6 NATIONS SATURDAY

Well, it’s the final day of the 2012 6 Nations, and there’s quite a line-up of matches to look forward to. Firstly, Scotlandtravel to Romefor the ‘Wooden Spoon’ decider against Italy. Then Wales host France with a possible first Grand Slam for the Welsh. Finally, Irelandplay Englandat Twickenham, with Irelandgoing for a 2nd place finish in this year’s tournament.
 
Scotland and Italy have fought over the ‘Wooden Spoon’ for 11 of the last 12 6 Nations tournaments, with Italy losing 9 times, and the last 4 in a row. Scotland are also hoping to overcome a terrible record of 11 defeats in the last 14 6 Nations tests.
 
Scotland performed quite well in their defeats to France, England and Wales. What’s really been letting them down is their discipline (they’ve given away a lot of silly penalties, though they were unlucky in some instances) . They will start the match as favourites, though they lost the last time in Rome. Italy made it tough for some of the other teams, especially Wales, so they can’t be counted out.
 
Scotland should win, though it will be close. Watch out for Scotland’s Richie Gray (4) who’s been one of the stand out players of the tournament (he certainly gave us a scare).
 
Wales have been very good this season, despite a pretty lacklustre showing against Italy. They have some strong running backs and a very good pack. They’ve been the most consistent team of the tournament, obviously, been the only team to win all their matches.
 
France, on the other hand, have been poor. They have been inconsistent in their play and quite conservative as well. They’ve gone through a number of changes since last season, and still seem quite a ways off finding a finished product (coach Saint-Andre already has a lot of critics of his selections).
 
France lost a great match to England, a match which saw a real role reversal. Usually when the 2 sides play it’s France that does all the running and England responds with kicks. This time, England were scoring the tries, while France responded with penalties. They didn’t play like the usual French team at all.
 
France do have a good side, at centre and back row, especially. Ironically, these are 2 of Wales’ strongest positions as well. At centre, Rougerie is not playing close to his potential, he can be a real threat. While Fofana is having an amazing debut season. The French back row (especially captain Duseatoir) is one of the best in the world.
 
This match is a rematch of the World Cup semi-final, which saw Welsh captain Warburton go off to a very controversial call. That incident seemed to completely unsettle the Welsh team and they were unable to overcome the French. A lot has happened to both sides since that match, with Wales coming out the stronger.
 
France were shocked against England which should galvanise them into a good performance. Wales though are going for their first Grand Slam since 2008 and will want to finish off a good season. Another close match will finish with Wales coming out ahead.
 
Finally, the big crunch game: Ireland v England at Twickenham (5). Both sides have looked impressive this season, though England’s performance agains France last week was a stand-out (Ireland only managed a draw with France, of course). When the 2 teams faced last year, England were very confident, going for the Grand Slam, only to get hockeyed.
 
The English should be a lot better though this year, they won’t be quite so overawed/ill-prepared. Ireland have the superior side overall. Kearney, Bowe, Best and Ferris, are all having great tournaments. Donncha Ryan is coming through as well. England have some good players as well, especially in the pack, and outhalf Farrell seems to be the find of the season, though he wasn’t great against France.
 
I’ll go withIreland, who have more riding on this game. Still, should be quite an occasion!

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