John Inverdale introduces analysis and reaction from the opening weekend of Six Nations games, which saw Scotland host Ireland, England take on France and Italy meet Wales.
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And we're under way in the 2017 RBS Six Nations. The defence of the
grand slam title begins at Twickenham. The Welsh team are
packed with players who have won the Championship. Hello. February Sunday
tea-time welcome Rugby special. After the kind of game we have had
over the weekend that coaches really earn their money. Today in Rome,
sodden run, Conor O'Shea, the new man in charge of Italy was out to
prove that he could succeed where so many had failed before. Yesterday at
Twickenham, the unbeatable Eddie Jones and the unfathomable Guy Noves
pitted their wits against each other. At Murrayfield, the departing
Vern Cotter was out to show that he has made a difference to Scotland,
node and in the future. To ponder it all, we have an Englishman, a
Scotsman and the Welshman. Martyn Williams, Mike Blair and Alex
Corbisiero. One of the guarantees over the Six Nations recently has
been that every match that takes place in Rome has been beneath
beautiful blue skies. Not today. It rained a thousand Trevi Fountain is
which mean that it was a greasy page that confronted England and Wales --
Italy and Wales at the Olympic Stadium.
It has been described as a game that Wales cannot afford to lose. Twice
they have come unstuck in Rome. Conor O'Shea has pumped his side
full of positivity and bully. The Italians are missing key men. They
are still able to call on Warriors like Cittadini and Parisse. Keep an
eye on two men, the loose-head prop, Andrea Lovotti, and Maxime Mbanda.
For all the instinctive skills of Canna, he needs to make sure that he
can organise and control. McLean will be he's eyes and ears. There is
quality at fullback. The Welsh are missing Luke Charteris. The new
skipper, Alun Wyn Jones, will be at the start of everything. Nicky Smith
wins the nod at loose-head. There is familiarity in the scrum. The
Scarlets paling in the centre. Williams has to play on the wing.
George North has got to rediscover his try scoring prowess. The
Italians can call on former skipper Dean Albini. For Wales, lots of
excitement surrounding Sam Davies, offering a genuine spark late on.
The referee is JP Doyle of Ireland. The bollards picked up by Parisse.
Italy are beginning to run riot. Here goes Sergio Parisse. So close
to the line. Wales stopping him in the nick of time. Italy bearing down
on the Welsh try-line for the first time in the match. If that ball
comes out, there are three or four micro men on the right-hand side
clear. Not a Welsh man inside. That all came from a very bad scrum. That
is a brilliant tackle by George North. It thwarts the Italians for
the first time in this game. Parisse is looking to strike. It is a lovely
inside ball. Steyn is there. Once again, within a couple of metres.
The noise building inside Olympic Stadium. Italy reassembling.
Parisse, having set up the maul, looking to work it around the
fringes. Over the go. Have they got it on? JP Doyle says yes. Wales are
stunned. They absorbed lots of the Welsh pressure. It was a great
inside ball. Moriarty held him up. I thought he was over. The important
thing is patience. We have set up the maul. The scrum-half is in
there, Luke McLean is in there. They stay on their feet again. Edoardo
Gori has been credited with a try. 7-0, Italy in front, not 30 minutes
gone. One man is out. An Italian player is injured as well.
Wales, earnest and pricing and winning the penalty. Italy failing
to roll away from the tackled player. This is within range for
Halfpenny, certainly. That was rather innocuous. It did not look
like much. Dan Biggar is a tough man. It takes quite a bit to keep
him on the ground. It might only be three points, but in the context of
the match, and in the context of the Welsh challenge today, these would
be very precious points for the injured Leigh Halfpenny.
That was a vital score for Rob Howley's men. Italy have the only
try of the game through Gori. Their leading at the break, 7-3.
Tipuric. Not really a day for flashy play from Tipuric. He left that too
late. Two knock-ons. Somebody earlier. Moriarty. I think the title
is good but the way that he put him down was dangerous. Let's see how he
put him down. He landed on his back. It is a perfectly reasonable tackle.
That is a great tackle. That is an interesting call from JP Doyle. He
reckons it went past the horizontal and is a penalty. To the letter of
the law, he is right, but I think all the kids in school were brought
up to make that tackle. It is a very clean, true straight from Halfpenny.
