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RBS Six Nations wrap

It was a dead rubber last weekend of the 2017 RBS Six Nations with England already winning he Championship last week with their win over Scotland,but an exciting one with England trying to beat the record they shared with the All Blacks on test wins.

Here is a rundown on all the actions from this weekend Six Nations…

Scotland finish on a high

Scotland finished their Six Nations campaign on a high when they claimed a deserved 29-0 bonus-point win over Italy at Murrayfield on Saturday.

The home side were full value for their win as they dominated for large periods – especially during the first half – although Italy will be disappointed with their effort and poor goalkicking from Carlo Canna, who failed to convert three penalties in the first half, meant they failed to score any points.

The result was a perfect send-off for Scotland’s head coach Vern Cotter under whose guidance the Scots have made tremendous strides, and they finish the tournament with an unbeaten home record having won three out of five matches, which is their best performance with the New Zealander at the helm since he took over the coaching reins in 2014.

Scotland started brightly made an early statement of intent when they overpowered Italy at the opening scrum.

The Azzurri‘s forwards were blown up for illegal scrummaging and Stuart Hogg opened the scoring when he slotted the resulting penalty from 45 metres out in the fifth minute.

The next 15 minutes was fairly even as both sides tried to gain the ascendancy although Italy missed a golden opportunity to open their account in the 21st minute when Canna was off target with a fairly straightforward shot at goal, after John Barclay was penalised for an indiscretion at a ruck.

Five minutes later, Huw Jones made a line break on the edge of his 22 but stumbled when trying to beat the final defender on Italy’s five-metre line. That was the Stormers midfielder’s final act of this Test as he injured his ankle in that run and was then replaced by Matt Scott.

Scotland were eventually rewarded just before the half-hour mark when Finn Russell went over for the opening try after gathering a perfectly-timed pass from Ali Price close to Italy’s try-line.

Russell dusted himself off and added the extras before Canna missed his second easy penalty attempt shortly afterwards after Jonny Gray was penalised for obstructing Sergio Parisse.

Scotland did not waste any time to extend their lead and just before half-time Scott got his name onto the scoresheet when he dived on a loose ball behind Italy’s try-line, after Price delivered a teasing box kick which was knocked backwards by Hogg.

Russell failed with the conversion attempt and on the stroke of half-time Italy were awarded a penalty, but Canna’s poor goalkicking continued as he failed with his third effort from the kicking tee.

Italy came out like men possessed after the interval and spent the first 15 minutes of the second half camped inside the home side’s half.

The Azzurri restricted play mostly to their forwards but missed a golden opportunity to open their account when they did strike out wide with their backs, Hogg and Scott doing well to hold Angelo Esposito up in the tackle when he went over Scotland’s try-line in the 49th minute.

Shorlty afterwards, Scotland were reduced to 14 men when their captain, Barclay, was sent to the sin bin for deliberately collapsing a maul close to his try-line.

But despite being a man down, Scotland launched a gallant defensive effort and kept the visitors at bay for the next 10 minutes.

This was best illustrated in the 51st minute when Edoardo Padovani knocked on a pass from Esposito with the try-line begging which summed up the lack of finishing power Italy had, having been largely in control since the break.

Ten minutes later, Scotland made them pay when Tim Visser beat Tommaso Benvenuti in a foot race to touch down after Hogg delivered a chip kick in the build-up.

Russell converted which sealed the win for the hosts, and when Tommy Seymour crossed for Scotland’s fourth try, after running onto a pass from Hogg deep inside Italy’s 22, they also had the bonus point in the bag to give Cotter the perfect send-off.

The scorers:

For Scotland:
Tries:
Russell, Scott, Visser, Seymour
Cons: Russell 3
Pen: Hogg
Yellow Card: Barclay

France win in 100th minute

France scored a converted try in the 100th minute of the game to defeat Wales 20-18 in their Six Nations clash in Paris on Saturday.

A 20-minute spell on the Welsh line was the conclusion to this fixture as Camille Chat’s try, converted by Camille Lopez, saw France win.

Les Bleus’ other try-scorer was Rémi Lamerat, while for Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny kicked six out of six penalty attempts, as they finish fifth.

France began with a real purpose in Paris and despite fly-half Lopez missing a long-range penalty, they led 7-0 in the seventh minute after said player’s clever chip in the Welsh 22 saw centre Lamerat gather and cross. Lopez’s conversion was an easy one from in front.

Louis Picamoles was a catalyst for France up front while their pack also showed their power to hand Lopez a shot for 10-0 which he took.

