Italy 20 Ireland 34
Ireland moved closer to the Grand Slam with a win in Rome. However, a determined display from Italy pushed Andy Farrell’s side all the way.
Despite Ireland racking up four tries in the first half through James Ryan, Hugo Keenan, Bundee Aki and Mack Hansen, they were unable to get a comfortable gap. Tries from Stephen Varney and Pierre Bruno kept Italy in touch.
Ross Byrne, in for Johnny Sexton, sent a vital 65th minute penalty between the posts to give the Irish a seven point advantage. Byrne contributed nine points over the course of the match.
After withstanding huge pressure from the Italians Hansen went over again to ensure another bonus point victory for Ireland.
Italy gave their best display of the tournament and made Ireland look uncomfortable. Something which has not happened to the World’s number one ranked side often in recent times. However, while Ireland clearly did not hit their recent high standards, they found a way to win, which is the mark of a successful team. They are two wins from the Grand Slam and travel to Murrayfield for a crucial clash with Scotland on March 12.
Wales 10 England 20
England showed evidence of further progress under Steve Borthwick with a win over Wales in Cardiff. It was an untidy game where both sides traded kicks, with England fullback Freddie Steward imperious in the air.
England were the better side in the first half, but Wales stayed in touch. The sides were separated by a well worked try from Anthony Watson. England arguably failed to captitalise on their advantage and Wales had a spell of pressure leading up to the interval. They were only denied a try through excellent English defence.
Wales wing Louis Rees-Zammit went over in the second period before England responded with tries from Kyle Sinckler and Ollie Lawrence.
Wales have suffered their worst start in the tournament since 2007 and now to travel to face Italy and France. Their preparation was not helped by a dispute between their players and the Welsh Rugby Union where strike action was a possibility.
As for England, after suffering a defeat to Scotland in the first round of matches they have now won two in a row. However they close their campaign against France and Ireland, both of whom will provide a stern test. The outcome of those matches will be a true indication of how things are going under Borthwick.
France 32 Scotland 21
Scotland, arguably the surprise package of this year’s Six Nations, lost a titanic clash in Paris as France got back to winning ways. The French kept their title hopes alive, while ending Scotland’s Grand Slam quest.
The game became a 14-a-side contest as both sides suffered red cards within the opening 10 minutes. This chaotic start to proceedings saw the Scots 19-0 down at one point as the France bounced back to form. Romain Ntamack and Ethan Dumortier had scored either side of Scotland’s Grant Gilchrist’s dismissal, before France’s Mohamed Haouas also saw red. Thomas Ramos scored a try and two penalties to extend the lead.
Scotland rallied and closed to within four points, heading into the final minutes through two tries from Huw Jones plus a try scored and converted by Finn Russell.
But the French demonstrated their ability to grind out results as a missed Scotland lineout saw the home side break. Gael Fickou powered over the line to secure a bonus-point victory.
Ireland – who visit Murrayfield in two weeks – are the only side able to win the Grand Slam. France are now level with Scotland and England on 10 points after two wins and a defeat.
Six Nations Latest Odds
Ireland: 13/100 SBK
Scotland: 21/2 SBK
France: 23/1 SBK
England: 33/1 William Hill/BetVictor/888sport
Odds correct as of 27.02.23 00:26. Odds subject to change.
Grand Slam Winner
No Winner: 11/8 bet365
Ireland: 4/7 bet365
Odds correct as of 26.02.23, 21.30. Odds subject to change.
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