With just about 30 minutes left, the Welsh at the front for the first
time in the match. Moriarty feeds Webb. Scott Williams.
The Welsh have definitely got more purpose to their activities in the
second period, despite Warburton being driven back. Rhys Webb it
seems using the way. You kick this again. Go for goal again. We have
not looked like scoring a try, so kick it. The penalties are telling
Italy at the moment. What is the point of that? I know he is trying
to close the link then. 11 penalties conceded. You cannot do that. It is
a very well on routine. The result is a familiar one as well. A little
bit of breathing space for the Welsh. Abraham Steyn told to remove
himself. He needs players either side of him now. He gets the flood
away. Brilliant. Sam Davies, linking with Tipuric. Wales playing like
Wales. Jonathan Davies within a couple of metres.
Building all the time. Webb has made it, has the? I think he has got
there. You might of taking two megabytes at the cherry. I think he
has scored. JP Doyle. That is a lot better. I think it is going to be a
try. He is allowed to reach out. That bollards on the ground. I think
it is a try. I have got the decision. It is just short of the
line. So, no try. Rhys Webb denied. I think that is a try myself. I
think that is on the line. The Italians down on one knee on this
loose-head side. He is down again. That is it, he is. He has gone, he
has warned him. He is on his way. Onto your knees and on the outside.
The Italians are going to 14. Andrea Lovotti heads to the touchline for a
ten minute spell. He has dropped, and the hooker has dropped. Only
Gori patrolling the short side for the Italians. Webb, liking the look
of this. He goes and brings in Liam Williams. A good tackle. Just short
of the line. That is a great tackle. He has got to get outside Venditti,
under the post. That is where the movement is, two pasties. Sam Davies
to Scott Williams. The goal wide. Jonathan Davies. In the end, it was
easy. It has taken time to come, but finally the Welsh have a try. Watch
number 11, Venditti. You know he is going to do it, a winger defending
in the centre. I thought he had blown it by going inside, the two
man overlap. For me, that is the game. He knows he is coming, as a
stand-off, you can sense it. The ball should maybe have gone but he
does the right call again and it is an easy finish for Jonathan Davies.
Scott Williams. Webb is there. You have got to tackle. Good line speed.
Really good pressure from the Italians. Webb legs to go wide.
Jonathan Davies again. Here is Liam Williams. Try number two. Quick
handling, pressure from the forwards initially. Making the most of the
numerical advantage. Wales taking a commanding lead. They go midfield,
watch. Brilliant play by Scott Williams. The two centres do
exceptionally well. He holds, he checks. He commits the tackle.
Off-load and the try. They cannot find the space. Leon. It
was kicked for word by Venditti. It is a decent, tidy job by Sam Davies.
He has just waited long enough. George North sets off, whether he is
in pain or not. He has the beating of Luke McLean. North head for the
post, and Wales have your third. What damage has it done? This was
clever from Davies. He just held the ball for long enough. The defence
are all over the place. Pain etched all over the face of George North
before he got the touchdown. That was a lovely little kick through.
Gareth Davies is after it. This is like England in the World Cup again.
Gathered eventually by Michele Campagnaro from Italy. Maybe that is
the bone is gone as far as the Welsh are concerned. Or maybe not. --
maybe that is the bone is gone. Liam Williams is going to claim it. Not
terribly convincingly. He is claiming it all the same. On the
reaction of the players, that is not a try. We are checking the knock-on.
No, he is short. He is not going to get it from there, is the? No. There
will be no bonus point for Wales. People will look at that and say it
is the same old Italy, competitive for 50 minutes and the other team
pull away. The referee was looking at when team discipline wise. We
found it difficult. We are at the outset of something and we make sure
that we do not compound the mistakes. We have to refocus
quickly. That is the challenge. It could have gone two ways at
half-time. He was level-headed. We had lots of opportunity in the 22.
We took our foot off the gas and press too much, fumbled. Credit to
Italy. They stifled our possession. We had one bad scrum and it ended up
under the posts. We went in with the deficit by that half we were
level-headed. We were composed, Howard Rose before
the game, it was 15-40 and then we scored those points. A shame about
the bonus point at the end, with the application in our second half, we
can be more confident and have more believe going into the England game.
