The second weekend of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations saw Wales beaten in Dublin by an impressive Irish side, whilst an Ellis Genge try earned England a hard-fought victory over Scotland to regain the Calcutta Cup, amid atrocious conditions. France followed up their impressive victory over England on the opening weekend by scoring five tries against a spirited Italy – earning a bonus-point in the process – to put them top of the table on points difference.
Here’s a roundup of what happened in the second round of fixtures:
Dublin defeat for holders Wales
Ireland continued their Dublin dominance against Wales with a 24-14 bonus-point victory in Saturday’s early kick-off. The defeat means that the defending champions have not won in the tournament on Irish soil for eight years.
Ireland appeared a far more threatening force as they enjoyed 66% of the first-half territory. First-half tries from Jordan Larmour and Tadhg Furlong sandwiched Tomos Williams’s reply for Wales, to give Ireland a 12-7 interval lead.
Josh van der Flier extended Ireland’s deficit after the break with a try off a driving maul. The hosts then withstood a spell of Welsh pressure before Andrew Conway crossed late on to clinch a bonus-point win. Justin Tipuric’s injury-time score provided late consolation for Wales, who suffered their first Six Nations defeat since Ireland beat them two years ago.
This incredible Ireland performance – unrecognisable from their laborious performance against Scotland a week ago – puts Andy Farrell’s team on course for a Grand Slam, whilst Welsh hopes of a clean sweep are over.
Wales coach Wayne Pivac criticised Welsh wastefulness after the game: We came up against a side that were desperate to win the match, as we were. We were inaccurate in a lot of our play. When we did get into the areas of the field we wanted to, we weren’t accurate and let the Irish off the hook. When they got down the other end, they made us pay.
Wales will seek to get their campaign back on track when they host France in Cardiff on Saturday evening, whilst Ireland are in action a day later when they face England at Twickenham.
Ellis Genge try earns England stormy Six Nations win in error-ridden contest
Ellis Genge scored the only try of the match as England regained the Calcutta Cup and relaunched their Six Nations title quest with a narrow victory over Scotland.
This wretched contest was a far cry from the 38-38 thriller of last season, but will provide much relief to England coach Eddie Jones as the Red Roses earned their first victory of the campaign, to move level on points with second-placed Wales.
Captain Owen Farrell struck a penalty in either half, but Adam Hastings replied twice for Scotland, including a 78th-minute kick, which gives Scotland their second losing bonus point in as many weekends.
Swirling wind and driving rain meant that points became a precious commodity, with mistakes galore. Hogg’s howler for the second week running paid dividends, as he fumbled a bouncing ball which culminated in a five-metre scrum for England. Genge scored the resulting, decisive try, barrelling home to give England victory.
Eddie Jones’s post-match thoughts:
Apart from one 15-minute period we dominated the game and dominated field position. We had a few poor kicks but we dominated possession and we finished it off, which we didn’t do last week.
Jones was unhappy however with the home crowd’s booing of Farrell as he lined up his goalkicks, remarking ‘I thought you were supposed to show kickers respect’.
This win will give England confidence and belief against table topplers Ireland in their next encounter. For the Scots, they will be expected to get their Six Nations campaign back on track with a win against Italy in their next contest.
Five tries from France see off spirited Italy in bonus-point victory
France moved top of the Six Nations table with a patchy 35-22 win over a battling Italy.
The hosts looked set to run away with the game after tries from Teddy Thomas and Charles Ollivon, before Matteo Minozzi scored to allow Italy a foothold in the game. A Tommaso Allan penalty cut France’s lead to three, but Gregory Alldritt went over just before the break.
Romain Ntamack’s try sealed the bonus point, before Italy’s Federico Zani scored and France’s Baptiste Serin finished off an individual effort.
Mattia Bellini sped down the right flank and scored a late try for the visitors, but France held on. The victory sees France move to top of the table on points difference, whilst for Italy it marked their 24th consecutive Six Nations defeat.
Italy will be hoping to end their abysmal run when they host Scotland next Saturday. Les Bleus remain on course for a grand slam, but will need to improve ahead of their trip to Wales in the later kick-off. France lock Paul Willemse lamented his team’s indiscipline, demanding that they sharpen up when without the ball:
Our performance, a lot of errors especially discipline wise, so we’ve got to fix that as quickly as possible. Our previous game it wasn’t a big thing, so we definitely want to fix that as quickly as possible, it’s not normal for us to have so many penalties. But that will definitely be a focus in the weeks to come to make sure it doesn’t happen again.