By James Malleson
- Five burning questions for Round 4 of the RBS Six Nations tournament
- List of this weekend’s fixtures
RBS 6 NATIONS – England look to improve and win at Twickenham, as Ireland look to boost their own chances. Those and more in our five burning questions for Round 4.
A Better Performance Needed for England?
England will surely need to play much better than how they performed during the first half of their previous encounter against Italy, who out-smarted them. If they manage it, it will be their eighteenth consecutive win.
Italy caused frenzy with their assured tactics of tackling their opponents before it became a ruck and therefore avoiding the offside-trap – which Eddie Jones’ team fell straight in to. England will need to be much more wary as Scotland are no rollovers, and they comfortably beat Wales with a stunning second half display last time out.
However, England have an array of weapons at their disposal to hurt Scotland, carrying the likes of the impressive Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, George Ford and Elliot Daly to name just a few of the variety at Jones’ disposal.
Whatever happens England could be on their way to a consecutive grand slam, with a victory at Twickenham come Saturday evening.
Ireland Need Win to Boost Their Hopes
Ireland are sitting in a healthy second place in the table, three points behind England at the top.
Joe Schmidt has decided to keep the same starting line out after their previous win against Les Bleus. And a big boost is that full-back Rob Kearney has recovered from a groin injury during that match, who was a key player in providing the success last time out.
A host of other Irish names will have to be at their best (including the likes of Jamie Heaslip and Conor Murray) if they are to overcome the Welsh defence. There are still many questions to ponder and much can change on the day as we wait to see which sort of Welsh team turns up.
Nevermind that though, it is up to Ireland to salvage a win and with it perhaps a chance of lifting the trophy in under two weeks time.
Can Scotland Spoil the Party?
1990 was the last time Scotland won the Triple Crown but could achieve it with a quality performance ahead of this weekend. Scotland played superbly against Wales in their previous match, especially given their recent injury woes.
The impressive Finn Russell will need to continue his kicking form of late for this Calcutta Cup clash, and John Barclay will have to marshall his team with purpose and authority if they are to cause an upset at Twickenham.
There is only one change to the starting team as Vern Cotter has decided to bring in flanker Hamish Watson in replace of club-mate John Hardie.
Scotland currently sit third in the table but are breathing down the necks of the Irish with one point the difference. Scotland must beat England if they are to stand any chance of winning the Championship. If they do then we could be in for a tasty final weekend.
Is There Fire Still Left in the Welsh Dragon?
Wales sit in fourth place in the table and struggled the last time they played, losing to Scotland. With only one win and a total of five points, they must win and hope a whole host of permutations go in their favour.
Justin Tipuric is set to win his 50th cap as the flanker looks to help lift the team’s spirit as well as key players such as their talisman Leigh Halfpenny and fly-half George North who need to play at their highest level, to come away with victory as the Welsh team remain unchanged from last time they played.
France vs Italy: A Pointless Encounter?
The match up here will not be of much significance in terms of the table and points on offer as both are effectively playing to avoid the wooden spoon. After both having lost their previous matches, these teams sit at the bottom with France boasting a measly five points to Italy’s zero.
France have not been at their best since Guy Noves took over. Their recent history suggests a more proud list containing seventeen Championships and nine Grand Slams to name. However it looks unlikely they will be adding to these accolades.
As for Italy, they played astutely against England last time and produced some good tactical play however it was not enough and they are now left fighting to avoid picking up the wooden spoon.
This Weekend’s Fixtures
|Wales v Ireland||Friday 10 March 20:00|
|Italy v France||Saturday 11 March 13:30|
|England v Scotland||Saturday 11 March 16:00|
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