It winds a win -- a win is a win? Yes committee can be content, after
those post-match interviews, it hit the nail on the head. A potential
banana skin, when you saw the weather coming down at the start of
the game, that ring comedy thought, could it be similar conditions to
South Africa in the autumn? And think that this could be a banana
skin, at half-time it was 7-3 down, the experience and the number of
caps, the players had done it for Wales, and they got a victory.
Clinical in the second half, quietly content with a victory. It wasn't a
great spectacle, but what did you make of it overall? It would always
take time to break down this talent, it's an emotional game, in the Six
Nations, at home in Italy, you need to bide your time and break the
defence down. And in contrast to what Conor O'Shea said, you beat
Italy in the last half-hour of the game. Very much so, and at times,
their patience with the ball, that rewarded them with the penalties,
and gradually, there was more possession which broke them down, I
liked when they moved the ball a bit more, going ahead into the next
games when they play the ball out the backache a few times, ask more
questions and with defence, they seemed more dangerous -- play out
the back. Italy should have scored a second try really, leading 14-3 at
half-time would have been a different psychological battle but
the Welsh defence was rock-solid. In contrast to what the Italians did
not have? When you say defence, people think tackles, discipline,
not giving those penalties away. But this was a magnificent game for some
money today. Back on his feet, winning the turnover. On half time
but conversely, the Italians, every time Wales got the ball, it was easy
points, silly penalties, they are under no pressure, in the second and
third phases, you have to roll away. You need players like Leigh
Halfpenny in the team, don't give them any chances, even when the
captain is on board. OK, it is 50-50, but there is no need to give
the referee that decision. But Wales, they love doing anything 12-7
in front because of the Italian discipline, we are all expecting a
new Italy and O'Connor reshape, but it is the same team we've seen for
the last ten years -- and O'Connor O'Shea. How does a coach deal with
that? If you speak to Brian Moore, he would say, I've had a masterplan,
and put the players on the field, then they would go and mess it up,
Conor O'Shea must have looked at elements of today and gone, what am
I doing? He has not been in charge for a huge amount of time, he needs
to bet that culture within the team. I've been at teams where you have
serial offenders, and I will fine you 100 quid if you do this... I'm
sure there have been a fair few! It will take time, as Conor O'Shea said
in his interview, he is aware of issues with discipline, he will be
keeping on top of that. Alex alluded to the fact that Wales got better as
the match went on, they played more expansive elements into the game,
Dan Biggar will be assessed on Monday in terms of his injury and
George North, more of that in a moment, but when Jamie Roberts isn't
selected as a starting centre and Dan Biggar I is not playing, do
Wales had to play differently? Yes, Sam Davies is a very different
player. Particularly in Wales, people have been asking for this. A
lot of criticism of Wales, they've not been involved in eight or nine
years under Warren Gatland. He's Welsh forward to going around the
corner, Sam Davies looks forward and seize on the blindside that there
was a prop, the end man. -- he can see. Effectively, you have two
centres on a loosehead prop, and a 2-3 man overlap. They are not
programmed, they are willing to go outside of the box and play what is
in front of them, that has been missing from the Welsh game for so
long. Scott Williams did brilliantly in holding up the defence. We saw
with the lead up to Davies's tried, he can make that pass away. He can
lead the Welsh attack. Jonathan Davies was saying that this tackle
that we will show, he said, this is how children are taught to tackle at
school. It is wonderful, what do you think? I think that five or six
years ago, this was an amazing tackle. When I played with Matheus
, that was his trick. The amount of emphasis that they put on safety,
these are not acceptable, lifting players into the air like that, it
impacts the game. It is difficult to lie out of that first thing. He
makes great contact, that momentum going forward. A final point, if Dan
Biggar are is fit, who starts at ten for Wales next weekend? He won't be,
if he has hurt his ribs but based on today, you would throw Sam Davies
soon. Next weekend, it is Wales against England at Cardiff. As we
reflect on yesterday's matches... England played France, and Eddie
Jones described their performance as ugly, but ultimately? Beautiful.
COMMENTATOR: Lopez, directly behind the scrum, spinning directly behind.
Lopez, getting it away from George Ford. A quick blast of the whistle.