Then came a controversial moment in the match on 19 minutes as Virimi Vakatawa was adjudged to have deliberately knocked down Dan Biggar’s pass to George North, who had the line within reach. Wayne Barnes was confident it was a card offence as Vakatawa went to the bin.

Halfpenny made an immediate dent in the score from wide out before nailing another penalty, this time from over 50 metres out, for 10-6.

Wales seemed to be growing in confidence and continued to flourish with ball in hand, possibly feeling aggrieved to go into the break with just one more Halfpenny penalty to their name.

As it was, 10-9 was a fair reflection on the fixture which looked set to go down to the wire.

France wanted to make a statement after the break, snubbing two penalties in favour of a quick tap and then scrum, which backfired when Barnes penalised them at the set-piece.

Barnes was becoming increasingly unpopular at the Stade de France with the local supporters.

And the experienced referee Barnes was in the firing line of boos again soon after when Wales were handed another scrum penalty, Halfpenny did the rest from halfway.

Wales were now leading for the first time in the game and with 20 minutes remaining France decided to send on the majority of their bench.

The visitors meanwhile had lost both Alun Wyn Jones and Jake Ball to injury, which meant replacement hooker Scott Baldwin had to play out of position, with more disruption set to come until the end of the match.

Halfpenny was on-target again from a similar position on 65 minutes to make it 15-10 to Wales but Lopez responded soon after for 15-13.

Crucially for Wales they reclaimed that five-point buffer on 72 minutes following Uini Atonio’s high tackle, with Halfpenny slotting from in front.

They now had the clock and lead on their side with the possibility of back-to-back wins over Ireland and France looming large.

Then followed over 20 remarkable minutes of France play being camped on the Welsh line, which saw tighthead prop Samson Lee yellow carded, as France banged on the door.

Eventually they bust it open with replacement Chat crossing in the 100th minute, after a series of scrum penalties and attacks giong close, before Lopez slotted the match-winning conversion, ending a bizarre game at the Stade de France.

The scorers:

For France:
Tries: Lamerat, Chat
Cons: Lopez 2
Pens: Lopez 2
Yellow Card: Vakatawa

For Wales:
Pens: Halfpenny 6
Yellow Card: Lee

Ireland end England Slam hopes

England were denied successive Six Nations Grand Slams on Saturday as Ireland claimed a hard-fought 13-9 victory in Dublin.

Only one try was scored in the game and it went the way of Irish lock Iain Henderson as the hosts held on for a morale-boosting success.

The result sees England’s run of wins end on 18 as Ireland bounced back from last week’s loss to Wales with a hugely spirited showing.

All of England’s points came via the boot of Owen Farrell and in truth they were massively under-par against an Ireland side full of fight.

Ireland were always going to be much-improved from last Friday’s defeat in Cardiff, especially in front of their fans, and they did not disappoint early on. Johnny Sexton struck on 10 minutes after side entry from England at the ruck and they were well worth their early advantage.

Farrell did level matters eight minutes later due to Ireland not rolling away and the game was fascinatingly poised even at an early stage.

Ireland, who had lost the influential Jamie Heaslip to injury before kick-off, had to reshuffle their squad as CJ Stander moved to number eight with Peter O’Mahony coming off the bench to start on the blindside flank. The tweaks did not fluster them though as they were on top.

Further reason to smile came in the 24th minute when lock Henderson reached out for a try which Sexton converted to make it a 10-3 cushion. And that was the scoreline at the break after a first 40 that Ireland dominated, enjoying 74 percent possession and 77 percent territory.

Eddie Jones was clearly upset with his side’s showing and duly made a change up front as Mako Vunipola replaced Joe Marler at prop.

A stern talking to seemed to improve their fortunes as Farrell reduced the score to 10-6 on 52 minutes and they appeared to be turning the screw in the tight exchanges. Three minutes later Jamie George was the next to emerge, replacing captain Dylan Hartley for the run-in.

However, Jones’ next changes were somewhat a knee-jerk reaction to Sexton sending over a crucial penalty from a tough angle after Farrell had tackled him high. That made it 13-6 so Ireland had pushed England out to two scores from claiming that Grand Slam with 17 minutes left.

Farrell cut the margin four minutes later off the tee after strong mauling work from his forwards saw Ireland enter from the side, and thus we had the grandstand finish back on in Dublin at 13-9. England though, importantly for Ireland, had yet to breach the whitewash in the match.

That pyschological fact seemed to get the Irish over the finish line with their noses in front as they held on for victory that sees them finish in second place, while England, upset to miss the Slam, must settle with the Six Nations title.

The scorers:

For Ireland:
Try: Henderson
Con: Sexton
Pens: Sexton 2

For England:
Pens: Farrell 3

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