I’ll be honest I completely forgot about the blog, I tend to do that when there is a week’s break. So sitting in a pub in Rome, in preparation for a Scotland victory tomorrow (only just, but wont be surprised if Italy win), here is a quick prediction blog.
Wales v France.
If you had asked me before Twickenham, I’d have said France would win, however, I thought that Wales were unlucky against England, and France, while very good against Scotland, were not really put under any real pressure at Murrayfield. I also think that France will be looking at the last game, and may not give them due attention (though this may be mitigated with Shaun Edwards):
Wales by three.
Italy v Scotland
Can Scotland discover their accuracy and dynamism of the England game and the first half against Wales? That is the key to this game. Also will Finn Russell bring his A game. If they do, I would expect a win by at least two scores. However, I think that it will be a mix. An improvement, coming up against an Italian team that will have a sense of injustice with decisions in Dublin last time out. I thought that both tackles were similar and should have been punished equally, but that is another blog, as is the Duhan van der Merwe’s red for Worcester (especially the subsequent ban).
Scotland will just win, possibly similar to Duncan Weirs heroics in 2014. Scotland by three.
England v Ireland
If England can sort out the top two inches, I think they will push Ireland all the way, and with home advantage, will stop the Irish Triple Crown bid. Against Scotland, a couple of potentially crucial decisions contributed to the defeat. Eddie Jones taking Marcus Smith off when they were in the ascendancy, and the error by Luke Cowan-Dickie, who just made the wrong decision, in a position he should never have found himself in (and I have so much sympathy with, I probably done the same). Against Wales, England should have taken the points after Liam Williams yellow card. Losing a full back, doesn’t really help the attacking team, in a short field, as the kick through is normally a long game option. Similar to the red zone in american football, it is easier to defend. It didn’t effect the result in the end, but made it an uncomfortable final period for England. As for Ireland, the selection of Jonny Sexton, I think will benefit England, as a battle of the first 5/8, should be edged by Marcus Smith, with both backlines of similar quality.
England by Six.