It's not exactly a tipping tackle. Jonny May shakes his head, here he
comes... He takes him beyond the horizontal. It is going to be a
yellow card, Brian? You lifted him horizontal, so... There is an
element of regrets in Angus Gardner's voice, but it is ten
minutes in the sin-bin for Jonny May. It stripped then... France, two
penalties by Cammy Lopez, leading 6-3. The magnitude of that
challenge, they are well aware of it against France. Louis Picamoles gets
the pass away to Gourdon. Vakatawa. England's defence is solid.
Picamoles, away... There is the strength of Louis Picamoles. The
high tackle by England again. Dan Cole, about helping midfield. The
advantage is played, it is another penalty for France. Tom Wood would
have to be careful... Playing on after the whistle. Well, with the
current interpretation yes, it was not dangerous, but this is real
discipline that they cannot afford against a team like France. Lopez,
to extend the French lead... He has. 9-3, France leading at Twickenham.
It's a penalty advantage against France. It is a free play for
England, taken up by Courtney Lawes, but Uini Atonio is in his way. Back
to the original penalty. On the ground here, the man does not get
out of the way of the ball. It has to be played. England's six - nine
France. Owen Farrell's second penalty. Crouch, bind, set! Going
for a big drive... Penalty, pushing forward. Pushing before the ball is
in, guys. You can see, never really steady. Up stepped Elliot Daly, with
a long shot at goal. 60 yards, he has got the range here. It looks
good. It is good! We are all square. England 9-9 France.
Maro Itoje. Having a go. Leave it... George Ford, dummying the cake.
Brilliantly done by Owen Farrell -- kick. It will go to review, Elliot
Daly thinks that he has scored. If he has, it was good awareness.
Bringing the ball back against the grain, getting the opportunity on
the blindside. Yes, he is now. Just! A great tackle. Dylan Hartley finds
Tom Wood. There is a chance now... Brown with a good off-load. Over to
Owen Farrell. George Ford, outside of here. Nathan Hughes... Penalty!
It's a yellow card here... Playing the ball from the side, England with
Nathan Hughes, but he cannot make it. It's a penalty advantage, still
being played. A new advantage. Tom Wood... Going to pot a bit, but
England have two penalty advantages. Pick either. What England's need to
take from this is that when they keep the ball in hand, they are more
of a threat. England in the lead for the first time. Four penalties,
three by Owen Farrell. Leading 12-9. Picamoles, with a pass out of the
tackle. Gael Fickou... The prop, Xavier Chiocci. Lopez. Fickou tries
to go against the run of play. Another high tackle. It comes under
the high tackle penalty. It could be better for France, a deliberate
knock-on by Courtney Lawes? Scott Spedding has not seen much of this
ball in the second half. A couple of advantages have been played France's
way. It's a try... A try! The first of the game. With the balance...
They deserve to be in front. Jack Nowell, four metres to go. Back to
five. James Haskell, another offside advantage against Gael Fickou.
Nathan Hughes. Care... Ben Te'o! England are rewarded for staying
patient. That was a reward for one of the passages of play that they
have had. This has been a disjointed performance by England, but the
Grand Slam champions of last year are up and running! They have beaten
France by 19-16. It was ugly today, wasn't it? That is what Test match
rugby is about. Getting your nose over the line, sometimes you are
going to win ugly. We did today. It's a great testament to the 23
that our finishes came on in the second half, and gave us what we
needed. At half-time, Eddie said it was the worst that we have played
and I thought if I got the opportunity to get on, I wanted to
get the ball and carry. I thought that if I could offer anything, it
was getting some go forward, that's why I try to get the ball as much as
I could. They are a good side. A fantastic set piece. A big physical
Ford back, Picamoles doing what he wanted on the field today, it is a
blur at the moment but there is so much more to work on and get better
at. Three games in a row that we could have won against Australia and
New Zealand, we had England, we had the game in our hands and let it
slip at the end. We seriously got it today, but fair play to England, we
knew what we were up against and they continue that winning streak
and deserve it. Any time beating France is a great win, they are one
of the greatest rugby countries in the world. They have improved. Look
at their size, they are a massive team. Getting over the top of them
in the end is a great achievement and we are on the road to Wales next
week, we look forward to Cardiff and going and causing some problems
there! Eddie Jones said that at no point
during the game did you think that England would not win. Did you share
that opinion? I was worried at times. There were some areas of the
game when it was in the balance. England managed to steer the ship
and take control of the game. In terms of the way that England
played, they were so lacklustre. Making basic mistakes early but it
came right in the end. Talk us through some of the areas where
England went wrong. I felt there were inaccuracies in the game. It
was uncharacteristic. They were not holding onto the ball for phases.
