By James Malleson
- Five burning questions for Round 3 of the RBS Six Nations tournament
- List of this weekend’s fixtures
RBS 6 NATIONS – Wales vs Scotland could be the outstanding match for this weekend. We focus on that and other key elements in our five burning questions for Round 3.
Wales or Scotland: a game neither can afford to lose?
Both teams will be looking to bounce back quickly after close defeats to England and France respectively. Especially after only the one win to either teams’ name.
Leigh Halfpenny was the main protagonist last time versus England, where he managed to score three penalties and a conversion, and they may be relying on him once again despite Wales’ overall loss. The No. 8 for Wales (Ross Moriarty) was also outstanding during the last match and may well play a significant part.
However, Scotland will fight until the end in order to avoid a consecutive defeat after suffering a close encounter with France. A win for them could boost their chances of ending as Six Nations champions. Furthermore, Scotland should feel enthused due to the addition of six Scotsmen who have been previously ruled out through injury.
Either team would also like to grab the bonus point on offer but this could just be a luxury.
To put it bluntly, it is a contest neither team can afford to lose. And whilst we don’t yet know who will come out victorious, we certainly know it will be a fiery encounter.
England to continue their winning streak?
A try late on from Elliot Daly (76th minute) secured England another win in the Six Nations competition. England’s attacking approach managed well with Eddie Jones’ guidance, we can expect more of the same, even if it is a precarious balance at times.
England may use the test against Italy as a way of trialling a new system perhaps largely due to the fact Italy have stuttered recently and were thrashed against Ireland last time they took to the pitch.
England have got momentum and it looks likely they will notch another W next to their name coupled with a bonus point.
Camille Lopez to convert Les Bleus to another victory?
France or Les Bleus – Whatever you want to call them, they certainly know how to put on a dramatic show. And last time out, they did just that. Camille Lopez in the spotlight this time, was able to convert two last gasp penalties to send them into Hollywood- well almost. The fly-half was influential throughout, and was on the score sheet in both halves.
The question remains whether he will be on the winning side as France travel to the Aviva Stadium, but what we do know is that he is bound to be an important figure, come Saturday.
Sexton to return from injury to boost Irish hopes?
Johnny Sexton, the ‘charm’ in lucky, and with 63 caps to his name has almost always been the focus of Ireland’s good play. However, he has recently been unavailable for selection through a calf injury which appeared twenty minutes into Leinster’s final European Champions Cup pool game away to Castres over four weeks ago.
He will likely replace debutant Paddy Jackson (who plays for Ulster), who impressed with his lively play and forward runs.
It is a big boost for Ireland, and if he is involved, will no doubt be on the score-sheet and will continue his ‘eye of the needle’ passes, carving through the sometimes shaky French defense.
Another name that could return to the fray is full-back Rob Kearney who has been absent due to a bicep injury. Not short of appearances too with a total of 74 and counting, his experience could be vital if the Ireland team are to out-muscle the French.
Will Taulupe Faletau be given a start?
The fairly tall Welsh figure at 6ft 2in and 26 years old, will look to come off the bench again at the least and may even warrant a starting berth. Taulupe Faletau came off the bench last time Wales played and could be a contender to replace the equally impressive Moriarty in the number eight position.
Off the bench, after previously suffering a knee injury, he certainly did not disappoint, having a positive impact in Moriarty’s absence from the pitch.
However, it may still be likely that Moriarty keeps his place due to his scintillating form of recent, and it would be a bold decision from Warren Gatland (Head Coach), to displace him.
One thing is for sure – Wales do not lack depth in the No. 8 position.
This Weekend’s Fixtures
|Scotland v Wales||Saturday 25 February 14:25|
|Ireland v France||Saturday 25 February 16:50|
|England v Italy||Sunday 26 February 15:00|
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