Ireland-21 vs Scotland-18
The return of Ronan O’Gara to the starting fifteen proved beneficial for the Irish as the posted another win over Scotland this past weekend. Head Coach Declan Kidney decided to bench Jonathon Sexton in favor of Irelands all time point scorer O’Gara. Ireland started off with a quick try from Jamie Heaslip followed by another by Eoin Reddan all within the 30 minute mark. O’Gara pinned the Scots back in inside their five meter line and with Tommy Bowe chasing fullback Paterson out of bounds the Irish received a lineout. A quick crash ball off the lineout freed up some space for Heaslip to go untouched to start the game off. Three penalties committed by the Irish allowed the Scottish to draw closer with Chris Paterson connecting on all of them to bring the first half to a close with Ireland leading by five. The opening of the second half was one the Scots would love to forget, with Prop Allan Jacobsen receiving a yellow card for collapsing the scrum in the opening five minutes. Ireland took advantage of the sin bin with Ronan O’Gara breaking free with a huge stiff arm on a Scottish player. Paterson notched another penalty with Dan Parks subbing on to add on another drop kick to bring the score within three. But it was not enough as the Irish clinched the win. Ireland now has a week off to prepare for their upcoming match against the Welsh on March 12 as they keep their 6 nation title hopes alive.
England-17 vs France-9
Considered the game of the tournament, the winner would be crowned the favorite to win the Grand Slam. With only one tried scored in the game, it was a battle between the boots of English flyhalf Toby Flood and French scrummy Dimitri Yachvili. Each notched three penalties in the first half, with the scored tied going into half at 9 apiece. The French were still sleeping when they came out for the second half, which allowed fullback Ben Foden to score in the 41st minute. Sub Jonny Wilkinson tallied on one more penalty and the English defense never let up. Ashton broke free late and power dived into the try zone once again, only to have it called back for a forward pass. With two games left to play, England only needs to beat both Wales and Ireland in order to secure a Grand Slam championship, their first since 2003.
Wales 24 vs Italy-16
A downed Italy teamed needed a quick start to this game and they got one when Gonzalo Canales scored in the fourth minute in response to Stephen Jones converted penalty for Wales just two minutes before. In the eighth minute Stoddard touched down another try for Wales with Sam Warburton finishing off yet another brilliant run by Welsh all time scorer Shane Williams. Jones only converted one conversion but tallied one two more penalties late in the half. Italian wing Mirco Bergamasco converted two penalties with the half closing 21-11 Wales. Italy’s kicking inaccuracy proved costly as they missed four kicks in the second half. James Hook tallied on one more drop kick as Wales closed out a tough second half against a physical Italian team. Wales has a hope to still win the tournament but will need a big win over the Irish in two weeks.