They were not turning it over. Their set piece was not accurate. They did
not turn up for large parts of the game. Credit to France, they turned
up. You have got to give them credit. The one person who turned up
more than anybody was Picamoles. He was extraordinary. The influence he
had on the match was immense. He was outstanding. He has been
around a long time, Picamoles. Being at Northampton has helped his
fitness. He was like Billy Vunipola yesterday. This is what he was doing
last year for England. That off-load does not look like much but it gives
you 510 metres extra. They could not bring him down, his energy, his
talk. It was men against boys at stages. One of the all-time great
performances from a Frenchman. Why is the more fit at Northampton and
he was? They will put a massive emphasis on workrate, involvement.
They will rely on him as a talisman for the game. The strength and
conditioning impact is huge. What he seems to be so good at doing is he
knows where the defenders are. He is able to bomb one guy, transfer the
ball, hand of the next. He has the vision to be able to see that. Let's
focus on England. Let's concentrate on what went wrong in the first
half. Mike, you have picked out a few things. It seems to me that once
he comes into the Finnish son, that is where the mistakes come. It is a
great set piece play, Tom Wood coming in off his feet. It was a
silly mistake. It was a recurring theme. Tom Wood misses the clean
straight off. They were in the red areas. They were struggling for
gain-line. They were looking to get some of the big carriers in the game
on the ball. They knocked the ball on. The light France off the hook.
England need to hold onto the ball and work in the French team. England
had to take the opportunities. They were not clinical. The
disappointment was the line-out. A bit laughable. They are an
international side and they need that platform to launch their
attack. We will talk about Linux in the Scotland game. How does that
complete lack of communication have been? From the outside in, the loss
of George Kruis was a big loss. The primary line-out collar. People
seemed like they were on different pages, not sure of the call. Dylan
Hartley was under pressure to put the ball in and eventually he put it
in. In. In the last quarter, replacements came on, Danny Care,
James Haskell. There was an increase in Temple. Did that make the
difference? Yes, England getting a little bit of run football. Danny
Care was in there. When the ball was available, he moved it away. James
Haskell cumin and made gain-line. He created quick ball. The ball is
available to play and Danny Care gets it away. The quicker you can
get, the easier it is to score. Play at pace and the tries will come. One
of the great debates that will run through the summer towards the
Lions, the first time we have mentioned them and we have been
going for 45 minutes, Ford and Farrell at outside half. Who plays
and who gets left out? In the papers today, lots of columns, should
Farrell be starting? What do you think? It is hard to compare the
last 20 to the rest of the game. When Owen Farrell had his run at the
game, England were getting gain-line. George Ford is one of the
best number tens in the world. His decision-making, the way he pulls
the strings, it is phenomenal. It is hard to compare performances. Both
were competitive. It will be interesting to see which way Eddie
goes as the tournament develops. Can you see a change in the England
midfield axis for next weekend? I do not think so. Wales always struggle
when sides play rugby against them. George Ford and Owen Farrell cause
them all sorts of problems last year. I think Alex hit the nail on
the head, it is easier when you have go forward ball. I expect pretty
much the same. Lots of talk about the performance of Dylan Hartley. He
has not played much. Some conjecture going forward, Owen Farrell maybe
the England captain. What did you think about the performance of
Hartley yesterday? He has not played in a long time. No matter how much
fitness work are simulation of game you do, when you start playing, it
will be different. He was put under pressure, made to make decisions. It
was a tough 50 minutes for him. He has to tread on eggshells more than
any other player at the moment. Yes, he's England captain. He has a
history, I am not going to see dirty play, but he has been banned in the
past. We can see this example. He is coming in to make a counter ruck.
Baptista is around there. He is targeting the head and shoulders. I
have seen issues where there are lengthy bans. With his history, he
has got to watch out. That is born out of frustration. He was a little
bit off the pace. He was thinking, I can counter ruck. Talking about
keeping tackles down, that is just as dangerous as a high tackle.
