game in Paris on March 19th when they entertain England.
In a game poorly refereed by Jaco Peyper, France sent out a brutal warning to future opponents.
This may be a French side in transition but they have already agreed on one thing, they will hit hard in the tackle, early or late!!
Ireland couldn’t cope with it as France worked Jaco out very early!
Kicking is a skill and kicking to score a theme of work. Biggar chipped over, Roberts jumped and tapped back, Davies ran to score. After 20 phases in and around the Welsh 22 Russell used a drop punt with reverse rotation for the winger Seymour to score. Both kicks acceptable.
Unfortunately, the first 24 minutes of the second half resembled a game of Aussie rules, then Roberts crashed over for a try. Players then decided to pass the ball instead of kicking it and we had an interesting final quarter with 2 rugby tries!!
Good to see North running freely and Taylors line onto the ball a beaut for his try. Some of the catching of the high ball was also first class and very Aussie rules.
Cotter has improved Scotland out of sight but now he needs a win!!
So where are England? They are yet to start their best team.
Itoje at 6 looks a done deal if he can strip a bit leaner. There is considerable depth and the final team looked better than the starting one. Last week Mako showed sleight of hand, this week it was Billy!
Look again at how Billy moves back and out when the tackle contest is developing to find space to create the little circle ball, Farrell and Ford finish off.
Support players are also anticipating the ball carrier going to ground. If he can stay on his feet and they can keep him going forward, it will attract more defenders and create space elsewhere.
Ford needs to stop making spiral passes to players three meters away above chest height! As an International 10, I think he is a 7s player!!
Farrell has improved as a 10 for Saracens this season so I’d be looking to move him back to 10 and find a 12? Joseph needs that space out wide.
England’s lineout failed to function and when that happens Hartley’s discipline is challenged elsewhere. The French will have made note.
Playing depth is England’s trump card. Jones knows this and his shuffling of the pack, (cards not forwards) will produce an efficient side, but March 20th may not be about efficiency and skill?
A final word on Italy who are bringing through young players. Their switch plays back down the short side tested England and they had continuity and go forward throughout the first half. A lack of depth and moments of madness proved their undoing. You can never gift sides’ points but for 40 minutes they played really well.
As for the drop goal, the recipe still needs some refinement.
WEEK 1 ROUNDUP: Check out my analysis of last week’s Six Nations performances here.