You're in a vulnerable position, with your body at that angle. He has
got the kid squeaky clean. It has been tough for him with his history.
It follows him. He is under more of a microscope than other players. He
has to be careful, especially with the directives regarding contact to
the head. He has to be on top of that. He is a team-mate of yours
from days gone by. A leader of men? He is a leader, fierce competitor.
With all the questions of who should captain, look at his record. He has
not lost or let England down. He leads from the front and brings that
edge. For me, he is their captain. He is the man.
Plenty more sport to come here on the BBC.
There is a Manchester leaning Match Of The Day tonight. That will
feature Leicester and Swansea City. There are highlights
of Great Britain against Canada in the Davis Cup from 11:15pm
on BBC Two. And tomorrow night, there's
a Six Nations review On the website, you can
watch the highlights The revolution will be televised.
You can watch in HD. You can talk like a weekend warrior, from the
safety of your city. -- of your settee. The revolution will be
televised. If we all just talk from the safety of her sofa... Mike will
enjoy the next ten minutes or so. We have saved the best till last in
terms of entertainment. Scotland against Ireland at Murrayfield.
Defence and defiance seeing Scotland home in the end.
Scotland up to within seven metres of the line. It is onto Ross Ford.
They are moving forward with a vengeance now. Richie Gray. The
noise grows inside Murrayfield. Hamish Watson is still going. Within
two metres of the line. Scotland bearing down on the try-line. That
was carried forward by Strauss. It slows for a moment. Laidlaw things.
Picked up by the forwards and driven. The Irish defence is sorely
tested. Richie Gray is there again. Just short. Arched on by the
Murrayfield faithful. Laidlaw is dating. Russell floats it out. It is
a score. Scotland have scored the team try at Murrayfield, to bring
the crowd to live. I good little pass by Finn Russell. It bounces
well for Stuart Hogg and a great driver Scotland. Joe Schmidt and
Simon Easterby and therefore Ireland. That has gone right for
Scotland. A quarter of the match is gone. Still just the one score from
Scotland. Here they come again. Maitland is outside. Two for Stuart
Hogg. Two chances, two scores, two tries from Scotland. They are
leading by 12 points. Murrayfield is alive. It is a nice flat pass,
drawing the man. They knew he was going to take the final man. Stuart
Hogg was there. What the players years. Battering away. McGrath
again. Still, the Scottish defence are working, and working so hard.
Heaslip through. Bodies getting weary. A penalty advantage to
Ireland. Conor Murray digs deep. Closing in on 20 paces. It goes
wide. Into the corner. Ireland strike back. He thinks he has
scored. The crowd in the corner think he has scored. We will just
check. Just check, try, yes or no? Yes, that is a try. It is a great
try. You can award the try, yes. The TMO says that he can award the
drive. The referee blows his whistle. -- the try.
Russell, a little chip. Zebo is able to watch it and he slides out with
it. Great play from the chip. Ireland's turned to defend a five
metre Drive. It is a nervous, difficult place to defend. Both
sides have been uncertain in the line-out. It is a sneaky one, and
straight through for the try. Alex Dunbar, straight through the middle.
Catching Ireland unaware. He just go straight over the head of Greig
Laidlaw. It is a great little play. It is pretty much the moves to the
22 and three tries. That is a wonderful kick by Laidlaw. From his
right foot. What an unbelievable 45 minutes. Ireland looking for the
ideal start with O'Brien. CJ Stander. Henshaw spins and shapes of
Huw Jones. It is picked up by the captain, Best. Rory Best within two
metres. Murray is looking for it. Stander is there. Murray quickly for
the line. He cannot quite make it. The ball is held up. It is a try,
Henderson dives and scores. Good position, you're not going to stop
anyone with that weight. There is a massive weight. There is no way
you're going to get below Iain Henderson to stop that. The Scottish
tackles are flying in. It is a transfer Kearney. Maitland is the
saviour. I thought he was going to score but it had to be the tackle
from Maitland. He got his man into touch. It was a great tackle from
Duncan Weir. Is the foot in? Yes, there. Only just.
13 phases, Ireland creeping on again. O'Brien...
Up to within ten metres. Jackson is through! Jackson stretches and
scores! Ireland have the try. And the conversion will give them the
lead. An excellent line-out, a good finish. He did well to finish it.
Tense times for both sides... John Barclay takes it in. It is a penalty
for Scotland. Eight minutes to go. A reasonably straightforward kick from
Laidlaw. Murrayfield falls silent for Greig Laidlaw, three from three
so far. It goes through, seven minutes. A little bit more remaining
at Murrayfield. Scotland are leading once again. For Scotland, it is all
about safe, sensible and clinical staff. -- stuff. It's a long time to
try and close this game. A carried by Swinson making good ground... The
ball is still there for Scotland, and it is a penalty. Ireland's
chances slipping away. Just over one minute gone, it might be done for
the visitors... It's good from Greig Laidlaw! It is great from Scotland,
because they have won, beating Ireland. That is the first time
since 2061 your opening match in the Six Nations, what does that mean to
you and your team? To get that win, everybody is singing the national
anthem... That is what it is about. I knew that we had not won for ten
years, we are both minded, we have done it today. We were close to
getting away but when you don't get away from a team playing at home,
and have so much to play for, you know, you are always at risk of them
coming back and getting something in the end. We dominated in the first
half, I thought that they dominated in the second half, it shows that
there was composure on the end, and we managed to get what we wanted.
It's been a while since we have had a win in the first match of the Six
Nations, it is positive going forward.
Here's confirmation then of how the RBS Six Nations
This table features bonus points, how important it is for them to get
another one. And how important will Ireland's
losing bonus point B? I think that we should say before everything
else, beautiful weather and an amazing atmosphere, what a way to
kick-off the championship? So often in the past, you seem those games
which are all about safety, we don't want to lose it, but it was
fantastic. Those teams went to win the game, the final two games
haven't lived up to it, but it is a sign of things to come. In the last
17 years, by and large, the team that concedes the fewest number of
tries wins the championship, defence is the key. There were interesting
changes and approaches to defence that the two sides had yesterday?
Yes, Ireland in particular, you look at their victory against the All
Blacks in Chicago, they had a hard defence which came up through the
outside, not allowing them back through the ball. But, Scotland, on
their side, they came back hard in the middle. Putting a lot of
pressure on the Irish game around the corner. Looking back at Ireland,
they have good numbers, it's all a bit tight, maybe. Look at the
problems they cause in the second phase, they are passive in the first
but look at this coming around... Scotland can create a quicker ball,
so they have the edge. Ireland change things in the second half,
coming up hard on the line, stopping organ and Maitland, but I was
surprised at how passive they were. The Scottish back row yesterday,
early on, they stopped the Irish with those big carries, like
O'Brien, they stopped them... There is an example of the Irish passive
defence. The run made by Tommy Seymour, holding Paddy Jackson a
bit. It puts a lot of pressure on Keith Earls and Kearney out the
back, but they could not fix it. In the second half, Keith Earls came up
hard, and did not allow the next pass to go in. Before the game began
yesterday, we talked about Conor Murray and said if there is anyone
who is a certainty to be in the starting line-up in the 23 man squad
for the first match, it's him. What did you make of his performance
yesterday? Scotland clearly targeted him? He is a fantastic player and
has been for two or three seasons with Ireland, he manages the whole
game and without Johnny Sexton, he takes the rain out even more. But
Scotland targeted him, the same with Glasgow when they played Munster in
the European cup if you weeks back but he is a key player and they are
always to be targeted -- a a few weeks back. Scotland did well to put
him off his game. They did not have a front for with Conor Murray.
Russell put pressure on him. The energy in the first half from the
squad was outstanding. At the weekend, it is fair to say, it is
not a comedy moment but it won moment for Scotland, a lot of people
watched it yesterday and thought, what is going on here? This is the
Scottish third strike, there is a winger and a centre, 11 and 12, at
two and three in the line-up for Scotland. Let's hold it here for a
moment... What is going on? From a Scottish perspective, and what is
not going on here from an Irish perspective? Scotland and loading
the line with backs as well, ten mammals, 11 mammals, getting as many
as possible to push them over the line -- man Moores. They are looking
to mark the forward part is where the ball will go. They are marking
the line-out thinking that they are not there, Rory Best's job at the
front is to stop the past to Laidlaw. But they did not expect it
over the top to Dunbar. They get the space and catch of God. The Scottish
management team and coaching team -- a catch off guard. They practised so
many of them in training. It's a full credit to Scotland. Having the
courage to get it five metres out. If it goes wrong it looks
embarrassing but it is great play. As scrum-half, should Conor Murray
not be screaming, guys, look! Because Rory Best is covering it,
and the backs, you'd think, how can the ball get there, just out of
reach. Furlong will lift on Henderson, it is looking so simple,
but people would say, that is a schoolboy error from Ireland, but
thumbs up to the Scottish attack. It is likely that that space would be
the first checkout, the first option where if it is on, they will go
quick, not give Ireland's time to see that formation, if not, they
will have a move with something clever their sleeves, they took the
first option and it paid off. I'm sure that O'Connell, someone who has
put so much time in studying, with four different plans to prevent
it... He would have been seething over dinner! How did that happen?
Scotland will never score the try again! A final point, without over
egging the cake, but people who watch and play at any level, at what
stage, when the line-out was just about to take place, at what point
did both protagonists say, let's do it? I contact, that is the original
call to going and if they don't mark you, Alex Dunbar, give Ross cannot,
and you say, you practised them time and again in training, and it is
never called. But yesterday, fair play for them in having the courage
to do it. John Barclay, a key moment in the game? Yes, Scotland were
smarter, you think Ireland, and you think, very smart. But Ireland have
all of the momentum, they just got ahead. Two scores in front, and it
is not a great call from them. John Barclay, intelligent and
experienced, he reads it down to ET. Once the line-out is over committee
stripped the ball which kills momentum for Ireland. I have to
mention John Barclay and Hamish Watson, they played a half each and
they were both stunning yesterday. How good a player is Stuart Hogg? He
went all right! He played the season for the whole of the Six Nations
last year, and he picked up where he left off. He adds so much to the
Scottish game, and without him, Scotland miss a lot. He easily could
have coming to gather up the ball but he beats the defender. He beats
them without the ball. You can see his pace. Keith owls is one of the
quickest players in Europe and he could not get near. -- Keith Earls.
Ronan O'Gara said some lovely things about Scotland recently! He talked
about the spiral kick going out of fashion but Stuart Hogg showed him
how to do it there. Undoubtably, player of the weekend,
fair to say. He is in a blind alley and gets himself out of it. A
fantastic game. Let's go to next weekend, the three fixtures coming
your way... Let's do them in reverse order.
France play Scotland, buoyed by yesterday, and France are much
improved, we ought to say, at Twickenham, as an impartial
observer, how do you see that game going? I think that Scotland's need
to play with Tempe and play quake. I think that they need their game and
-- Scotland need to play quick. Get their big pack in. With the
commands, get those guys in and launch the attack with their
off-loads. If they can cope with physicality, Scotland and the French
pack, they could cause them problems. France looked good in
Paris yesterday, but they lost in Twickenham but will be confident
next week. The make-up of Scotland, they have momentum behind them now
with a win, you have guys like Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg who, when
they are confident, they better and better. I'm aware of the French
team, looking at them on paper, they've got a couple of industrious
players who have something extra about them. They work hard for their
team, and where they have got that edge, and with their flag, it makes
them dangerous. Ireland will be stung from yesterday, and you expect
that Italy could be stung as the result? Yes, you would expect with
the quality team that they are. Mike, I know what you are going to
say... You have the verdict. Cardiff on Saturday evening, what do you
think? It is going to be a big event. These Wales and England games
always have a lot of emotion. I am swayed towards England at the
moment. I think the last 20 minutes, half an hour, from Wales today would
have offered them Think Different on defence, -- made them Think
Different lay on defence. Alex is nodding! It's a good first weekend,
and next weekend, we see you in Cardiff.
No Falcons, a lot of Dragons, no Lady Gaga, but there will be a lot
of patriots! See you in Cardiff... Goodbye!
DANCE MUSIC What a start for Wales!
A follow-through, the referee checks it...
John Inverdale introduces analysis and reaction from the opening weekend of Six Nations games, which saw Scotland host Ireland, England take on France and Italy meet Wales.